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International Writers Podcast: Literature in the Making

Listen to William Gass Fellow Matthias Goeritz and Director of Comparative Literature, Professor Lynne Tatlock discuss the track for international writers and their course, "Literature in the Making."

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Comp Lit PhD Students Amira Khelfallah, Jey Sushil Jha, Derick Mattern, and Anca Roncea Awarded Divided City Summer Research Fellowship

Recent Awards

Recent PhD graduate, Baba Badji' has his book, "Ghost Letters," nominated and long-listed for the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry. Baba is a Senegalese-American poet, translator, researcher and was a Chancellor’s Fellow. His first book, “Ghost Letters,” is a collection of poems which weaves together and juxtaposes complex and influential themes of his own life. He "uses a personal epistolary form, blending English, French, Arabic, and Wolof into an interrogation of what it means to be Senegalese, Black, and an outsider in America. The letters, written for a “ghost mother,” travel the African diaspora across distance, race, and colonialism."

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Over the last several years, our students have won a number of prestigious awards and fellowships for their writing and academic work, including the BKKLIT Translation Prize for Poetry, The Cincinnati Review's Schiff Award for Poetry, the Philip K. Jansen Memorial Fellowship from ALTA, the Fellowship at the Cultural Academy in Tarabya at Istanbul, the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, the Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for Asian Performance, and a Best Translated Book Award for Fiction. Their short stories, poems, translations, and novels have been published by prestigious presses and journals throughout the world.

Erika Rodriguez (Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature) won first place in the Neureuther Essay Competition. She also received the Distinguished Individual Leader Award from Wash U.

Matthias Göritz (William Gass Fellow; Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature’s track for international writers) was awarded the Fellowship at the Cultural Academy in Tarabya in summer 2018 at Istanbul by the German State Department and the Dane Zajc Residency in Ljubljana.

Aaron Coleman won The Cincinnati Review's Schiff Award for Poetry for his poem entitled “Very Many Hands.” Coleman also recently received a Philip K. Jansen Memorial Fellowship from the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA).

Ali Taheri Araghi (a graduate student in the Comparative Literature Ph.D. program’s track for international writers) won the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing by Prairie Schooner for his story “Snow,” which was published in the Fall 2016 issue.

the graduate bookshelf

Matthias Göritz's Colonies of Paradise: Poems
Die Sprache der Sonne
ConQuest
Jane Eyre in German Lands: The Import of Romance, 1848-1918
Klinge
Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color
Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology
After Translation
German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation
Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815
Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel
Abandoned Havana
Distant Readings: Topologies of German Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century
Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna
Publishing Culture and the
St. Trigger
Poems from Buddha's Footprint
The Last Lover
Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories from the New Cuba
Uğultular
Threat Come Close
Mazohistka

Matthias Göritz's Colonies of Paradise: Poems

The first book of poetry by Matthias Göritz to be available in English, in a translation by a renowned writer.

Very few books of poetry by contemporary German writers are available to English-speaking readers. In “Colonies of Paradise,” acclaimed poet and translator Mary Jo Bang introduces the poems of novelist, poet and translator Matthias Göritz, one of the most exciting German writers publishing today. The poems in this book, which originally appeared in German under the title “Loops,” take the reader on a tour of Paris, Chicago, Hamburg and Moscow as they explore childhood, travel and the human experience. Unsettling our expectations about adulthood, the book permeates the quotidian with a disquieting strangeness that leads us deeper into our own lives and histories. Göritz’s sly humor, keen insight, and artistry are brought to the fore in Bang’s careful and innovative translation, allowing an English-language audience to enter fully the intricate interiority of Göritz’s work. 

 

See alsoTranslation as duet

 

Matthias Göritz is a poet, translator, and novelist. He has written four poetry collections, “Loops,” “Pools,” “Tools” and “Spools”; three novels, including “Der kurze Traum des Jakob Voss (The Brief Dream of Jakob Voss)” and “Parker”; and three novellas. He has received the Hamburg Literature Prize, the Mara Cassens Prize, the Robert Gernhardt Prize, and the William Gass Award. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poetry—including “Elegy: Poems,” which received the National Book Critics Circle Award—and the translator of Dante’s “Inferno,” illustrated by Henrik Drescher, and “Purgatorio.” She has received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.

“There are no neat stories and anecdotes here: the flashes of perception, of understanding, are given to us via stark metaphors, images, unpredictable syntax, musical structures that are by turns surprising and illuminating . . . This is the kind of art that is never willing to rest, always in motion. Matthias Göritz is an original, talented contemporary German poet, and translator Mary Jo Bang is one of the most interesting poets currently at work in the English language. Bravo.” —Ilya Kaminsky, author of “Deaf Republic: Poems”

“Matthias Göritz’s ‘Colonies of Paradise’ is unlike any book of American poetry I can recall reading. It’s a close-up, high speed tour of life, passing through various world cities—none of them home, yet each haunted by the gargoyle-like figures of Mother and Father. This may be the ‘Giant Redeye Cicada’ eye view of modern human existence—what one can see when one gives up thinking one understands. The book is rendered into sharp, pithy, idiomatic English by the poet and translator Mary Jo Bang, who has recently translated Dante. With her help, Göritz asks, ‘Isn’t it time we went missing?’” —Rae Armantrout, author of “Finalists”

“Matthias Göritz is a poet of tremendous gifts and knowledge. His unique poetic voice is grounded and marked by historical and personal scars and horizons, which make his writing profound, intelligent, musical, playful, and innovative. A must for anyone with interest in contemporary European poetry.” —Aleš Šteger, author of “The Book of Things”

Die Sprache der Sonne

Die Sprache der Sonne (The language of the sun)

Young American Lee, restless and newly separated, travels to Istanbul in search of her grandmother's past. As a German Jew, Helene Bischoff escaped persecution by the Nazi regime in the 1930s. At the time, Kemal Atatürk generously offered Jews asylum in Turkey. He had his sights set primarily on intellectuals, engineers, doctors and lawyers who were supposed to help drive Turkey's radical modernization forward.

In Istanbul, this historic and exuberant megacity between Orient and Occident, Lee discovers that her grandmother's former companion and temporary lover, the journalist and agent Georg Naumann, is still alive, well over a hundred years old. What connects him to Helene and maybe even to her, Lee? In this exciting, multifaceted novel we experience the violence of history, the power of love and Istanbul as a labyrinth and salvation. Knowledgeable and sensual - the new, great novel by Matthias Göritz.   

Publication date: 1/26/2023 by C.H.Beck in German.

ConQuest

Hyper-expressionist Iranian poet Arash Allahverdi makes his full-length, English-language poetry debut in an innovative translation by Ali Araghi that uses commentary to lay bare the translation process.

CONQUEST by Arash Allahverdi, translated by Ali Araghi, is the first full-length poetry collection from one of the standout poets in the critically acclaimed anthology I AM A FACE SYMPATHIZING WITH YOUR GRIEF: SEVEN YOUNGER IRANIAN POETS (co•im•press 2015). ConQuest is unique because it functions like two books in one. In the first “book,” Conquest, readers experience Allahverdi’s hard-hitting poems of alienation, absurdity, and anger, set against the backdrop of capital city, Tehran, and revealing an intimate perspective told by a member of the generation that came of age in the shadow of the devastating Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s and marched the streets during the 2009 protests. As part of the Matrod Poetry Circle that rejected the Persian literary status quo, Allahverdi writes poems emblematic of the hyper-expressionism advocated by the group, rejecting the baroque artifices of the Iranian language poetry trends of the nineties. By turns, the second “book,” ConQuest, is a facing-page, bilingual edition of Conquest, including commentary—text exchanges between poet and translator that took place over Telegram and WhatsApp as Araghi worked through the challenges of Englishing Allahverdi’s poems. In creating ConQuest, Araghi has lifted the veil, letting readers see the process of translation in action, while also providing useful contextual information that an English-speaking audience would not know, providing a rich—and enriching—quest to undertake.

https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781947918085/conquest.aspx

Jane Eyre in German Lands: The Import of Romance, 1848-1918

Lynne Tatlock examines the transmission, diffusion, and literary survival of Jane Eyre in the German-speaking territories and the significance and effects thereof, 1848-1918. Engaging with scholarship on the romance novel, she presents an historical case study of the generative power and protean nature of Brontë's new romance narrative in German translation, adaptation, and imitation as it involved multiple agents, from writers and playwrights to readers, publishers, illustrators, reviewers, editors, adaptors, and translators.

