Translating difficult histories

Jennifer WongSeminar Room 3

In this panel, we will explore the convergence and inter-relationship between literary research and creative writing practice. In particular, we emphasise the importance of narration and (self-)translation as a means of articulating new forms of selfhood in the contemporary moment. In our presentation, we will discuss (i) the knowledge gained from critical research via literary texts, followed by (ii) a shared reading of our creative work inspired by research.

Drawing on different theoretical approaches such as postcolonial and trauma studies, cultural theories on positioning as well as psychoanalytic perspectives, we aim to examine how the present translates and carries with it memories of different times and places, the possibilities and limits of representation.

Maya Caspari, PhD candidate, University of Leeds
Funded by the AHRC WRoCAH consortium, Caspari’s research focuses on the representation of touch in contemporary world literature. Drawing from new materialism, postcolonial studies and trauma studies, Caspari’s work examines how writers including Teju Cole, Han Kang, Katja Petrowskaja and Claudia Rankine negotiate the politics of relation and perform a poetics of resistance in their texts. Tapping into the possibilities and limits of comparative reading, her work engages the relationship between history and the creative 'text’.

Inspired by the research on the history and translation of suffering and the relationship between the body and the outside world, Caspari writes poetry that explores the divide between what’s visible and the hidden truths from the past, between the physical and the inner being. In particular, she pushes boundaries in the use of form such as fragments, prose poetry and stream of consciousness to translate displacement and hope.

Amali Rodrigo, Associate Lecturer (Creative Writing), University of Lancaster
Grew up in Sri Lanka and based in London, Rodrigo teaches creative writing as associate lecturer at Lancaster University where she is completing her creative writing PhD. Her first collection, The Lotus Gatherers, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. Her work is informed by a strong sense that there are many different realities, an idea reflected in an alertness to the surreal and to the spiritual.

Drawing from her current practice-based research on the locale of ‘negative capability’ (1) in creative practice through Wilfred Bion's Grid and Carl Jung's use of the Mandala, Rodrigo explores the relationship between the Self and Other, the Individual and the Collective unconscious, engaging with the concepts of intertextuality, allegory and fable.

Jennifer Wong, Associate Lecturer (Creative Writing) at Oxford Brookes
Born in Hong Kong, Wong is the author of Goldfish and Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl (Bitter Melon Poetry). Her next poetry collection is forthcoming from Nine Arches Press in 2020.

Wong is an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes. Her PhD thesis examines the transnational poetics of Asian diasporic poets including Li-Young Lee, Marilyn Chin, Hannah Lowe and Sarah Howe, with a focus on the translation of identity in terms of personal longings and history.

(1): ‘…that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason – Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge.’ See The Letters of John Keats, ed. by H E Rollins, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958), i, pp. 193–4.

Fri 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm