4 September, 2pm
Alice Guthrie | Daniel Medin | Charlotte Ryland | Alan Taylor | Elleke Boehmer (Chair)
How do authors’ political interventions relate to the market activism of ‘industry stakeholders’? To what extent do literary work and extra-literary activism condition each other? In what ways do the personae of creative writer, critic, and activist coexist, nurture, or interfere with each other? How has the literary world been transformed by both celebrity culture and the ‘digital turn’? What is the social and cultural responsibility of the author in the 21st century, and how can they respond to the current global challenges we are all facing? To address these questions, this panel brings together the perspectives of the writer, translator, literary editor, critic, scholar, and literary prize judge, featuring contributions by Alice Guthrie, Daniel Medin, Charlotte Ryland, Alan Taylor, and Elleke Boehmer, who will chair the discussion.
Alice Guthrie is an independent translator and editor specialising in contemporary Arabic literary, academic and media content. Her translations have been appearing in a broad range of international venues and publications since 2008, recognised with various grants and honours – most recently the Jules Chametzky Translation Prize 2019. Among her ongoing projects is the translation of Moroccan feminist Malika Moustadraf’s complete works, a work of ‘literary recovery’ involving painstaking research into the writer’s persecuted life and controversial early death. As a commissioning editor she is currently compiling the first ever anthology of queer Arabic writing, set to appear in parallel Arabic and English editions in 2021. She also programmes the literary strand of London’s biennale Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, and teaches on the Translation Studies MA at Exeter University. She is also an Associate of the Stephen Spender Trust.
Daniel Medin is an editor and a professor at the American University of Paris (AUP), where he teaches contemporary world literature and editorial practice. His research is principally concerned with modern fiction from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with an emphasis on the work and global reception of Franz Kafka. He is Associate Director of AUP’s Center for Writers and Translators, and one of the editors of its Cahiers Series. He is also co-editor of Music & Literature magazine and advises The White Review, Edit (Germany), and other journals on contemporary international fiction. He has judged leading translation prizes in the USA (Best Translated Book Award, 2014-2015) and the UK (Man Booker International Prize, 2016), and is now on the jury of their German equivalent (HKW Internationaler Literaturpreis, 2018-2020).
Charlotte Ryland is Director of the Stephen Spender Trust and founding Director of the Queen's College Translation Exchange, an initiative based at the University of Oxford. Through both organisations she aims to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in literary translation, to promote language-learning, and to bring creative translation activities into UK schools. She also works as a Lecturer in German at Queen’s College, Oxford, as a literary project manager, and translator. Until 2019, she ran New Books in German, an international project promoting literature in German and facilitating translations into English.
Alan Taylor has been editor and board member of the Scottish Review of Books since 2004. He was deputy and managing editor at The Scotsman, and Associate Editor of the Sunday Herald. A former Booker judge, he has edited several acclaimed anthologies, including The Assassin’s Cloak, The Country Diaries (Canongate), and Glasgow: The Autobiography (Birlinn). His most recent book is Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark (Polygon, 2017), and he is the editor of the centenary editions of the Collected Novels of Muriel Spark (Polygon).
Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is the author and editor of over twenty books, including Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial: Resistance in Interaction (2002), Stories of Women (2005), Indian Arrivals 1870- 1915: Networks of British Empire (2015), Postcolonial Poetics: 21st-Century Critical Readings (2018), and a widely translated biography of Nelson Mandela (2008). She is the award-winning author of five novels, including Bloodlines (2000), Nile Baby (2008), and The Shouting in the Dark (2015), and two collections of short stories, most recently To the Volcano, and Other Stories (2019). Boehmer is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Life Writing and principal investigator of Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds.