Department News

This category captures all the news related to the department.

LCL to Celebrate New Program in Literary Translation on February 21rst

The Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages will host an evening of talks by award-winning translators to celebrate the launch of its new Program in Literary Translation.

Three distinguished speakers will present on literary translation and human rights.  These incluse Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, Edith Grossman, translator of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, and Esther Allen, translator of Zama by Antonio di Benedetto and Book of Lamentations by Rosario Castellano.

Tuesday, February 21 at the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.  A reception will be held to inaugurate the event beginning at 6 p.m.

Co-sponsored by UCHI and the Human Rights Institute.

For more information or to request accommodations, please contact Peter Constantine at peter.constantine@uconn.edu.

MLA specialist Tracy Hartman to explore alternative careers for Humanities PhDs this week

MLA hartman website ad Next week Dr. Tracy Hartman will be visiting UConn to engage graduate students and faculty about expanding their understanding of the career possibilities for those pursuing PhDs in the Humanities.  Dr. Hartman comes to UConn from the MLA, where she serves as Project Coordinator for Connected Academics (https://connect.mla.hcommons.org/) whose mission is to “support initiatives aimed at demonstrating how doctoral education can develop students’ capacities to bring the expertise they acquire in advanced humanistic study to a wide range of fulfilling, secure, and well-compensated professional situations” thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which is slated to run through 2019.

The events include a workshop for graduate students on February 1 and 2 that will each run from 4:00-5:00 pm.  Dr. Hartman will also be holding a workshop for faculty on February 2nd at noon.  In addition Dr. Hartman will give a talk on the importance of Humanities PhDs in the current economic and political context. that will take place on Wednesday, Feb 1 from 1:30-2:30 pm at the Class of 1947 room at the Homer Babbidge Library.  The events are sponsored by LCL, the English Department, the Dean’s Office for CLAS and the UCHI.

 

Visiting Assistant Professor in French and Comparative Literature

chris bonner

Christopher Bonner joined the faculty of LCL this past fall to teach courses in French and Comparative Literature. He specializes in postcolonial studies and French Caribbean literature, and he seeks in his research to think through the relationship between literature and politics.

He completed his dissertation, The Alignment of Writing: Geopolitics and Literary Form in Cold War French Caribbean Literature, at NYU in 2015. In it, Bonner argues that the Surrealist-inspired avant-garde poetry that had been the touchstone of colonized black writers in the 1940s gave way, in the mid-1950s, to topical, referential prose as the prime vehicle for emancipatory politics in the French Caribbean. This formal shift, he shows, reflected a radically changed understanding of what it meant to write engaged literature, as authors adapted to a new, bipolar world order. Professor Bonner’s next book project builds on his first, but focused on modes of contemporary political engagement and resistance. In his new project, he will address the ways in which the critical strategies underlying the notion of “cultural politics” are themselves being challenged by living writers and theorists in the Caribbean. He has published his scholarship in the journal Small Axe, and has an article forthcoming in the upcoming issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies.

Bonner grew up in Philadelphia, but has lived in New York City for most of his adult life.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University in 2005. He has had a particularly rich experience with respect to teaching. He admits that a high school teacher, Ms. Mulherin, was largely responsible for inspiring the love of French and Francophone culture that lead him to the path of a career in Francophone literatures. After completing his B.A, at Columbia, he decided to become a New York City Teaching Fellow, during which he taught middle-school English in the South Bronx.  Nearly all of his students were disadvantaged, struggling with a combination of poverty, undiagnosed learning disabilities, and unstable home situations. He was forced to learn to take charge of classroom discipline quickly, but more importantly, he says that his “eighth graders taught me the value of empathy. I began to see the classroom as a site for exchange and mutual learning, both among students and between students and myself.” Building a culture of empathy and solidarity have since become principles of his teaching, which Professor Bonner feels are especially important in foreign language classrooms. When voicing ideas in a second language, “students have to feel comfortable enough to risk making mistakes.”

While here at UConn, Professor Bonner will be offering an impressive range of courses, including classes on Global Cinema and World Literatures for the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies program plus courses in literary theory, literature, and conversation classes.

A SNAPSHOT FROM LAST WEEK’S LANGSA CONFERENCE: RYAN EVELYN PRESENTS

On Friday morning at the LANGSA conference during the panel centered around Queer migrations, LCL graduate student Ryan Evelyn delivered his paper, “Small Places, Voiceless Faces: Ambiguity and Cultural Displacement in Two Novels by Gide and Guibert.” Ryan discussed gender representations, specifically the representation of masculinity in homosexuality as well as the concepts of cultural migration and spatial dichotomy in the two novels Les Faux-Monnayeurs, written in 1925 by André Gide, and À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie, written in 1990 by Hervé Guibert. Ryan went on to compare and contrast the spatial representations of homosexuality in the two novels, making the distinction between the private domain and public domain. Through his analysis, Ryan demonstrated the migration from the private to the public domain that took place in time between the publications of the two novels. Ryan’s research brings to light questions of self-acceptance and marginalization, ideas that remain pertinent to discussions of identity within the homosexual community.

Ryan Evelyn is a second-year Master’s student studying French and Francophone literature in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. Though his research focuses primarily on the Early-Modern and Renaissance periods, he dabbles in literature of the 20th century. Gender, representations of masculine homosexuality, and spatial dichotomies remain at the forefront of his research.

Ryan Evelyn
Ryan Evelyn

A Visit From Raul Aguiar

raul-aguiar-post-photo

On Monday, October 24th Cuban poet Raul Aguiar visited UConn’s Latin American Cultural Center to give a talk and workshop on the manipulation of the Spanish language within fictional writing.

 

Aguiar’s narrative writing seminars usually take place at the state-owned Onelio Jorge Cardoso Literary Center named after the famous Cuban storyteller and located in Habana. Classes are free of charge and provide Cuban students with the opportunity to learn about narrative techniques and the great classics of the history of Hispanic literature while practicing their storytelling skills in an interactive and amusing way. Even though the center is not lucrative, the author thinks its near-future existence is not threatened. The center often hosts prestigious writers such as José Saramago and features annual, short-fiction competitions in which the winners receive funding for their writing projects and have the possibility of publishing them afterwards. Over 1000 students have graduated from the center, among them LCL graduate student, Milena Almira.

 

We were excited by the diverse audience and relaxed environment of the event. Aguiar explained, in Spanish, “English is magnificient to speak of business, German to talk about war, French and Italian to talk about romance, and Spanish to speak with the gods.” Aguiar then engaged undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in a conversation on the flexibility that exists within the syntactical structures of the Spanish language. Aguiar argued that Spanish offers an almost infinite liberty to exchange phrases and verbs, changing where the weight of the phrase lays, in order to convey different meaning or evoke various feelings in the reader.

 

During his workshop the novelist reflected on Cuban literary trends within the last decades. According to Aguiar, his generation avoided conflicts. This prepared the ground for topics that had never been examined before, such as youth diversity. He also spoke about how the current generation of Cuban writers likes experimenting with different literary genres and writing shorter stories due to the influence of blogs and social media platforms such as Twitter. Aguiar’s most recent work, by contrast, has been inspired by his love for hard rock music. While listening to it in English, he wrote La estrella boca arriba, a book about rock bands and the symbols surrounding them. A new edition of his novel has just been published in Spanish.

 

Aguiar also offered valuable advice to us as writers. All of us, whether student or faculty, have experienced writer’s block. Aguiar explained that when this happens the best thing to do is to revert back to the most simple sentences to express our thoughts. Upon getting the idea on paper, we can then start to re-order phrases and words to better evoke feeling and voice behind the language.

 

If you would like to support the center or learn more about Aguiar and his work, please contact Professor Jacqueline Loss at jacqueline.loss@uconn.edu.

 

Phoebe Giannisi presents HOMERICA at UConn

jtphoebe-giannisi-homerica-event1On October 18th internationally renowned Greek-poet Phoebe Giannisi came to UConn to offer a reading of her dramatic performance of poetry. The event was co-organized by the Literary Translation Program, launched by LCL Professor Peter Constantine, and the Creative Writing Program. Giannisi presented various poems of her book Homerica in Greek, while her translator, the UConn Ph.D. student in English and Literary Translation Studies, Brian Sneeden, read them in English. Many of Giannisi’s poems evoke or are named after Classical Greek mythological figures such as Achilles, Penelope and Orpheus. Among the highlights of her performance was her original piece Tettix (‘Cicada’ in Ancient Greek), which talks about erotic desire, poetry, melody inspiration, metamorphosis, and death. While writing the poems, Giannisi described her care for how the poem would be heard rhythmically, at the border of song and reading. Since  Homeric poetry was recited by heart with very strong rhythmic patterns, she thought of making a DVD that would accompany her book. In this way, while listening to the poems, the audience could see the locations where the poems were recorded in Mount Pelion in Greece, creating a compelling audiovisual experience that captured the special atmosphere of each place. Tettix is one of Giannisi’s most successful works and was exhibited in the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens.

 

Trained in Architecture and Classics, Giannisi is an Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece and co-edits FRMK, a biannual journal of poetry, poetics, and visual arts. She has published five books of poetry and her poems present a spectacular range of styles covering three millennia of Greek history. She has a distinctive approach to poetry, as something “that comes out of the body and connects with the orality and musicality of language without following strict rules.” Her poems are written in a fusion of languages including Ancient and Modern Greek and local Greek dialects. Giannisi’s work lies between poetry performance, theory and installation, and explores the connections between language, voice, and writing with body, place, and memory. Brian Sneeden describes translating her poems as “a transformative experience.” He  commented that “Phoebe Giannisi’s poems require a certain capacity for surrender – both in terms of how one experiences language and its perceived boundaries, but also in regards to the boundaries of English, which does not draw quite as easily as Greek from a vocabulary steeped in so ancient a history.”

 

For more information about her poetry, visit Giannisi’s website: phoebegiannisi.net

 

Internationally acclaimed Greek poet Phoebe Giannisi to offer a reading at UConn on Tuesday, October 18th

jtphoebe-giannisi-homerica-event1The UConn Literary Translation Program and Creative Writing Program present Pheobe Giannisi. Her event, HOMERICA, will consist of dramatic performances of poetry in Greek and English.

 

New American Writing compares Giannisi’s work to C.P. Cavafy and Jean Rhys describing it as “completely original […] a complete rethinking of the myths. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call Giannisi’s re-tellings ‘re-weavings’ because they alter the fabric of the stories.”

 

Giannisi is the author of five books of poetry, including Homerica (2009) which was recently translated into English by University of Connecticut PhD student, Brian Sneeden. She holds degrees from the University of Lyonn II- Lumière and the National Technical University of Athens, and is an associate professor at the University of Thessaly. She co-edits FRMK, a biannual journal of poetry, poetics, and visual arts.

 

Brian Sneeden, a PhD student in English and Literary Translation Studies, describes translating Giannisi’s work as “a transformative experience. Phoebe Giannisi’s poems require a certain capacity for surrender – both in terms of how one experiences language and its perceived boundaries, but also in regards to the boundaries of English, which does not draw quite as easily as Greek from a vocabulary steeped in so ancient a history.”

Modern bard Joe Goodkin revives the Odyssey

joegoodkin-jtOn Thursday September 29th Classicist-musician Joe Goodkin performed his original musical composition of the Homeric masterpiece, the Odyssey. During the event, hosted by Professor of Classics Roger Travis, Joe played his 30-minute continuous piece that deconstructs the story of the Odyssey in song.

 

Goodkin put together a solo acoustic guitar and voice recital made of 24 original songs, whose lyrics are inspired by the epic book. His music is a fusion of mellow melodies, open-beat tunes and blues rhythms. He studied Ancient Greek at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and decided to combine his passion for the classics with his musical expertise after having written and recorded his own rock music. He has received several ASCAP Composers’ awards.

 

His UConn concert captivated the audience and following his performance, Professor Travis briefly spoke about the relevance of the Odyssey within the context of modern digital media. During the discussion, students asked Goodkin about his thoughts on the Homeric story as well as his musical background. Goodkin explained that each of his songs are an interpretation of the Odyssey and represent the personal perspectives of its main characters. He added that his songs pay tribute to the characters’ universal human dimension by recreating their feelings and experiences. Although he admitted that a lot of narrative inevitably gets lost when the book is turned into a series of songs, he said that his lyrics attempts to capture the emotional charge of the experience of hearing the epic poem as it was originally performed.

 

Since 2003 Goodkin has been on a tour at high schools and colleges across the US and Canada, and his UConn’s recital marked his 200th performance. His songs are available for purchase on iTunes and Spotify.

 

For more information, go to his website, www.joesodyssey.com

 

Adriana Alcina Gómez

Geometry of memory

museum22Jay Winter explores the geometry of memory

 

On Friday September 23rd Dr. Jay Winter visited the University of Connecticut to speak at a special event hosted by the English Department titled Behind the Lines, Across Boundaries: A Conference in Honor of Margaret Higonnet.

 

Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University, specializes in World War I history and its impact on the 20th century. Winter has dedicated his life to studying the remembrance of war, specifically focusing on memorials and mourning sites. He has authored and edited countless books and even produced the Emmy Award winning PBS series, The Great War and Shaping the 20th Century. Despite an overwhelming list of accomplishments, Winter reiterates, “I would like to be known by two things: by my writing and by my students.”

 

Winter’s discussion of the spatial logic of war memorials and the geometry of remembrance asked the audience to ponder the idea that horizontality has become the language of mourning. Winter explained that the problem of violence is too big for any one set of scholars to address. He said, “People are influenced more by what they see than by what they read.” Winter’s presentation demonstrated this idea, illustrating it with a host of moving photos of war memorials, monuments, and cemeteries. He explained his concept of the geometry of remembrance by walking the audience through his own experience of aiding in the design the Historial de la Grande Guerre (The Museum of the Great War) in Peronne, France.  The exhibits were designed on a horizontal axis, with the objects of war placed in dugouts in the ground, forcing viewers to look down, much as they would look have at a gravesite or a trench.

 

Winter also discussed the gendering of mourning, comparing the postures of the granite statues of Karl and Käthe Kollwitz at their son’s gravesite in Belgium (above). Winter noted that on a rainy day, it would appear as though the statue of Käthe Kollwitz were actually crying. Winter concluded his riveting talk with the idea that, since the First World War, horizontality has come to represent horror, as opposed to the “vertical normality” which was common prior to that period.

 

Ayjan Arik

Language play: Transformation through language and creativity

banciu-2The award-winning novelist and lecturer Carmen-Francesca Banciu spoke on September 22nd about creative writing and the power of play and creativity. Banciu’s experiences as an immigrant are often echoed in her characters’ journeys. Banciu grew up close to the Hungarian border in a multicultural, multilingual environment, an aspect that is reflected in the way she handles language in her fiction. Her novels deal with the geographic, psychic and linguistic migrations of woman authors in Europe during and after the Communist era.

 

During her presentation, Banciu examined her complex relationship with languages. As, she explained, “each one has its own, unique sounds and words that evoke special meanings and images.” She often changes the meaning of words and plays with grammar in order to capture the diversity and uniqueness of life, languages, and cultures. The novelist argued that creativity and play have liberating effects on people since they serve as healing tools. Thus instead of fearing failure and avoiding mistakes, she allows them to play out and transforms them into art.

 

After receiving the prestigious International Short Story award of Arnsberg, Banciu was banned from publishing her work in Romania. As a result, she decided to move to Germany. She is the author of eight books, four novels, and four collections of short stories, which have been translated into many languages.  Since 2013 she also serves as co-editor and deputy director of the multilingual e-magazine Levure Littéraire.

 

Adriana Alcina Gomes

 

 

photo credit:  © Marijuana Georgia Gheorghiu.