Jane Eyre in German Lands traces the ramifications in the paths of transfer that testify to widespread creative investment in romance as new ideas of women's freedom and equality topped the horizon and sought a home, especially in the middle classes. As Tatlock outlines, the multiple German instantiations of Brontë's novel-four translations, three abridgments, three adaptations for general readers, nine adaptations for younger readers, plays, farces, and particularly the fiction of the popular German writer E. Marlitt and its many adaptations-evince a struggle over its meaning and promise. Yet precisely this multiplicity (repetition, redundancy, and proliferation) combined with the romance narrative's intrinsic appeal in the decades between the March Revolutions and women's franchise enabled the cultural diffusion, impact, and long-term survival of Jane Eyre as German reading.

Though its focus on the circulation of texts across linguistic boundaries and intertwined literary markets and reading cultures, Jane Eyre in German Lands unsettles the national paradigm of literary history and makes a case for a fuller and inclusive account of the German literary field.

Klinge

With wit and warmth, unembellished and at times brutal, Gönül Kivilcim describes the life of a street children's gang, the violence at police stations, the downside of the boom town Istanbul. Her research-based novel, first published in 2002, has been translated into English and German, and is part of the new Turkish counterculture literature.

Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color

According to Soto, three elements were considered in choosing the more than 100 poems included here: a poem’s emotionality, the risks a poet is taking, and whether the poet has been “absolutely pivotal to development of other queer of color poets.” Soto also recognizes the limitations of such an anthology, particularly in regards to the nebulous nature of defining terms of identity and ways included poets self-identify, as well as the various ways the work may be seen by other members of related communities in the U.S. and internationally. Despite these caveats, Soto succeeds in assembling an expansive, sonorous, and literarily significant volume that reveals the broad range of engagements queer poets of color have undertaken over the years. 

-Publishers Weekly 

Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology

The poems in this remarkable collection work in both tandem and contradiction to make the irrefutable sound of queer ecologies. An aching intervention into the violent logics that position queerness as the antithesis of a natural world, Queer Nature says otherwise. The poems congeal, illuminating again and again that queer is nature. Queer is the animal. Queer are the hands “moved like rivers.” Queer is the genre of the poem itself—its small and infinite ecosystem.

—Stacey Waite 

After Translation

German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation

Building on recent trends in the humanities and especially on scholarship done under the rubric of cultural transfer, this volume emphasizes the processes by which Americans took up, responded to, and transformed German cultural material for their own purposes. The fourteen essays by scholars from the US and Germany treat such topics as translation, the reading of German literature in America, the adaptation of German ideas and educational ideals, the reception and transformation of European genres of writing, and the status of the "German" and the "European" in celebrations of American culture and criticisms of American racism. The volume contributes to the ongoing re-conception of American culture as significantly informed by non-English-speaking European cultures. It also participates in the efforts of historians and literary scholars to re-theorize the construction of national cultures. Questions regarding hybridity, cultural agency, and strategies of acculturation have long been at the center of postcolonial studies, but as this volume demonstrates, these phenomena are not merely operative in encounters between colonizers and colonized: they are also fundamental to the early American reception and appropriation of German cultural materials. 

Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815

The consumer revolution of the eighteenth century brought new and exotic commodities to Europe from abroad—coffee, tea, spices, and new textiles to name a few. Yet one of the most widely distributed luxury commodities in the period was not new at all, and was produced locally: the book. In Necessary Luxuries, Matt Erlin considers books and the culture around books during this period, focusing specifically on Germany where literature, and the fine arts in general, were the subject of soul-searching debates over the legitimacy of luxury in the modern world.

