London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Brecht de Groote, Friday 17 May 2024, Senate House, London

The final meeting of this year’s London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will be a special international seminar on Friday 17 May 2024 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35, ground floor), Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30 pm. As our distinguished guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Prof. Dr. Brecht de Groote of the University of Ghent, who will present a paper entitled “That Which is Unseen, Shines the Brighter”: Pseudotranslation and Mediation in British Romanticism. There will then be a short response by Dr Laurent Folliot (Sorbonne University, Paris), followed by a discussion and a wine reception. The seminar will be chaired by Luisa Calè (Birkbeck, University of London).

The event is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. No booking is required.

Brecht de Groote is tenure-track Assistant Professor of English in the Faculty of Arts & Philosophy of the University of Ghent in Belgium. He previously held (post)doctoral positions at the Universities of Edinburgh and Leuven. His research focuses on the literature and culture of the Romantic period, extending into the eighteenth century and the late-Romantic 1840s and 1850s. Combining methods at the intersection of literary theory, media theory and translation theory, he investigates the ways in which British culture was shaped by practices and ideas of mediation and translation. Brecht is the author of Thomas De Quincey: Romanticism in Translation (2021) and has published articles in a range of journals. He is currently working on a new book project provisionally titled Pseudo-Romanticism, which is to examine how the Romantics imagined interlinguistic and intermedial transfers. This seminar will articulate some of the key ideas in that book project.

Regarding the topic of his paper, Brecht writes:

“Pseudotranslations—translations which lack one-on-one originals—are integral to British Romanticism. Not only were they were highly popular, highly inventive, highly varied, and oft-debated texts, they were also used to explore and complicate the underpinnings of modern literature and culture as it emerged. In this talk, I’ll examine how pseudotranslations sought to understand how changes in transnational communication and changes in the media that carried such communication; more concretely, I’ll argue that they sought to understand translation through mediation, and vice versa. Translation, that is, figured for mediation, and the other way around, and this reciprocal figuration was deployed both for historiographic as well as aesthetic purposes. I will also argue that pseudotranslations operate on a spectrum with other forms of pseudotextuality, with the pseudoletter—the seemingly familiar, actually public letter—offering a very compelling corpus when it crosses with the pseudotranslation. The seminar will work its way on a range of examples, particularly Carlyle’s ‘Cagliostro: In Two Flights,’ Hamilton’s Letters of a Hindoo Rajah, and Southey’s Letters from Spain; with supporting appearances from De Quincey, Wordsworth, and (inevitably) Macpherson.”