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Research groups

27 April 2023 - 27 April 2023

1:00PM - 2:30PM

Elvet Riverside 1 and online via Zoom

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A staff and postgraduate research seminar.

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This seminar will bring together in conversation two leading scholars of nineteenth-century cosmopolitanism, Orientalism and multilingualism. Alex and Katharina will each deliver a paper on their recent work, followed by a broader thematic discussion of the place of the ‘transnational’ in Victorian studies.

Since 2015, Dr Alex Bubb has investigated a special genre of travelling text: popular translations of classic literature from Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese and the other major Asian languages, made for the general public in nineteenth-century Britain and America. Largely forgotten now, these accessible, affordable translations did much to introduce curious but non-expert readers in the West to texts like the Bhagavad Gita, the Analects of Confucius, the Shahnameh, and Persian lyric poetry. Their evidence for the reception of these translations has come largely from pencil annotations, tipped-in items, and other traces left in books by their former owners. Some of these books they have found in libraries, but most they have collected themselves. In this workshop, they will show a number of their books in order to illustrate the reading habits, preferences and practices of ‘ordinary’ Victorian readers encountering texts like the Ramayana and Qur’an for the first time.

Dr Katharina Herold-Zanker's book examines the Orientalist portrayal of Middle Eastern cultures in Decadent Literatures in England and Germany. Her talk will critique the Anglo-German national stereotyping in satirical newspapers at the turn of the century/early twentieth century. She will discuss an article by Edmund Gosse reviewing the German satire magazine Simplicissimus. The article appeared in the English, post-decadent journal The Gypsy (published by Arthur Symons  from 1915 to 1916). The weekly journal Simplicissimus, this ‘all-powerful Bavarian newspaper’, as Gosse called it, was one of the most important mouthpieces of the bohemian circles in Germany. Gosse’s contribution to The Gypsy is interesting because it analysed the national German character through political caricature and satire while viewing the colonialised ‘East’ as the centre of political and artistic interaction. The comparison of the diverging perceptions of ‘the East’ in the Edwardian and Wilhelmine periodical presses reveals how contradictory narratives of Europe’s decadence as progress evolved in times of expanding global conflict.