Building on recent work done in the fields of consumption studies as well as the New Economic Criticism, Erlin combines intellectual-historical chapters (on luxury as a concept, luxury editions, and concerns about addictive reading) with contextualized close readings of novels by Campe, Wieland, Moritz, Novalis, and Goethe. As he demonstrates, artists in this period were deeply concerned with their status as luxury producers. The rhetorical strategies they developed to justify their activities evolved in dialogue with more general discussions regarding new forms of discretionary consumption. By emphasizing the fragile legitimacy of the fine arts in the period, Necessary Luxuries offers a fresh perspective on the broader trajectory of German literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, recasting the entire period in terms of a dynamic unity, rather than simply as a series of literary trends and countertrends.

Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel

Eberhard Happel, German Baroque author of an extensive body of work of fiction and nonfiction, has for many years been categorized as a “courtly-gallant” novelist. In Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel, author Gerhild Scholz Williams argues that categorizing him thus is to seriously misread him and to miss out on a fascinating perspective on this dynamic period in German history.

Happel primarily lived and worked in the vigorous port city of Hamburg, which was a “media center” in terms of the access it offered to a wide library of books in public and private collections.  Hamburg’s port status meant it buzzed with news and information, and Happel drew on this flow of data in his novels. His books deal with many topics of current interest—national identity formation, gender and sexualities, Western European encounters with neighbors to the East, confrontations with non-European and non-Western powers and cultures—and they feature multiple media, including news reports, news collections, and travel writings. As a result, Happel’s use of contemporary source material in his novels feeds our current interest in the impact of the production of knowledge on seventeenth-century narrative. Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel explores the narrative wealth and multiversity of Happel’s work, examines Happel’s novels as illustrative of seventeenth-century novel writing in Germany, and investigates the synergistic relationship in Happel’s writings between the booming print media industry and the evolution of the German novel.

Abandoned Havana

Dissident Cuban writer, photographer, and pioneering blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo presents a collection of surreal, irony-laden photos and texts from his native city. His “diary of dystopia”—an unexpected fusion of images and words—brings us closer to Havana’s scaffolded and crumbling facades, ramshackle waterfronts, and teeming human bodies. In this book, as beautiful and bleak as Havana itself, Pardo guides us through the relics and fables of an exhausted Revolution in the waning days of Castro’s Cuba.

Distant Readings: Topologies of German Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century

In nineteenth-century Germany, breakthroughs in printing technology and an increasingly literate populace led to an unprecedented print production boom that has long presented scholars with a challenge: how to read it all? This anthology seeks new answers to the scholarly quandary of the abundance of text. Responding to Franco Moretti's call for "distant reading" and modeling a range of innovative approaches to literary-historical analysis informed by the burgeoning field of digital humanities, it asks what happens when we shift our focus from the one to the many, from the work to the network.


The thirteen essays in this volume explore the evolving concept of "distant reading" and its application to the analysis of German literature and culture in the long nineteenth century. The contributors consider how new digital technologies enable both the testing of hypotheses and the discovery of patterns and trends, as well as how "distant" and traditional "close" reading can complement each another in hybrid models of analysis that maintain careful attention to detail, but also make calculation, enumeration, and empirical description critical elements of interpretation.

Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna

During the mid-nineteenth century, the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner sparked an impulse toward German cultural renewal and social change that drew on religious myth, metaphysics, and spiritualism. The only problem was that their works were deeply antisemitic and entangled with claims that Jews were incapable of creating compassionate art. By looking at the works of Jewish composers and writers who contributed to a lively and robust biblical theatre in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Caroline A. Kita, shows how they reimagined myths of the Old Testament to offer new aesthetic and ethical views of compassion. These Jewish artists, including Gustav Mahler, Siegfried Lipiner, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Stefan Zweig, and Arnold Schoenberg, reimagined biblical stories through the lens of the modern Jewish subject to plead for justice and compassion toward the Jewish community. By tracing responses to antisemitic discourses of compassion, Kita reflects on the explicitly and increasingly troubled political and social dynamics at the end of the Habsburg Empire.

