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Speakers and Abstracts

Biography

Prof. Dr. Shola (Olorunshola) Adenekan is Associate Professor of African Literature at the Faculty of Art & Philosophy at Ghent University. He is the author of African Literature in the Digital Age: Class and Sexual Politics in New Writing from Nigeria and Kenya (2021), published by Boydell & Brewer, in which he explores the relationship between African literature and digital humanities. He was Assistant Professor of Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and held a diaspora fellowship at the English Department at the University of Ghana, funded by Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria). He obtained his PhD in African Studies from the University of Birmingham, UK (2012), and has worked at the University of Leeds (UK), the University of Bayreuth (Germany) and the University of Bremen (Germany). Furthermore, he is on the editorial board of the US-based peer-reviewed journal Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, where he serves as the principal expert on African queer writing and culture.

Prof. Dr. Adenekan is currently working on his second book on the Network of Yoruba Print Culture, which is based on his current research project "YorubaPrint" – a Starting Grant project funded by the European Research Council.

Lecture & Workshop: Theorising Queer Africa: From Colonial Modernity to Digital Modernity

Abstract:

With Queer African studies gaining attention in academia, my session discusses how heterosexual scholars should theorise Queer Africa. It shows that one cannot robustly study Queer Africa without thinking with and alongside queer African activists and feminist theorists. I show how such endeavour can be used to theorise what Stuart Hall (2020) terms “the historical conjuncture” and the history of the present, one in which African sexual history has been erased, and in its place, a Euro-modern notion of African sexuality is now deemed as African sexual history. Drawing on a wide range of examples that include Yoruba theology, online writing, modern African literature, and art, my paper reveals what new insights scholars can gain from a closer engagement with people whose daily experiences are shaped by the enduring legacies of colonial modernity.

Keywords: Queer Africa; Homophobia in Africa; African Sexual History; African Queer Theory; Digital Africa; African Feminist Theory

 

Lecture: Born Digital: Translating African Realities into Digital Speculative Fiction.

Abstract

In our lecture/workshop, we will introduce the online magazine Omenana, whose aim it is to "promote and celebrate the diversity and richness of African speculative fiction and poetry, and to provide a platform for writers to share their stories and ideas with a global audience." We argue that the digital platform is the ideal medium for this purpose and would like to analyse how the medium informs the form of the stories (length, adaptation to smartphone format, illustrations).
In addition, we will draw attention to Omenana's multilinguality through its inclusion of French and English short stories.
As a practical exercise, we will translate a select short story into German.

You can find further info on Dr. Bettina Burger & Nii Nai Adjei-Mensah M.A. on the university website.

Biography

Beth Driscoll is Associate Professor of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, where she is also Associate Dean Education and Students in the Faculty of Arts. Her books include The New Literary Middlebrow: Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-first Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction and Twenty-First Century Book Culture (with Kim Wilkins and Lisa Fletcher, UMass Press, 2022) and What Readers Do: Aesthetic and Moral Practices of a Post-Digital Age (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). With Claire Squires, she has published two books on the publishing industry: The Frankfurt Book Fair and Bestseller Business (CUP, 2020) and The Frankfurt Kabuff Critical Edition (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2023).

Online Lecture: Crisscrossing Practices of Contemporary Fiction Readers: Online, Print, and In Person

Abstract

Fiction reading is a cultural practice often imaginatively associated with quiet retreat from a busy world: curling up peacefully with a good book. Yet the practices of contemporary fiction readers are diverse, as readers move between offline and online environments and between private and social moments. Through these crisscrossing practices, readers translate their bookish experiences for different audiences and media and are integrated into varied commercial arrangements. This is what it means to inhabit a post-digital environment; for each individual reader, print, in-person and digital practices interact in multiple, occasionally surprising, ways. In this lecture, I will closely examine some of the online forums where readers are vibrantly present (and economically influential), including TikTok, Goodreads and Instagram. On the video social media platform TikTok, the booktok hashtag has been used more than 32.5 million times. The website Goodreads, where readers can display and review books, has more than 150 million members. On Instagram, readers cluster around accounts such as Reese’s Book Club, which has over 3 million followers. Activity on these platforms shows that the effects of digital technology on books and reading have been anything but straightforward. For some readers, online fora provide new opportunities for focused discussion of reading. Others use digital technology to showcase a practice they align with nostalgia and the symbolic status of print objects. A reader may buy a beautiful edition of print book and post it on TikTok or Instagram; they may read a romance ebook then attend an event with its author; they may engage in heated debate about a book through Goodreads reviews. This lecture imaginatively follows readers into their different settings and scenes, to build a detailed picture of the translational processes of contemporary recreational reading.

Workshop

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to practice different digital research methods for understanding the online activity of fiction readers. We will explore research questions about the elements of online book talk that are distinctive to digital platforms, and those that have continuities with (and could be considered translations of) non-digital activities such as book clubs, newspaper reviews and author talks. Participants will assemble a small dataset of public reader posts from a platform of their choice and begin analysing it through computational methods (sentiment analysis, word frequency analysis) as well as close reading and thematic analysis.

 

Biography

Dr. David Orrego-Carmona is an Associate Professor in Translation at the Translation and Transcultural Studies section of SMLC and an associate research fellow at the University of the Free State (South Africa). After completing a BA in English-French-Spanish Translation at the Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia) and working as an in-house translator, he gained an MA (2011) and a PhD (2015) in Translation and Intercultural Studies from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona (Spain). Prior to joining Warwick in 2022, David was a Lecturer in Translation Studies (2017-2022) and Director of Postgraduate Studies in Translation Studies (2020-2022) at Aston University. He was also a post-doctoral research fellow (2016) at the University of the Free State (South Africa) and a visiting lecturer at the University of Warsaw (April-July 2022). David is the treasurer of the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation, associate editor of the journal Translation Spaces and deputy editor of JoSTrans, the Journal of Specialised Translation.

David’s research deals primarily with translation, technologies, and users. It analyses how translation technologies empower professional and non-professional translators and how the democratisation of technology allows translation users to become non-professional translators. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, his work explores the societal affordances and implications of translation and technologies. Ranging from the reception of subtitled content to the implementation of machine translation, David’s research aims to provide more evidence to understand the role of translation and intercultural communication in globalised/transnational societies.

Biography

Melissa Sarikaya has been a lecturer at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen/Nürnberg since 2019 and is currently writing her dissertation on marginalised women poets of the late Victorian / early Modernist era. Her research interests are poetry, gender studies, media studies and the publishing industry. Her latest projects are paper contributions on Instapoetry, navigation and nautical poetry, as well as a co-edited volume on social inequality. She is also speaker of the early career researchers’ section of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender, Difference and Diversity. Melissa Sarikaya is co-founder of MADS, a network for scholars researching on modernism, aestheticism, and decadence studies.

Lecture & Workshop: Poetry Translation and Poetic Translation: Poetry in the Digital Age

Abstract

Can poetry be translated? May poetry be translated? And by whom? In this workshop, we will explore various examples of poetic translations, examining what constitutes a ‘good’ poetry translation and how translations can be deemed ‘poetic’. Additionally, we will address the purpose of poetry and the concept of mediality, particularly focusing on the impact of digitality on poetic forms. Poetry in the digital age has unique characteristics and requirements as digitality shapes both the publication and the production of poetry. Furthermore, the Barthesian notion of the ‘death of the author’ is diametrically opposed to contemporary culture’s emphasis on self-fashioning, especially since the poet and the work are intrinsically united. Establishing a brand and self-marketing are increasingly significant, especially with the advent of social media. The social platforms have become spaces where literary celebrities are valued not just because of their written word. As we navigate this evolving landscape, we must consider how traditional poetic values adapt to new mediums. The integration of digital tools offers both challenges and opportunities for modern poets. In the second part of this interactive session, we will apply the concepts discussed earlier.

Biography

Joseph Yannielli is Lecturer in Modern History at Aston University and an Eccles Institute Visiting Fellow at the British Library. Prior to joining Aston, he was a postdoctoral associate at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and Lecturer in History at Yale University. He also served as a Perkins Fellow affiliated with the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University. His main fields of interest are slavery and abolition with a special focus on America, Africa, and the wider world. He has a longstanding interest in digital scholarship and has co-created several projects involving students, academics, and community partners. His recent AHRC-funded projects include Connecting Digital Histories of Fugitive Slaves and South Africa World War One.

Lecture: Fugitive Technologies: Translating Runaway Advertisements for the Digital Age

Abstract

Newspaper advertisements for runaways were a common feature of slave regimes across the Atlantic World. As a genre, these documents are both indispensable and deeply problematic. Rich in detail and loaded with data, each advertisement provides a biographical snapshot of their subjects frozen in time and space. As historical sources, they have inspired a vast literature of edited anthologies and academic monographs, as well as paintings, songs, films, and graphic novels. With the development and dissemination of commercial newspaper databases and other digital technologies over the past two decades, it has become increasingly easy to discover, collect, and curate this material online. Where do runaway advertisements appear, and how are they used? What information do they reveal or conceal about their authors and audiences? What can they tell us about the enslaved individuals variously described as escapees, fugitives, rebels, rogues, freedom-seekers, and self-emancipators? What are the advantages and dangers of republishing these documents in digital form? Do such projects, as Jessica Marie Johnson argues, replicate “the surveilling actions of slave owners and slave traders?” Are they merely an act of empirical voyeurism, commodification, and colonization? Or can we resist the racist, misogynistic, and exploitative logic of the source material? Is it possible to construct an insurgent digital archive that respects the dignity and humanity of the enslaved? This talk will draw on my experience researching and teaching about runaway advertisements on both sides of the Atlantic. Participants will interrogate the concept of the runaway as historical subject and digital artifact. They will also have an opportunity to apply what they have learned in an interactive workshop.

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