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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Translation and Linguistics Research Group Seminar: Rob Halpern, Associate Professor of Creative Writing 'Nonmastery and Partisanship: Some Notes on Translating Georges Perec’s Early Essays on Aesthetics and Politics'

19th May 2015, 13:00, ER141, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Talk abstract:
In a world of hardening borders and contested spaces, translation means more than just the unimpeded movement from one language or another. Rather than insisting on the disinterested and authoritative translation, I’m interested in how translation practices are grounded in somatic experience and social praxis, often aiming to repurpose their source texts in order to organize a particular set of interests within a given cultural ecology. My talk will focus specifically on my recent work translating Georges Perec’s early essays, written collaboratively between 1958 and 1963 when Perec was part of a politically radical collective of Leftist writers called La Ligne générale, or L.G., after the 1929 Soviet film by Sergei Eisenstein. Perec’s essays pursue a series of critical investigations committed to a Marxian critique of French cultural production. My approach to translating this work underscores the values of “partisanship” and “nonmastery,” which I will address in my talk as they relate specifically to Perec’s early work.

About the speaker:
Rob Halpern is the author of four volumes of poetry: Rumored Place (2004), Disaster Suites (2009), Music for Porn (2012), and most recently, Common Place (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015). [ ——— ] Placeholder, a book-length selection of his poetry and prose drawn from across all of these books, was just published in the UK by Enitharmon (2015). Halpern is also an essayist and translator. Recent critical essays on topics ranging from Charles Baudelaire and George Oppen, to New Narrative and Conceptual Writing appear in Journal of Narrative Theory, Modernist Cultures, The Claudius App, Mediations, and Chicago Review. His translations of Georges Perec’s early essays on aesthetics and politics can be found in various publications, including Review of Contemporary Fiction and Paul Revere’s Horse, and will appear as a collection in 2016 (Nightboat Books). He lives between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he runs writing workshops at the Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility and is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University.

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