Publishing Culture and the "Reading Nation": German Book History in the Long Nineteenth Century

Over the long nineteenth century, German book publishing experienced an unprecedented boom, outstripping by 1910 all other Western nations. Responding to the spread of literacy, publishers found new marketing methods and recalibrated their relationships to authors. Technical innovations made books for a range of budgets possible. Yearbooks, encyclopedias, and boxed sets also multiplied. A renewed interest in connoisseurship meant that books signified taste and affiliation. While reading could be a group activity, the splintering of the publishing industry into niche markets made it seem an ever-more private and individualistic affair, promising variously self-help, information, Bildung, moral edification, and titillation. The essays in this volume examine what Robert Darnton has termed the "communications circuit": the life-cycle of the book as a convergence of complex cultural, social, and economic phenomena. In examining facets of the lives of select books from the late 1780s to the early 1930s that Germans actually read, the essays present a complex and nuanced picture of writing, publishing, and reading in the shadow of nation building and class formation, and suggest how the analysis of texts and the study of books can inform one another.

St. Trigger

Aaron Coleman's St. Trigger, winner of the 2015 Button Poetry Prize, investigates race and gender in contemporary America through a constantly shifting series of structures, forming its own boundaries in one poem only to break and reshape them in the next. Narrative shatters into pure lyric and reforms in an instant. Coleman's poems define themselves -- sharp and blazing and wholly new.

Poems from Buddha's Footprint

The first complete full-length translation of the renowned Thai poet Sunthorn Phu’s work to appear in thirty years. Translated by Thai Kaewkaen, a graduate student in Comparative Literature’s track for international writers, Buddha's Footprint was published by Singing Bone Press in 2016. 

The Last Lover

Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, a graduate student in the Comparative Literature Ph.D. program, translated this extraordinary book by Chinese author Can Xue. The translation was the winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award for fiction presented by Three Percent, a resource for international literature.
In Can Xue’s book, we encounter a full assemblage of husbands, wives, and lovers. Entwined in complicated, often tortuous relationships, these characters step into each other’s fantasies, carrying on conversations that are “forever guessing games.” Their journeys reveal the deepest realms of human desire, figured in Can Xue’s vision of snakes and wasps, crows, cats, mice, earthquakes, and landslides. In dive bars and twisted city streets, on deserts and snowcapped mountains, the author creates an extreme world where every character “is driving death away with a singular performance.”

The translation was published by Yale University Press in February 2014.
 

Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories from the New Cuba

Rock 'n' roll, zombies, drugs, anomie and angst: these are generally not the first things that come to mind when Americans imagine Cuba. In Cuba in Splinters, a sparkling package of stories we're assured are fictional, however, that's exactly what you'll find. Eleven writers who are largely unknown outside Cuba depict a world that veers from a hyperreal Havana in decay against a backdrop of oblivious drug-toting German tourists, to a fantasy land where vigilant Cubans bar the door to zombies masquerading as health inspectors. Sex and knife-fights, stutterers and addicts, losers and lost literary classics welcome readers to a raw and genuine island universe that is generally closed to casual visitors.

Cuba in Splinters was compiled by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, a graduate student in Comparative Literature’s track for international writers, and published by OR Books in 2014.

Uğultular

Gönül Kivilcim (graduate student in Comparative Literature’s track for international writers) has published a new novel entitled Uğultular.  Uğultular was published in July 2017 by Iletisim.

Threat Come Close

In his debut collection, Aaron Coleman writes an American anthem for the 21st century, a full-throated lyric composed of pain, faith, lust and vulnerability. Coleman’s poems comment on and interrogate the meaning of home and identity for a black man in America, past and present. Guided by a belief system comprising an eclectic array of invented saints — Trigger, Seduction, Doubt and Who — Coleman’s quest locates new ways of being in the natural world where “[t]he trees teach me how to break and keep on living.”

Mazohistka

Designed as a historical novel, this pseudo-autobiography forges an intimate portrait of a young, tenacious woman who, in uncertain times of intricate political, social and cultural turbulences at the end of the 19th century, chose an uncertain path – the only path that could lead her to freedom. Mazohistka, or The Masochist, returns post-postmodernism to modernism and more than that it is a story of the Austro-Hungarian fin-de-siècle, contemplating the limits of female desire and freedom against the backdrop of ethnic, class and gender tensions of an empire yet unaware of its decline.

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