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Kate Briggs



This is a lecture in two parts, which together form a manifesto for translation, conceived here as a singularly productive practice of reading, writing, thinking and making. In the first part, writer and translator Kate Briggs discussed her project to retranslate Emile Zola’s ‘The Experimental Novel’, first published in French in 1880. She will talk about the terms we use to describe and make aesthetic judgements about our work –and especially about this term experimental. What does it mean to be an experimental writer? What did Zola mean by it? What do we mean by it today? Do we know? Thinking about translation as a research inquiry in the form of an extended writing exercise, she will describe her approach to the Zola essay and discuss the particular challenges and opportunities of re-translation. In the second part, she read from This Little Art, a book-in-progress about the practice of translation by way of Robinson Crusoe, Juan Cruz, Roland Barthes, Dorothy Bussy, Helen-Lowe Porter, Richard Hamilton, Paul Valéry and many others.

Kate Briggs is the translator of Roland Barthes’s The Preparation of the Novel and How to Live Together, both published by Columbia University Press, and co-translator of Michel Foucault’s Introduction to Kant’s “Anthropology”, published by MIT / Semiotexte. She has published Exercise in Pathetic Criticism and The Nabokov Paper, both with information as material (York, UK), and the chapbook On Reading as an Alternation of Flights and Perchings with No Press (Calgary, Canada). The Nabokov Paper was also a group exhibition at Shandy Hall, Coxwold, in 2013. New writing has recently appeared in Convolution, L’esprit créateur and The White Review. She teaches at the American University of Paris and is a core tutor (writing) at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam.