Comparative Literature & English

The American University of Paris


Literary All Around Paris

Translation by Jan Steyn (Comparative Literature and MACT alumnus) shortlisted for the Best Translated Book award

worksEdouard Levé’s experimental novel Works, brilliantly translated by AUP alumnus Jan Steyn (now completing a PhD at Cornell University) has been long-listed for the Best Translated books award.

Among the judges for this award are AUP’s Daniel Medin, and AUP Alumna Madeleine LaRue (editor, writer, and associate editor of the literary review Music and Literature). It sounds like favoritism, but it is rather evidence of the success and reach of AUP students and professors in the world of contemporary literature and translation.

Jan Steyn’s honour adds to a list of recent successes by MACT graduates, including the award won by Jesse T Lichtenstein’s translations of Guadalupe Nettel (she writes about her translations in Asymptote magazine), and the strong reviews of Emma Ramadan’s translation of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, which has just been published by Deep Vellum Press.


Young writers and translators, reading at AUP on Monday 27 April 2015

Creative Writing in the Department of Comparative Literature and English and the MA in Cultural Translation would like to invite you to a reading, in the series of Young Writers and Translators events curated by Jeffrey Greene.

Continue reading “Young writers and translators, reading at AUP on Monday 27 April 2015”

New Translation from MA in Cultural Translation alumna Emma Ramadan

Sphinx Garreta cover

Emma Ramadan, who graduated from AUP’s MA in Cultural Translation program last year, has published her translation of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx. You can read an extract, or order the book from its publisher or from the usual suspects. The translation is a formidable exploit, as it manages to bring the constraint of the novel – a love story between two characters, the gender of neither of whom is revealed in the book – into English (a language in which gender operates according to an entirely different logic) while maintaining the tone and life of the language. Continue reading “New Translation from MA in Cultural Translation alumna Emma Ramadan”

Jula Wildberger talking in Paris, 7 April 2015

On 7 April, Jula Wildberger will present a paper at the University of Chicago Paris on German Classicist Hermann Fraenkel’s empathic way of looking at the other. A volunteer first-war veteran, as a Jew he was expelled from his university position, and was forced to flee to California. At Stanford, he first completed his book on Ovid, another exile “between two worlds” (1945), and then his magnum opus, a comprehensive study of early Greek poetry and philosophy, which was published in German (!) by the American Philological Association. In this way, Fraenkel contributed to what he regarded as the true battlefield worth fighting on: the struggle of ideas and ideals.

5:20-6:00 Jula Wildberger (American University of Paris), ” ‘To understand each phenomenon as it intended itself’: Hermann Fraenkel as a Historian of Mentalities”


Dan Gunn launches the Beckett Letters volume 3 in Dublin, Friday 27 March 2015

SB coverFor alumni and friends of AUP in Dublin – an invitation to attend the launch of:

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 3, 1957-1965. Edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, Lois More Overbeck (Cambridge: CUP, 2013)

The Event will be held at the United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwillian Street Dublin 2, at 17:30, Friday 27 March 2015.

There will also be a seminar open to all on the translation of the letters at 11:00 (Room 5033, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin). This will be directed Dan Gunn and George Craig (please RSVP to the address below for both events)

 This third volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett focuses on the years when Beckett is striving to find a balance between the demands put upon him by his growing international fame, and his need for the peace and silence from which new writing might emerge. This is the period in which Beckett launches into work for radio, film and, later, into television. It also marks his return to writing fiction, with his first major piece for a decade,Comment c’est (How It Is). Where hitherto he has been reticent about the writing process, now he devotes letter after letter to describing and explaining his work in progress. For the first time Beckett has a woman as his major correspondent: a relationship shown in his intense and abundant letters to Barbara Bray. The volume also provides critical introductions, chronologies, explanatory notes and profiles of Beckett’s main correspondents.

RSVP to either Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey, French Department, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland; tel. (00 353 1) 896 2686; e-mail: by Friday 20 March; or Sarah Leahy, United Arts Club, 3, Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2; tel. (00 353 1) 661 1411; e-mail:

This event is graciously  supported and made possible by the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the School of English, The Samuel Beckett Summer School (all in Trinity College Dublin), the United Arts Club, and the French Embassy.

Brenton Hobart on la Boétie

BoetieBrenton Hobart has recently published an article for the website Cornucopia on Étienne de La Boétie’s Discourse of Voluntary Servitude: a mid-sixteenth-century text that questions how millions of unconstrained individuals, “simply enchanted and charmed by the name of one man”, could miserably and voluntarily chose to serve him—a man “whose power they need not fear, since he is alone, and whose qualities they should not love, since he is inhumane and savage toward them.”

While La Boétie’s Discourse was one of the readings for Professor Hobart’s FirstBridge course, The French: The Greatest People in the World, in fall 2014, it is also currently among the texts studied for the French literature section of France’s national competitive examination, the Agrégation.

Professor Hobart’s article is a study of the numerous uses of the various forms of the word Frank/French in La Boétie’s Discourse, which he believes recall the liberties (the franknesses), both innate and acquired, of the French people themselves.

Russell Williams writing on contemporary French writing and politics

The recent violent events in Paris overshadowed what some had predicted would be a violent and scandalous literary event, the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s new novel, Soumission, which imagines a France in the near future ruled by a Muslim president. Russell Williams is a specialist in contemporary French literature and culture – particularly noise music and Houellebecq. He has new articles in French Slate  on the way that Houellebecq is perceived in the French academy, and in the MHRA journal on Houellebecq’s relation to the idea of transgression, particularly in the visual arts. A third recent article is here. He spoke to Quietus magazine about Charlie Hebdo after the recent attack.

The new issue of Quarterly Conversation is out, and full of AUP

QC-header-logo-webDaniel Medin is one of the editors who helps put together The Quarterly Conversation, a web-journal which is a go-to source for information about and analysis of new translated fiction.

The winter issue has just been published, and it is full of work by AUP alumni.

Continue reading “The new issue of Quarterly Conversation is out, and full of AUP”

Dan Gunn looks back over the oeuvre of Marguerite Duras

Dan Gunn’s review of the whole body of work of French writer Marguerite Duras has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement.

One rich picking, on the strangely paradoxical relation to truth and belief that emerges in a life of writing:

Yet the paradoxical effect of her continued revisiting of her own life was not to create a more solid or credible picture – what, for example, she really got up to with her brothers; sibling incest is repeatedly invoked and occasionally described – but to render each successive self-portrait less reliable than the one before. “Autofiction” is a term often used to describe the more self-directed of her works; as Duras exposed herself more and more, the stress landed increasingly on the latter word in this term. And this could be unfortunate, as for example when it impinged on accounts proffered as truthful, such as the gripping tale of her attempt to rescue her husband, the Resistance member Robert Antelme, and then to bring him home, with the help of François Mitterrand, from the Mauthausen Concentration Camp (in La Douleur, 1985). One wants to believe every word, but the wanting only serves to beg the question.

Blog at

Up ↑