Professor Faye Hammill kicked off the new seminar series with a talk that spanned three glossy magazines from the early 20th century: Vanity Fair, Tatler, and the Toronto-based Mayfair.
Reflecting on trends in the field of periodical studies, Hammill observed that the periodical itself tends not to be the object of knowledge. Rather, magazines and newspapers are used to illuminate other genres, or to tell us something about the periodical’s historical context.
Dr. Brecht de Groote showed how the figure of the translator can serve to reflect critically on two central characteristics of Romanticism, in particular late Romanticism: the importance of diverse forms of transfer and transmission, and the tension between aesthetic aspirations and the realities of commercial publication. He began by outlining two conflicting understandings of Romanticism: as determined by socio-political and economic structures, or, in the words of Joep Leerssen, as ‘generated by the cultural communication and dissemination of ideas’. Reception studies have analysed various Romantic-era practices and figurations of reading and writing in order to elucidate how people understood contemporary participation in aesthetic and socio-economic processes, but de Groote suggested that a specific subset, namely figurations of translation, deserves to be examined in more detail.