№ 33/2009 from Feb 20, 2009
The visiting endowed chair initiated by the German Translator Fund e.V. and Freie Universität Berlin during the winter semester 2007/08 is the first professorship in the poetics of translation to be established in the German-speaking countries. It is hosted annually during the winter semester at Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature. Stefan Weidner is the third translator to be awarded this position. His predecessors were Frank Günther (WS 2007/08) and Burkhart Kroeber (WS 2008/09).
Stefan Weidner, born in 1967, is a translator, writer, journalist, critic, and one of the most important mediators of Arab culture in Germany. He studied Islamic Studies, German language and literature, and philosophy in Göttingen, Damascus, Berkeley, and Bonn, concluding his degree with a thesis on the Lebanese poet Adonis. Weidner published a German translation of Adonis's lyrical poetry in 2004 (Adonis: Ein Grab für New York. Gedichte 1965-1971. Ammann Verlag). In 2007 Weidner was awarded the Johann Heinrich Voß Prize by the German Academy of Language and Poetry for his translations of authors such as Mahmoud Darwish, Fuad Rifka, Taha Muhammad Ali, and Mohammed Bennis. He is currently working on a new German translation of the Qur’an, as a bridge between modern poetry and the founding text of its cultural and religious background. His literary essays (e.g., Mohammedanische Versuchungen, Ammann Verlag 2004; Fes. Sieben Umkreisungen, Ammann Verlag 2006) are approaches to the world of Islam. He is also an editor of the cultural magazine Fikrun wa Fann /Art & Thought published by the Goethe Institute.
Stefan Weidner will be holding a seminar for university students as well as an inaugural lecture that will be open to the public. Details will be announced well in advance.
"Poetics of Translation" – the ambitious title of this chair is self-explanatory. Its objective is not to offer practice exercises in translation skills for literary scholars, but rather the critical reflection of methods of translation used by oneself and others, as well as comparative text analysis (original and translation, translation variants). In addition, this visiting endowed chair is intended to become well known for the reflection of historical methods and theories of literary translation. Naming it after August Wilhelm von Schlegel symbolizes such an expectation. In his own work Schlegel combined philological research, poetry writing, and literary translations.
The German Translator Fund e.V. and Peter Szondi Institute view the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship as a significant step toward the appreciation of literary translation as an independent artistic achievement. When, in the future, every winter semester an experienced literary translator takes on the challenge of discussing the aesthetic, historical, and methodological issues involved in translating with students of literature, one of the challenges will be to counteract the still widely held view that literary translation is a secondary "craft."
The establishment of this visiting professorship was made possible by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media. As of 2009, the chair is being funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
Jürgen Jakob Becker
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 81 69 96 25
Prof. Dr. Georg Witte
Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-56123