Jump to contentJump to search

PhD Projects

Carina Becker completed her MA studies in Literary Translation at HHU Düsseldorf in 2019. She is currently working on a PhD project that looks at various versions of the medieval Merlin narrative. While most of these versions are translations of one original text, Carina Becker's research reads them as individual works and reads them comparatively. The analysis of the texts focuses on the level of discourse (Todorov) and explores in how far differentiations on that level are compatible with variations on the level of histoire. It investigates if and how the frequently systematic differences between the versions can be understood as translational decisions. The project is supervised by Miriam Edlich-Muth (HHU) and Ricarda Bauschke-Hartung (HHU).

During the last decades scholars working on world literature have mainly concentrated on aspects beyond the text, foremost on the analysis of world literary systems and the economic and cultural asymmetries that determine the production, marketing and the modes of circulation of literary texts. The formal characteristics of Anglophone novels – i.e. the many “shapes and configurations, all ordering principles, all pattern of repetition and difference” (Levine 2015: 4) that, when systematically deployed, add up to the poetics of Anglophone world literatures - have been widely neglected (cf. Boehmer 2018).

My PhD thesis first of all aims at identifying and describing how Anglophone writers both within and outside Western frameworks have translated existing forms of the novel in accordance with their own demands, contexts and objectives and thus innovatively contributed to the development and evolution of the novel as a literary genre in general. I speak of forms “being translated” because translation as an epistemological term entails und underlines the  that form, meaning and the putative effect of a narrative text on the reader changes accordingly to the cultural and historical context of their production and reception. Furthermore, as I will elaborate on, the term “translation” allows for an appreciation of difference and the cultural equivalence of variations and adaptations and thus rules out cultural hierarchies and biases. I recur to Caroline Levine's concepts of "the affordance of forms" (Levine 2015), which draws attention to the  polyvalency of forms. Forms display a variation of  different, often latent, even contradictory characteristics at the same time which allow a variation of interpretations. I will argue that the formal inventions employed by Anglophone writers contribute to the discursive power of Anglophone world literatures. More specifically, they contribute to propagating universal, cosmopolitan values and to addressing the most urgent topics and global challenges of our time like climate change, genocide, migration and identity politics.  I will show how the formal translations in selected Anglophone novels play a role in forging an “imagined” global community and to strengthening the discursive power of literature.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies in 2003 at the University of Yaoundé I, Hypolite Kembeu began studying for a master’s degree, one year later, he was also accepted to the Higher Teachers Training College (ENS) of Yaoundé. In 2006, he completed the state examination for teaching at grammar schools and earned his master’s degree in German Studies as well. After having worked for several years as a teacher in German as a foreign language in grammar schools throughout Cameroon, Hypolite Kembeu was appointed vice headmaster for educational matters (Censeur) at Bangoulap Grammar School in 2015. In conjunction with his teaching activities, he continued his studies at the University of Yaoundé I and successfully completed a master’s thesis with a focus on literary translation in 2015. Since September 2019, he has been working as a DAAD research fellow on his dissertation in the field of literary translation at HHU’s Institute for Romance Studies. His work is supervised by PD Dr. Vera Elisabeth Gerling and Prof. Dr. Alexander Nebrig. 

Dissertation Topic:  

The influence of socio-historical and -political factors on the translation of Black African post-colonial literature into German. 

In the present age of international networking, intercultural communication and world literature, more and more Black African literary works are being translated into European languages such as German. From a post-colonial and sociological approach to literature, the doctoral projects sets out to investigate the socio-historical and socio-political reception backdrop of Black African post-colonial literature in Germany, as well as to understand translation as a socially-related activity and, against this background, to examine the textual-aesthetic realizations of the translations in a contextualized manner. Such an approach is missing in prior work on the issue of the reception of Black African literature in German, which has so far predominantly been dealt with in terms of the sociology of literature. This dissertation is based on the translations - in some cases new translations - of the works of Ferdinand Oyono, Ahmadou Kourouma, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Chinua Achebe. 

Helena Küster’s research is about German translations of multilingual literature from different anglophone cultures. In her Ph.D. project, she analyses recent translations of novels regarding the challenges of literary multilingualism as well as the predominant concepts of language and culture in the target context which affect the translators’ choices. 

Christina Slopek is a doctoral student and lecturer in the section Anglistik V – Anglophone Literatures / Literary Translation. Her dissertation engages with configurations of psychology in Anglophone African literatures. In this context, she frequently ponders the (un)translatability of culture-specific knowledge. Beyond her doctoral thesis, Christina Slopek is highly interested in postcolonial studies in general, gender and queer studies, translation studies and ecocriticism. She also teaches classes and does research on these topics. So far, Christina Slopek has published in Anglia and Gender Forum.

Tasun Tidorchibe’s research explores the form-content correlation in Formalism from an Afrocentric perspective by employing (a) the explorative technique of foreignized translation (Venuti) and (b) a culturally-sensitive New Formalist criticism of folktales of the Konkomba people of northern Ghana. It addresses the applicability of Western concepts of form (and formalist approaches generally) in predominantly orally-based contexts like those from which these Konkomba folktales have emerged. The research explores what aspects are lost in the process of theory transportation, and how Western formalist concepts might be translated, transposed, and complemented in order to account for the orality and specificities of orally-based literatures such as Konkomba folktales. Tasun Tidorchibe holds a KAAD scholarship. 

A highly important secondary aim of the PhD is to make as many stories from the corpus available to a scholarly and general readership in a digitally readable format. Ways of achieving this have been explored in a seminar project funded by the eLFF. Please visit the project "Demarginalising Orature" on the site Translating Minor Forms for more information.

Anja van de Pol-Tegge studied Applied Linguistics and Translation at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). In 2017, she began her doctoral studies in Literary Studies, which is supervised by Prof. Dr. Arvi Sepp (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and PD Dr. Vera Elisabeth Gerling (Heinrich Heine Universität), using the Cotutelle procedure.  





Dissertation Topic: 

Belgian Literature in German Translation – Multilingualism and Cultural Transfer (1945 – Present) 

The study aims to examine the dynamics of cultural transfer between Belgium and Germany based on literary translations from Post-WWII to the present day. In particular, the classification of multilingual Belgium as a cultural area plays an important role. Thus far, research has primarily dealt with either the reception of French or Dutch literature in the German-speaking area. A target and comprehensive study of the reception of literary works from Belgium has therefore been lacking. In the dissertation, Belgian literatures are delimited as separate variants of the French or Dutch language. In an ideal-typical design, the selection and appropriation process with regard to Belgian literatures is analyzed in German translation. 

Anja van de Pol-Tegge's Monograph has been published!

Anja van de Pol-Tegge's monograph, Belgische Literaturen in deutscher Übersetzung: Kulturelle und historische Verflechtungen von 1945 bis zur Gegenwart, has been published. Find more information (in German) here.

Responsible for the content: