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Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT)

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The discipline of Comparative Literature is changing. Its Eurocentric heritage has been challenged by various formulations of ‘world literature’, while new media and new forms of artistic production are bringing urgency to comparative thinking across literature, film, the visual arts and music. The resulting questions of method are both intellectually compelling and central to the future of the humanities. To confront them, our research programme brings together experts from the disciplines of English, Medieval and Modern Languages, Oriental Studies, and Classics, and draws in collaborators from Music, Visual Art, Film, Philosophy and History.

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The discipline of Comparative Literature is changing. Its Eurocentric heritage has been challenged by various formulations of ‘world literature’, while new media and new forms of artistic production are bringing urgency to comparative thinking across literature, film, the visual arts and music. The resulting questions of method are both intellectually compelling and central to the future of the humanities. To confront them, our research programme brings together experts from the disciplines of English, Medieval and Modern Languages, Oriental Studies, and Classics, and draws in collaborators from Music, Visual Art, Film, Philosophy and History.

Cover image of Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT)

Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT)

Latest release on Feb 24, 2017

Read more

The discipline of Comparative Literature is changing. Its Eurocentric heritage has been challenged by various formulations of ‘world literature’, while new media and new forms of artistic production are bringing urgency to comparative thinking across literature, film, the visual arts and music. The resulting questions of method are both intellectually compelling and central to the future of the humanities. To confront them, our research programme brings together experts from the disciplines of English, Medieval and Modern Languages, Oriental Studies, and Classics, and draws in collaborators from Music, Visual Art, Film, Philosophy and History.

Rank #1: Intercultural Literary Practices

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Laura Lonsdale (Queen's College, Oxford): 'Barbarisms: Multilingualism and Modernity in Narratives of the Spanish- speaking World’. Respondent: Jane Hiddleston (French/Oxford)

Nov 09 2015

56mins

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Rank #2: Philosophy of Criticism - Malcolm Budd’s “The Intersubjective Validity of Aesthetic Judgements”

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Prof Derek Matravers (The Open University) on Malcolm Budd’s “The Intersubjective Validity of Aesthetic Judgements”. Tuesday February 18th, 4-6pm, Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities.

Speaker homepage. The paper is available to Oxford participants here via Weblearn. Those who are unable to read all of it may focus on sections XII to XV (p359-end).

Sep 20 2014

20mins

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Rank #3: Other Worlding

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A talk given by Peter Hitchcock from the OCCT strand "Intercultural Literary Practises."

Nov 14 2014

1hr

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Rank #4: Philosophy of Criticism - Justifying Canonic Value

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Prof. Paul Crowther (Galway) on the Canon. Convened by Dr. Klevan and Dr. Grant. Pre-seminar Reading available at https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/access/content/group/fceac83f-391f-437f-b4bf-91214ee1efaa/Philosophy%20of%20Criticism/Brit%20J%20Aesthetics-2004-Crowther-361-77.pdf

Tuesday 6 May, 5-6.30pm, Colin Matthew Room, Radcliffe Humanities

Sep 20 2014

34mins

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Rank #5: Cultures of Mind-Reading: The Novel and Other Minds - ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’

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Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group) followed by refreshments Wednesday 20th November, 4-6.30pm, The Seminar Room, TORCH, Radcliffe Humanities Building with Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group) followed by refreshments and discussion. David Herman is Professor of the Engaged Humanities in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. He is author of Storytelling and the Sciences of Mind (MIT Press, 2013) and many other books and articles working at the intersection of literary study and cognitive science. Emily Troscianko is a JRF in Modern Languages at St John’s College, Oxford. Her study of Kafka, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism, will be published early next year by Routledge. James Carney is a post-doctoral researcher in the Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group in Oxford. He is co-editor of Beckett Re-Membered: After the Centenary (2012) and is currently working on a monograph entitled: Life Stories: Towards a Biosemiotic Model of Narrative Signification to be published by de Gruyter. The seminar is the first organized as part of a new project with the working title: “Cultures of Mindreading: The novel and other minds” Report from Cultures of Mind-Reading: The Novel and Other Minds
The session inaugurated a new thread in the Comparative Criticism and Translation Programme which will be investigating ways in which the novel as a form reflects on and contributes to a flexible understanding of how human beings interact with, understand and make sense of each other. David Herman’s presentation focused on the limit case: interacting with and understanding non-human animals, asking where and why we draw the limits of mutual understanding, and looking at the ways in which narratives which focus on animal consciousness can reflect on, expand and explore the limits of human self-understanding. Emily Troscianko, in her response, asked whether there was a lingering commitment in Herman’s otherwise very innovative approach to a model of consciousness as a representation of the world (agent-makes-representation-of-environment-in-its-mind). This is a crucial point. If we want to escape from the idea that literature ‘mirrors’ the world, it is probably helpful to give up the parallel trope that the mind ‘mirrors’ reality and to look to models, like that of Alva Noë, on whom David Herman drew in his presentation, which understand the mind not as a mirror or inner state but as a form of shared practice: a product of things people do together in a shared environment. James Carney emphasized the importance of checking the models of narrative we develop with what can be observed of the way people actually behave. He reminded us of the variety of narrative forms, not all of which we treat in the same way, and not all of which we have the same expectations of. Finally, he issued a caveat about anthropomorphism. However circumspect we are when approaching and trying to understand animal minds, it is all too easy to construct them in the end as nothing more than attenuated human minds. An element which strongly emerged from the discussion was the strength of the assumption that there will be one uniform human mind or one uniform animal mind. But the more we include culture and shared practices of interaction in our approach, the less tenable this will appear. Human beings and dogs learn to interact with each other in specific contexts, so there will be as many varieties of canine minds as there are cultures of dog-handling. The session opened the way for further study of the different cultures through which we learn to engage with other minded beings. (BM)

Participants: Ben Morgan, James Carney, Emily Troscianko, David Herman, Céline Sabiron, K. Earnshaw, Yin Yin Zu, Laura Marcus, John Cook, Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Laurence Mann, Matthew Reynolds, Stephen Harrison, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Simon Kemp, Xiaofan Amy Li, Lianjiang Yu, Kaitlin Standt, Foranzisha Kohlt, Ian Klinke, Anne Sommer, Rey Conquer, Lia Raitt Kaitt, Barry Murname, Christopher Cheung, San Verhauert, E. Cykoswke, L. Braddork, Alicia Gaj, Brooke Berdtson, Joanna Raisbeck, Benedict Morrison, Harriet Wragg.

Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group).

Sep 20 2014

1hr 2mins

Play

Rank #6: OCCT event - The Creativity of Criticism part two

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Short presentation by Dr Matthew Reynolds (English) followed by discussion.

Dec 19 2014

23mins

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Rank #7: Philosophy of Criticism - Creativity, Culture and Tradition

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Prof. Berys Gaut (St Andrews) on Creativity

Sep 20 2014

1hr 5mins

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Rank #8: Languages of Criticism - Translation and Comparison part two

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Translation and Comparison. Convener: Dr. Xiaofan Amy Li

Dec 17 2014

31mins

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Rank #9: Unbuttoning Catullus

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A discussion with Dr Gail Trimble, Prof. Nicola Gardini, Josephine Balmer for the OCCT Translation and Criticism strand. Chaired by Professor Matthew Reynolds

Dec 01 2014

1hr 18mins

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Rank #10: Languages of Criticism - Creatively Critical

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Dr Clare Connors (UEA) and Prof Wen-Chin Ouyang (SOAS) will explore the place of creativity in recent Western and classical Arabic literary criticism. Respondent: Dr Helen Slaney.

Sep 20 2014

2hr 21mins

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Rank #11: Philosophy of Criticism - Creativity as a Virtue of Character

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Prof. Matthew Kieran (Leeds) Tuesday January 28th, 4-6pm, Colin Matthew Room, Radcliffe Humanities.

Preparatory reading is here and the speaker’s homepage is here/ http://www.matthewkieran.com/

Sep 20 2014

1hr 52mins

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Rank #12: OCCT event - The Creativity of Criticism part four

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Short presentation by Dr Martyn Harry (Music) followed by discussion. This seminar launched the Languages of Criticism project which brings together experts in literature, film, visual art and music to pursue a comparative investigation of criticism’s practices, their intellectual basis, and the potential for re-grounding and enriching them. We used examples from a variety of art forms to initiate questions regarding the creative possibilities of criticism.

Among those present were Céline Sabiron, Ben Morgan, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Emma Ben Ayoun, Bryony Skelton, James Bond, Kamile Vaupsaite, Ellen Jones, Giovanni Mezzano, Xiaofan Amy Li, G. Lawson Conquer, Mia Cuthbertson, Junting Huang, Rafe Hampson, Joseph Jenner, Gail Trimble, Scott Newman, Julia Bray, James Grant, Robert Chard, Simon Palfrey, Philippe Roussin, Laurent Châtel, Emily Troscianko, Natasha Ryan, Charlie Louth, David Bowe, Lucy Russell, Jane Hiddleston, Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzly, Anita Paz, Harriet Wragg, Benedict Morrison, Kate Leadbetter, Katerina Virvidaki, Sarah Leyla Puells A, Thomas Toles, Lianjiang Yu, Carole Bourne-Taylor

Andrew Klevan, University Lecturer in Film Studies, played a clip from The Magnificent Ambersons, read out a passage of criticism about it, and then explained why he felt the passage of criticism had value, paying attention especially to its style.
Matthew Reynolds, a lecturer in the English Faculty, explored the borderline between perception and invention in literary criticism, discussing in particular Keats’s ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and a passages by Ali Smith and William Empson.
Jason Gaiger, Head of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, conducted a thought experiment in which works from Tate Modern were given away to people to keep in their homes. He asked what role criticism can play when a work’s context and situation are more significant than its intrinsic qualities.
Martyn Harry, composer and lecturer in the Music Faculty, explored how pieces of music can themselves function as works of criticism
Discussion probed many of the arguments made in the talks and raised new points, such as the relation between criticism and translation, and between criticism and commentary, and the different practices that might be thought of as criticism in different cultures.

Dec 19 2014

10mins

Play

Rank #13: Translators and Writers - Poetry and the Act of Translation

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Prof Patrick McGuinness (MML) on pseudo translations and Dr Adriana X Jacobs (Oriental Studies) on rogue translations. Respondent: Kasia Szymanska. Wednesday 14 May, 4-6.30pm, Seminar Room 7, St Anne’s College with Prof Patrick McGuinness (MML) on pseudo translations and Dr Adriana X Jacobs (Oriental Studies) on rogue translations. Respondent: Kasia Szymanska.

Sep 20 2014

55mins

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Rank #14: To the Lighthouse

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Laura Salisbury, Sowon Park (English), give a talk about Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse. The chair is Ben Morgan (MML). Part of the Fiction and Other Minds OCCT Strand.

Feb 09 2015

1hr 17mins

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Rank #15: Languages of Criticism - The Practice of Commentary

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Dr Robert Chard (Oriental Studies) on Commentary and the Confucian Ritual Canon, and Prof Stephen Harrison (Classics) on Commentary and Reception in Classics. Robert Chard and Stephen Harrison on the Practice of Commentary

Tuesday 11th March, 4-6pm, St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 8

Dr Robert Chard (Oriental Studies) on Commentary and the Confucian Ritual Canon, and Prof Stephen Harrison (Classics) on Commentary and Reception in Classics. As they traverse their diverse materials the talks will explore how and why commentary expands on and extrapolates from its source texts, and how it can invent in the name of correcting. Xiaofan Amy Li will chair.

Sep 20 2014

1hr 34mins

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Translation as Afterlife

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In this seminar, Marcela Sulak (Bar Ilan University) and Adriana X. Jacobs (Oriental Studies) will explore the possibility of translation as “afterlife” through a discussion of the Hebrew poets Orit Gidali and Hezy Leskly. Marcela Sulak’s talk is entitled “Translating Ghosts and Unborn Souls: When Love Poetry is Political”. Adriana X. Jacobs talk is “Hezy Leskly’s Zombie Memories”.

Feb 24 2017

47mins

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“Forgotten Europe”: Translating Marginalised Languages

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Looking specifically at Modern Greek, Polish, Dutch, and Swedish, this event interrogates what it means to translate and publish marginalised and minor European languages into English. Translations from French, German and Spanish (and more recently, non-European giants such as Arabic and Chinese) dominate the contemporary literary scene. Arranged in a “conversazione” format, four translators discuss what it means to assert and champion the forgotten voices of minor and marginalised European languages. With Peter Mackridge (Oxford); Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Paul Vincent (UCL); Sarah Death
Chair: Kasia Szymanska (Oxford).

Feb 10 2017

1hr 16mins

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Between Languages: Working in and out on Translation

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With Adriana X. Jacobs (Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature), Kasia Szymanska (Junior Research Fellow in Slavonic Studies, University College), chaired by Kate Costello (DPhil candidate in Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature). In Michaelmas 2016 the OCCT Discussion Group will follow a new format: we’ll be focussing on key issues in the methodology of comparative study. The sessions will begin with a short conversation between two senior members moderated by a graduate representative, followed by a discussion of the recommended readings. We hope to encourage graduates to think about their research within a comparative context, and contribute to creating a vibrant OCCT graduate community.

Nov 30 2016

23mins

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Literature Beyond Literary Studies: Intermediality and Interdisciplinarity

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With Professor Ben Morgan (Professor of German) and Peter Hill (Junior Research Fellow in Arabic Literature, Christ Church College), chaired by Karoline Watroba (DPhil candidate in German and Comparative Criticism).

Nov 01 2016

17mins

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Comparative Criticism: What Is It and Why Do We Do It?

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Matthew Reynolds and Mohamed-Salah Omri discuss comparative literary criticism. Chaired by Valeria Taddei. Matthew Reynolds, Professor of English and Comparative Criticism, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Professor of Modern Arabic Language and Literature and Valeria Taddei, DPhil candidate in Italian and Comparative Literature.

Oct 19 2016

22mins

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Intercultural Literary Practices

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Laura Lonsdale (Queen's College, Oxford): 'Barbarisms: Multilingualism and Modernity in Narratives of the Spanish- speaking World’. Respondent: Jane Hiddleston (French/Oxford)

Nov 09 2015

56mins

Play

Fiction and Other Minds

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Peter Garratt (Durham): ‘Mind Bloat and The Lifted Veil’ Helen Small (English/Oxford): 'On the Verification of Mental Experience'. Chaired by Ben Morgan.

Nov 09 2015

47mins

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Extremist Translation and the Deformation Zone

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Joyelle McSweeney (University of Notre Dame), Johannes Göransson (University of Notre Dame), Dr Adriana X. Jacobs (Oriental Institute), give a talk for the OCCT Translation and Criticism strand.

Jul 24 2015

57mins

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Lunchtime talk with Italian journalist Antonio Armano

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Cultural journalist and a writer.Antonio Armano in conversation with Valentina Gosetti. Conversation with Antonio Armano, a cultural journalist and a writer. He was the editor of Saturno, and he regularly contributes to Italian national newspapers and magazines, including Il Fatto Quotidiano, and Treccani.it. He is the author of Maledizioni. Processi, sequestri, censure a scrittori e editori in Italia dal dopoguerra a oggi, anzi domani (Aragno 2013, BUR, 2014), which was shortlisted for the Viareggio prize in 2014.
This lunch conversation was held in Italian and English and focused on the contemporary history of censorship in literature, mainly after WWII, which is also the subject of Antonio Armano’s book. This is a history that goes beyond the Italian context, and that Italy shares with many other western countries.

Jun 23 2015

1hr

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Translation and Ekphrasis: Dante and the visual arts

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Ekphrasis finds words for paintings and other visual phenomena; translation finds words for other words. But how secure in this distinction, given that language has visual form, and that the visual arts can employ language-like elements? This seminar explores the interplay between translation and ekphrasis.

Feb 24 2015

1hr 53mins

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Intercultural Tales

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Hanan al-Shaykh gives a talk on 'Intercultural Literary Practices', with responses by Professor Marina Warner and Claire Gallien, chaired by Prof. Mohamed-Salah Omri (Oriental Studies). Part of the Intercultural Literary Practices OCCT Strand.

Feb 17 2015

1hr 17mins

Play

To the Lighthouse

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Laura Salisbury, Sowon Park (English), give a talk about Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse. The chair is Ben Morgan (MML). Part of the Fiction and Other Minds OCCT Strand.

Feb 09 2015

1hr 17mins

Play

OCCT event - The Creativity of Criticism part four

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Short presentation by Dr Martyn Harry (Music) followed by discussion. This seminar launched the Languages of Criticism project which brings together experts in literature, film, visual art and music to pursue a comparative investigation of criticism’s practices, their intellectual basis, and the potential for re-grounding and enriching them. We used examples from a variety of art forms to initiate questions regarding the creative possibilities of criticism.

