The Research Centre in Comparative Criticism and Translation will support comparative work across literatures in different languages and between literature, film, art and music. The programme brings together academics and students from English, Medieval and Modern Languages, Oriental Studies, and Classics, and draws in participants from music, visual art, history, and film. The New Library and Academic Centre will become a home for the programme at the heart of the University of Oxford, and will serve as a resource for visitors who come to St Anne's to take part in an innovative range of cultural events and research activity.
The old discipline of Comparative Literature is changing. Its Eurocentric heritage has been challenged by competing 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 intellectual questions that arise are both compelling and central to the future of the humanities: what should literary study be like in a world culture? How is literature being changed by its global circulation and its interaction with other media? How should we think about the relation between literatures and languages, when texts are increasingly becoming multilingual, both in themselves and through translation? The Centre for Comparative Criticism and Translation is a unique forum for exploring such questions, creating new opportunities for collaborative research and supporting comparative teaching at undergraduate and graduate level.
Its base within St Anne’s will allow it to reach beyond the University, hosting resident writers and translators and collaborating with Oxford Student PEN, which has an active membership within the College. The Centre would draw on The Weidenfeld Chair in Comparative European Literature and The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, both established parts of the academic year at St Anne's.
Building on the success of New Grounds for Comparative Criticism, which has over 60 participants in its graduate group, the Centre will provide an intellectual home for doctoral students working within the field. The New Library and Academic Centre will provide a physical home in which participants can meet, work together, and feel part of an active research community. It will be used to host discussion groups, seminars and other research activity.
Literature is changing in our current multicultural, multilingual and multimedia circumstances - and the way we study it needs to adapt as well. The Programme in Comparative Criticism and Translation is an exhilarating intellectual collaboration which is starting to make this happen, and defining what is at stake.
Dr Matthew Reynolds Fellow and Tutor in English Language and Literature