NOBEL LAUREATE WOLE SOYINKA, PHILOSOPHER JACQUES DERRIDA, POET BEI LING HIGHLIGHT OPENING OF INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR WRITING AND TRANSLATION
New UCI Center Hopes to Raise Awareness of World Literature, Languages and Cultures
Irvine, Calif., March 20, 2002 -- UC Irvine will celebrate the formal launch of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the School of Humanities April 4 and 5, 2002. The inaugural events will feature Nigerian playwright, poet and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Chinese poet and essayist Bei Ling, world-renown philosopher and UCI professor Jacques Derrida and his foremost translator Peggy Kamuf, a professor of French and comparative literature at University of Southern California. Both events are free, open to the public and will be held in the Humanities Instructional Building, Room 100. Receptions will follow the presentations.
The center, established in July 2001, fosters writing, translation and criticism in multilingual and international contexts. It supports writers, translators and critics from around the world through short residencies and by bringing them together for readings, performances, lectures and international conferences. It also sponsors research activities and graduate fellowships in creative nonfiction and translation. The center is a partner to the International Institute of Modern Letters in Las Vegas, Nev.
"The International Center for Writing and Translation will enable us to support great writers and new talents from around the world and to foster translations of work previously undiscovered," said Karen Lawrence, dean of the School of Humanities. "Our partnership with the Institute of Modern Letters will help us assemble writers, translators and scholars to discuss the aesthetics and politics of translation and create graduate emphases in creative nonfiction and translation. It will also build on our nationally ranked creative writing, languages and literatures, history and interdisciplinary programs."
Kicking off the inaugural activities will be "Writing: An Evening with Wole Soyinka and Bei Ling" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4. The presentation will feature Soyinka reading from his play "King Baabu," and Bei Ling speaking about the literary situation in China and his own experience with censorship. A discussion will follow moderated by Ketu Ketrak, chair, Department of Asian American Studies at UCI.
The next day at 4 p.m. Friday, April 5, Derrida will discuss translation with his foremost translator Kamuf. Ellen Burt, associate professor, Department of French and Italian at UCI, will moderate the conversation. A reception will follow at 6:30 p.m. celebrating the opening of the "Derrida/Translating/Derrida" exhibit at UCI's main library.
The center was founded through an investment from Glenn Schaeffer, UCI alumnus and president and CFO of Mandalay Bay Resorts. Schaeffer, one of Las Vegas' most successful businessmen, is also a great lover of books and contemporary writing. He pledged funding for the center at UCI with a challenge for the school to raise matching gift amounts in the coming years.
Schaeffer believes literature has a civilizing influence on society. He says ideas in books can change how people choose to live and what they're willing to live for. "This country, the greatest economic force in world history, would not exist in the same way if two books--Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' and Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'--hadn't been published and widely distributed. These books were community builders par excellence. The institute in Las Vegas and the center in Irvine will exemplify literary activism if we assist one more writer to be heard, read or proclaimed, and then another, and then another. The efficient laws of literature hold that the few can persuade the many."
RSVP for the inaugural events by contacting Barbara Thomas at (949) 824-1342, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the center go to www.hnet.uci.edu/icwt.
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