Among those present were Céline Sabiron, Ben Morgan, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Emma Ben Ayoun, Bryony Skelton, James Bond, Kamile Vaupsaite, Ellen Jones, Giovanni Mezzano, Xiaofan Amy Li, G. Lawson Conquer, Mia Cuthbertson, Junting Huang, Rafe Hampson, Joseph Jenner, Gail Trimble, Scott Newman, Julia Bray, James Grant, Robert Chard, Simon Palfrey, Philippe Roussin, Laurent Châtel, Emily Troscianko, Natasha Ryan, Charlie Louth, David Bowe, Lucy Russell, Jane Hiddleston, Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzly, Anita Paz, Harriet Wragg, Benedict Morrison, Kate Leadbetter, Katerina Virvidaki, Sarah Leyla Puells A, Thomas Toles, Lianjiang Yu, Carole Bourne-Taylor

Andrew Klevan, University Lecturer in Film Studies, played a clip from The Magnificent Ambersons, read out a passage of criticism about it, and then explained why he felt the passage of criticism had value, paying attention especially to its style.
Matthew Reynolds, a lecturer in the English Faculty, explored the borderline between perception and invention in literary criticism, discussing in particular Keats’s ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and a passages by Ali Smith and William Empson.
Jason Gaiger, Head of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, conducted a thought experiment in which works from Tate Modern were given away to people to keep in their homes. He asked what role criticism can play when a work’s context and situation are more significant than its intrinsic qualities.
Martyn Harry, composer and lecturer in the Music Faculty, explored how pieces of music can themselves function as works of criticism
Discussion probed many of the arguments made in the talks and raised new points, such as the relation between criticism and translation, and between criticism and commentary, and the different practices that might be thought of as criticism in different cultures.

Dec 19 2014

10mins

Play

OCCT event - The Creativity of Criticism part three

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Short presentation by Dr Jason Gaiger (Ruskin School) followed by discussion. This seminar launched the Languages of Criticism project which brings together experts in literature, film, visual art and music to pursue a comparative investigation of criticism’s practices, their intellectual basis, and the potential for re-grounding and enriching them. We used examples from a variety of art forms to initiate questions regarding the creative possibilities of criticism.

Among those present were Céline Sabiron, Ben Morgan, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Emma Ben Ayoun, Bryony Skelton, James Bond, Kamile Vaupsaite, Ellen Jones, Giovanni Mezzano, Xiaofan Amy Li, G. Lawson Conquer, Mia Cuthbertson, Junting Huang, Rafe Hampson, Joseph Jenner, Gail Trimble, Scott Newman, Julia Bray, James Grant, Robert Chard, Simon Palfrey, Philippe Roussin, Laurent Châtel, Emily Troscianko, Natasha Ryan, Charlie Louth, David Bowe, Lucy Russell, Jane Hiddleston, Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzly, Anita Paz, Harriet Wragg, Benedict Morrison, Kate Leadbetter, Katerina Virvidaki, Sarah Leyla Puells A, Thomas Toles, Lianjiang Yu, Carole Bourne-Taylor

Andrew Klevan, University Lecturer in Film Studies, played a clip from The Magnificent Ambersons, read out a passage of criticism about it, and then explained why he felt the passage of criticism had value, paying attention especially to its style.
Matthew Reynolds, a lecturer in the English Faculty, explored the borderline between perception and invention in literary criticism, discussing in particular Keats’s ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and a passages by Ali Smith and William Empson.
Jason Gaiger, Head of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, conducted a thought experiment in which works from Tate Modern were given away to people to keep in their homes. He asked what role criticism can play when a work’s context and situation are more significant than its intrinsic qualities.
Martyn Harry, composer and lecturer in the Music Faculty, explored how pieces of music can themselves function as works of criticism
Discussion probed many of the arguments made in the talks and raised new points, such as the relation between criticism and translation, and between criticism and commentary, and the different practices that might be thought of as criticism in different cultures.

Dec 19 2014

11mins

Play

OCCT event - The Creativity of Criticism part two

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Short presentation by Dr Matthew Reynolds (English) followed by discussion.

Dec 19 2014

23mins

Play

Languages of Criticism - Translation and Comparison part two

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Translation and Comparison. Convener: Dr. Xiaofan Amy Li

Dec 17 2014

31mins

Play

Unbuttoning Catullus

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A discussion with Dr Gail Trimble, Prof. Nicola Gardini, Josephine Balmer for the OCCT Translation and Criticism strand. Chaired by Professor Matthew Reynolds

Dec 01 2014

1hr 18mins

Play

Other Worlding

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A talk given by Peter Hitchcock from the OCCT strand "Intercultural Literary Practises."

Nov 14 2014

1hr

Play

Kirmen Uribe - Reading and in discussion with Daniela Omlor and Xon de Ros

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A reading and discussion from the Translation and Criticism strand, Cultures of Mind-Reading: The Novel and Other Minds Intercultural Literary Practices.

Nov 14 2014

1hr 14mins

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Cultures of Mind-Reading: The Novel and Other Minds - ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’

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Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group) followed by refreshments Wednesday 20th November, 4-6.30pm, The Seminar Room, TORCH, Radcliffe Humanities Building with Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group) followed by refreshments and discussion. David Herman is Professor of the Engaged Humanities in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. He is author of Storytelling and the Sciences of Mind (MIT Press, 2013) and many other books and articles working at the intersection of literary study and cognitive science. Emily Troscianko is a JRF in Modern Languages at St John’s College, Oxford. Her study of Kafka, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism, will be published early next year by Routledge. James Carney is a post-doctoral researcher in the Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group in Oxford. He is co-editor of Beckett Re-Membered: After the Centenary (2012) and is currently working on a monograph entitled: Life Stories: Towards a Biosemiotic Model of Narrative Signification to be published by de Gruyter. The seminar is the first organized as part of a new project with the working title: “Cultures of Mindreading: The novel and other minds” Report from Cultures of Mind-Reading: The Novel and Other Minds
The session inaugurated a new thread in the Comparative Criticism and Translation Programme which will be investigating ways in which the novel as a form reflects on and contributes to a flexible understanding of how human beings interact with, understand and make sense of each other. David Herman’s presentation focused on the limit case: interacting with and understanding non-human animals, asking where and why we draw the limits of mutual understanding, and looking at the ways in which narratives which focus on animal consciousness can reflect on, expand and explore the limits of human self-understanding. Emily Troscianko, in her response, asked whether there was a lingering commitment in Herman’s otherwise very innovative approach to a model of consciousness as a representation of the world (agent-makes-representation-of-environment-in-its-mind). This is a crucial point. If we want to escape from the idea that literature ‘mirrors’ the world, it is probably helpful to give up the parallel trope that the mind ‘mirrors’ reality and to look to models, like that of Alva Noë, on whom David Herman drew in his presentation, which understand the mind not as a mirror or inner state but as a form of shared practice: a product of things people do together in a shared environment. James Carney emphasized the importance of checking the models of narrative we develop with what can be observed of the way people actually behave. He reminded us of the variety of narrative forms, not all of which we treat in the same way, and not all of which we have the same expectations of. Finally, he issued a caveat about anthropomorphism. However circumspect we are when approaching and trying to understand animal minds, it is all too easy to construct them in the end as nothing more than attenuated human minds. An element which strongly emerged from the discussion was the strength of the assumption that there will be one uniform human mind or one uniform animal mind. But the more we include culture and shared practices of interaction in our approach, the less tenable this will appear. Human beings and dogs learn to interact with each other in specific contexts, so there will be as many varieties of canine minds as there are cultures of dog-handling. The session opened the way for further study of the different cultures through which we learn to engage with other minded beings. (BM)

Participants: Ben Morgan, James Carney, Emily Troscianko, David Herman, Céline Sabiron, K. Earnshaw, Yin Yin Zu, Laura Marcus, John Cook, Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Laurence Mann, Matthew Reynolds, Stephen Harrison, Mohamed-Salah Omri, Simon Kemp, Xiaofan Amy Li, Lianjiang Yu, Kaitlin Standt, Foranzisha Kohlt, Ian Klinke, Anne Sommer, Rey Conquer, Lia Raitt Kaitt, Barry Murname, Christopher Cheung, San Verhauert, E. Cykoswke, L. Braddork, Alicia Gaj, Brooke Berdtson, Joanna Raisbeck, Benedict Morrison, Harriet Wragg.

Prof David Herman (Durham) on ‘Narrative and/as Heterophenomenology: Modelling Nonhuman Experiences in Storyworlds’ with responses from Dr Emily Troscianko (MML) and Dr James Carney (Social and Evolutionary Science Research Group).

Sep 20 2014

1hr 2mins

Play