A Talk with Franco “Bifo” Berardi about Disillusions, Ruptures and Changes

October 4th, 2016 in Featured, News

Walking through the dark shades of Europe and the US. A talk with Franco “Bifo” Berardi about disillusions, ruptures and changes by Silvia Mazzocchin, @silvimabu.

“The European Union is a dead man walking. It’s a sort of zombie, unable to decide the most important things” are the words of Franco Berardi during the meeting “In the European night. Will the union survive?”, hosted last 27th of September at Boston University. The event was organized by the Center of the Study of Europe of Boston University, as part of EU Futures, a series of conversations aimed at discussing the present and future of the European Union.

The Italian philosopher, media activist and cultural agitator Franco Berardi, also known as “Bifo”, has lived and experienced from a committed and engaged position the development of the European Union, from the vision and the birth, to the current crisis and disillusionment. What makes him now speak from such a dark and critical standpoint about the European Union is the current radicalization and emergence of right-wing movements, together with the incapacity of the Union to handle the migration flows. While the Southern European countries have to face the arrival of refugees and migrants from Syria and African countries, in France and other Eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary the anti-European and anti-refugee positions are gaining power in the political and social sphere.

“On a pragmatic level, many things must be saved. First of all the Erasmus, the cultural exchanges and the network of solidarity. When I say that the EU is a dead man walking, I don’t refer to the administrative reality, to the day-by-day reality of the Union. I speak in political and strategical terms” tells Franco Berardi during an interview after the conference. Franco Berardi has been part of the group of intellectuals and politicians close to anti-capitalist and anti-financial positions, who although being critical of the overriding financial form that the EU has acquired, have always thought that the Union had to be saved. However, his opinion has changed in the wake of the recent events. “In the last months I started understanding that we’re selling something that is no more existing, that is an illusion. The EU will never disappear. The label will stay there, and also many economic financial exchanges will stay for the bad and for the good. The problem is that the political, the cultural and the spiritual has vanished. It cannot be restored” he says.

In his opinion a moment of deep redefinition is needed in order to save the idea and the original project of the EU. This can not happen without a clear break at the political and symbolical level. He explains however that “many day-by-day experiences and possibilities and institutions have not to disappear. These are the conditions for the launch of the project itself. […] We need a real rupture, but we need a real continuity at the same time”. During the ‘60s Franco Berardi has been one of the leading voices of the Italian autonomist and anti-authoritarian social movements. In his opinion, his generation during the social movements of the ’68 was the first to experience, even if still unaware, an European dimension. At the same time, his generation has failed to convey successfully the European project. “May ‘68 is the first moment when you see in EU a movement fighting for the same project. But we’ve been unable to think explicitly in terms of a new dimension. […] In the ‘80s and ‘90s we start becoming the leading class of Europe, especially in France and Germany. And this is a bad thing. Because we’ve forgotten the experience of the real union, and we have reinvented our place” he says.

Even if the young generation is now facing the Euro-Mediterranean backlash and has to cope with cultural and psychological difficult conditions, he sees in this generation the starting point for a change, and the potential to develop the “new subjectivity” for the future that can trigger a change. He calls it the “collective generation”, which is made of people that has experienced the world through the computer screen. Franco Berardi has always been aware of the power of communication and of the media, since his participation in ’76 to the creation Radio Alice, one of the first free radio stations in Italy. The political activity with the radio caused him an arrest for an alleged collaboration with the Red Brigades (an autonomous left-wing paramilitary organization active in Italy during the so-called “Years of Lead”). Following the active protest organized by the radio, he was released after one month but he soon moved to France because facing charges for his political activity. In his books and last works he has reflected thoroughly about the role and potential of the new media and the global connections of our world. “It’s not just a problem of rethinking the EU, but a problem of rethinking the future for the collective generation” he says.

With this perspective in mind, he clearly states that the dark that has fallen on Europe is the same that has fallen on the US, and that these two worlds have never been so close as now. “We’re facing the same abyss, that is the abyss of fascism. Fascism is the danger of violence, racism and of depression. I see a strong connection between the white male depression and the resurfacing of racist violence. In the past racism was the effect of a sort of superiority complex. Now is the contrary. White people, especially in the US, are lost. Heroin is booming in the Mid West at an incredible level. It has increased fivefold in the last 10 years, essentially among white middle age middle class” he tells. His concern about the situation of US does not have only to do with the current political positions brought by the candidate Donald Trump. “I don’t know if Trump will win or not. I hope not! But anyway what Trump represents is here. It will not be canceled, the problem is here because is the problem of the white male depression” says Franco Berardi.

Referring to the role of US, he points out the central position of what he calls the “Global Silicon Valley”. With this term he does not refer to the factories, infrastructures and technologies, but to the millions of young people working inside the machine, that are connected throughout the world and that could be the subjectivity of the future. When asked about the future of US, he says that “US is the physical center of a process that is deployed worldwide. Here the distance between the new possible connecting subjectivity and the reality of racism is more evident”. He goes on explaining that probably the US is the place where the new vision will rise. “I believe in the future of North America, although I see it is in a deep danger. I believe because the multicultural reality is an irreversible fact, here much more than in Europe. You cannot say here that you can make a wall. It’s not a problem of a physical barrier! America doesn’t exist without the multiplicity of cultural forms. It’s going to be -and it’s already- a situation of civil war, but it’s going to oblige people to invite a new dimension of multiculturality, coexistence and reinvention. It’s not a problem of resistance. It’s a problem of forgetting identity. What is the way for a non-identitarian self-perception?” he wonders.

During the conference, he claims that is necessary to reactivate our realistic brain, and to connect it to the imagination of the possible. Despite he says that there is the possibility to imagine something realistic, and that he does not like to believe in utopias, at the end of his talk he has to field the questions coming from the audience asking which practical solutions he could propose. During his talk he had expressed clearly the problem of overproduction that concerns the entire word. Related to this, one of the practical solutions for starting a change is the introduction of basic income. In our world where production could mainly carried out just by machines and robots, he claims that there is finally the opportunity to reduce working time and cut the production, because we have already too much. Nevertheless, even if we do not need to work anymore, we look at this as a dark perspective. For this reason the process towards the basic income should be the focal point, together with the reactivation of social links, re-giving birth to what he calls “the erotic social meetings of people on the streets”. In this process the “cognitive class”, the intellectuals, play also an important role for a rupture with the current dark present. “We need a social movement, millions of people walking in the streets and reactivating their ability to vitalize the city and revitalize their social relations, and at the same time bring this social energy inside the online dimension” he explains.

Even if it could seem just visionary, the vision of Franco Berardi could at the same time be translated in a very clear and detailed project. “The next movement should be about basic income. […] What is salary? We have to question the modern superstition that says if you want to eat you have to work eight hours at my conditions. I understand for a period of human history have been necessary. We cannot think anymore in terms of salary, but in terms of right to life. Because it’s possible, not just right! And where you find the money? You print the money! The problem is steel, corn, oil, the physical and semiotic goods that we need and already have. What is blocked is our possibility to access these goods, because small class of criminals is forbidding the majority of the human kind to have what they deserve, because this is the only the way in which they can increase their profit”. The general process of change, rebirth and rupture with the past would not be probably an easy and harmless one. In order to change the current trends he explains that also re-appropriation could be necessary. “We go to the supermarket and we take what we need! Organizing a huge movement of re-appropriation would mean violence probably, but violence will be the common ground of understanding in the next ten years. The next step, a peaceful or non-peaceful way has to be with the creation of a movement for social reappropiation. More than on violence, it’s based on solidarity. The real point is not to be strong, the problem is to be together, with many people, to gain the majority of society at this level” he says. “Those workers who are shifting towards racism position, they are not fascist in their heart. The majority of them are simply people who need basic income. The problem is not rejecting two millions of Africans and Syrians. What is two millions people in a continent of half billion people? Nothing! If you organize that process, with no fear. The problem is not there. It’s basic income”.

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The Crime and the Silence with Anna Bikont and Irena Grudzinska Gross (10/29/15)

October 7th, 2015 in Event Announcements, Featured

Join us for a conversation with Polish-Jewish journalist Anna Bikont, author of The Crime and the Silence (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2015), translator Alissa Valles, PhD student at the Editorial Institute, and Irena Grudzinska Gross, Resident Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University.

The Crime and the Silence is an important work – part history, part memoir – about the debate in Poland about the Jedwabne massacre in 1941 and about the author’s own struggle to raise her children as Jews in Poland in the last few decades. It is a terrifying but beautiful work, with social, political and cultural implications far beyond Poland. It was awarded the Prix du livre européen in 2011.

Free and open to the public. Reception and book-signing to follow.
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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Moving Towards Transatlantic Economic Integration (10/08/15)

August 25th, 2015 in Event Announcements, Featured

Boston, MA (August 25, 2015) – The Consulate of Portugal in Boston, the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, and Boston University are glad to announce an event on “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Moving towards Transatlantic Economic Integration,” held on October 8, 2015 at the Boston University Castle. The event will last from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and includes live presentations, a general discussion, and a networking reception.

The event will be opened by the Portuguese Consul General in Boston, José Caroço, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University, Prof. Vivien Schmidt. David O’Sullivan, European Union Ambassador to the United States, will give a keynote speech on TTIP negotiations and the context in which they take place, based on his direct involvement in these talks. Two sessions will follow centering on topics related to transatlantic trade and economic collaboration.

The first session, “Geopolitical and Broader Context of TTIP,” will feature presentations from Dr. Tereza Novotna, a FNRS post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for European Studies at the Université libre de Bruxelles, and Prof. Roberto Dominguez of Suffolk University. Dr. Novotna will speak on “EU Institutions, Member States and TTIP Negotiations: The Balance of Power.” Prof. Dominguez will present a talk titled, “Implications of TTIP for the Wider World: Views from Latin America.”

The second session focuses on “Trade Implications, Sectors and Issues.” Woodrow Wilson Fellow and American University Professor Michelle Egan will begin with an outline of “Reframing Regulatory Cooperation under TTIP.” Next, Prof. Fernanda Nicola, of American University’s Washington College of Law, will examine “Transformative ISDS: The Constitutional Dimension of Investor-State Arbitration in TTIP.” Finally, Prof. Kaija Schilde, from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, will review “Possibilities For and Challenges to Defense Markets Opening Up as a Part of TTIP.”

The event will conclude with a discussion by Prof. Daniela Caruso, of the Boston University School of Law, and a Q&A session moderated by Prof. Schmidt. Participants are invited to stay afterward for a networking reception.

Please contact Izabella Zandburg for more information about this event.

RSVP: RSVP@rsi-research.com or http://evite.me/HPd3qhCEHh

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Remembering the Great War – A Centenary Symposium & Concert (12/11/14)

October 9th, 2014 in Event Announcements, Featured

The Center for the Study of Europe and the International History Institute at Boston University present:

Remembering the Great War (1914-1918)
Boston University Castle • 225 Bay State Road

1 to 1:15 | Introduction

1:15 to 2:45 | Panel I – WAR AND DIPLOMACY

  • Erik Goldstein – Professor of History and International Relations | “The Middle East: Roots of Current Crises”
  • Bill Keylor – Professor of History and International Relations | “Why Did it Last So Long?: Failed Efforts to Stop the Killing”
  •  Cathal Nolan – Associate Professor of History; Executive Director, International History Institute | “Military Myths of the Great War”

2:45 to 3 | Coffee Break

3 to 4:30 | Panel II – REMEMBRANCE

  • Margaret Higonnet – Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Connecticut | “Poetry of Dissent and Disillusionment”
  • James Schmidt – Professor of History, Philosophy, and Political Science | “The Christmas Truce as History and Memory”
  • Meghan Tinsley – PhD Candidate, Sociology | “Loyal Subjects and Potential Enemies: Muslims in the British First World War Centenary”

4:30 to 4:45 | Tea + Sandwiches

4:45 to 6:15 | Panel III – THE ARTS   

  • James  Johnson – Professor of History | “Music, Modernism, and the War”
  • Christopher Ricks – William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities; Co-Director, Editorial Institute | “Hell”
  • Patricia Hills – Professor Emerita, History of Art & Architecture | “The War Murals of John Singer Sargent”

6:15 to 7 | Pre-Concert Break

7 to 8 | “Music of War” Concert by Vocal Chamber Music Ensemble “Gamut”

Gamut is a collection of four accomplished young classical singers dedicated to performing chamber music at the highest level and presenting it in accessible, innovative ways. As one of few groups worldwide championing all periods of vocal chamber music, they aim to inspire new audiences and reinvigorate longtime classical fans through this under-performed medium.

Featuring bass-baritone Dashon Burton, mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo, and pianist Jessica Rucinski on repertoire by Stravinsky, Faure, Gurney and more.

8:00 to 8:30 | Holiday Reception

The Symposium is free + open to the public. Concert + reception seating is limited; please register here if you plan to attend:

Music of War Concert + Holiday Reception

I am planning to attend the Music of War concert and holiday reception featuring the vocal chamber music ensemble Gamut on Thursday, December 11 at 7 PM.

Photo by Umberto Nicoletti – Sacello Ossario del Pasubio (Pasubio Ossuary)

The Mother – A Cantata for Ferguson (11/19/14)

October 9th, 2014 in Event Announcements, Featured

The Mother: A Cantata for Ferguson

Based on Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler’s “The Mother”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 8 PM

Marsh Chapel at Boston University

“They believe it will soon be over if they weaken the weakest.
But one day soon, change will come.”

What does political opera mean to us today? Do works of the historical avant-garde still resonate? The Mother: A Cantata for Ferguson interweaves Brecht/Eisler’s revolutionary cantata with new texts written by Boston University undergraduates about the shooting of Michael Brown and protests in Ferguson, MO.

Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler wrote “The Mother” at a moment of extreme political upheaval. The Nazi Party was gaining power in Germany, and Brecht and Eisler would soon have to flee. The Mother shows their hope for radical changes in society, changes that opera and theatre might help bring about. With this performance, we ask: what does this sort of political theatre mean to us today? Is it outdated, a museum piece? Or can it speak to contemporary issues of social justice?

The event will begin with a performance (c. 45 minutes) that interweaves Brecht/Eisler’s cantata “The Mother” with documentary material about the life and death of Michael Brown and subsequent events in Ferguson. Following the performance, a roundtable panel will discuss the political power of performance and how we might look back to Brecht and Eisler’s works today.

Project Director: Minou Arjomand Assistant Professor of English, Boston University

Choral Conductor: Ekaterina Anoshkin PhD Candidate, College of Fine Arts, Boston University

Musical Director: Raphael Fusco Composer, collaborative keyboardist, and conductor

Featuring: Veronica Williams as the Mother and Thaddeus Bell as the Son

Panelists:

  • William Banfield Professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society, director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs, Berklee College of Music and BU STH alum. An award winning composer, jazz guitarist/recording artist, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press.
  • Raphael Fusco Musical director of “The Mother in Ferguson,” Fusco is a composer, collaborative keyboardist and conductor. His work has been commissioned by members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the String Quartet of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and numerous others. This fall, Fusco will join saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in a national tour.
  • Pamela Lightsey Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning at BU’s School of Theology. She is a scholar, social justice activist, and military veteran whose academic and research interests include: classical and contemporary just war theory, Womanist theology, Queer theory and theology, and African American religious history and theologies. Her live streamed videos from the Ferguson protests can be watched here.
  • Martin Puchner Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

Sponsors: BU Center for the Humanities, Arts Grant from the BU Arts Initiative – Office of the Provost, African American Studies, Center for the Study of Europe, Jewish Cultural Endowment, School of Theology, Department of English, and Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures.

Mother

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Call to Fellows: Balkan Summer School on Religion and Public Life The Paissiy Hilendarski University of Plovdiv (07/26/15 – 08/08/15)

October 1st, 2014 in Featured, Opportunities

Balkan-770x292
The 2015 Balkan Summer School on Religion and Public Life (BSSRPL) will be devoted to the theme Conversion and the Boundaries of Community. As with previous schools, it proceeds from the idea that religion and other forms of collective belonging are central for the life of both individuals and society, and that our religious communities are often those to which we devote our greatest loyalties. In our diverse but increasingly interconnected world, we need to find ways to live together in a world populated by people with very different political ideas, moral beliefs and communal loyalties.

The goal of the Summer School is to provide a laboratory for the practical pedagogy of tolerance and living with difference in a global society. Its focus is on religion as providing the fundamental terms of moral community and its aim is to produce new practices and understandings for living together in a world populated by “differences”.

The Balkan Summer School takes up this very real challenge and tries to critically define differences, especially communal and religious differences between people as the starting point of a publicly shared life. Its basic aim is to help participants realize their prejudices and question their taken-for-granted assumptions of the other through the construction of a safe social space of exploration and interaction that includes an innovative mixture of academic teaching, experiential field experience (practicums) and affective engagement with the challenges of “living together differently”.

For centuries, the Balkans have been characterized by a diverse and complex mixture of religions, nations and ethnicities; of orthodoxies and heterodoxies, normative and subaltern beliefs, practices and ways of life. Within this mix, the issue of conversion has often been the touchstone of social tensions, violence and division – within and between ethnic groups, communities, and even families. The narratives of “forced conversion” have played a strong role in defining the identities of post-Ottoman nation-states in the Balkans. Contemporary conversions (to the so-called New Religious Movements, to and from Islam and Orthodoxy) as well as the phenomenon (in the Balkans and elsewhere) of the “Sunnification” of Islam all make conversion as contested a move today as in the past.

Our 2015 summer school will explore the issue of conversion, (both religious and non-religious), in the Balkans and elsewhere. We will explore conversion in its legal, social, and religious aspects, as well as its place within families, as an aspect of gender identity and as a form of accommodating the power differentials in a given society. Inquiry into different forms of conversion as lived practice in the area of the Rhodope Mountains and the Thracian plain around the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv will serve as the sharp lens of our inquiry. Ultimately, however we shall be focusing on the experience of our own boundaries, preconceptions, lived practices, prejudices and preconceptions – to better appreciate how to live with difference rather than deny, trivialize or abrogate it.

Drawing on over twelve years experience of CEDAR-Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion the BSSRPL seeks to bring together fellows from different walks of life and different religious and confessional communities, (as well as those who define themselves as members of no such communities and have no religious identities) to explore these themes together, in conditions of mutual respect and recognition. We look forward to an enriching mix of post-graduate students, professors, NGO leaders, journalists, religious leaders, policy analysts, and teachers from the area of the Balkans, Europe and beyond to join us for the two weeks of the school.

The BSSRPL combines more traditional academic lectures with field-work, practical, experiential learning and more affectively orientated forms of group learning in a innovative approach to learning that goes far beyond the purely cognitive.

The successful candidates will be expected to fund their own transportation to Sofia, Bulgaria. The BSSRPL maintains a needs-based tuition policy and bursaries are available.

Application forms can be downloaded and further information attained here.

Please join us this summer in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Vivien Schmidt Awarded EU Research Fellowship

July 17th, 2014 in Featured, News

Center Director Vivien Schmidt was recently awarded a research fellowship by the European Commission, Directorate General of Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN). The award involves producing a paper entitled “The Political Economy of the European Monetary Union: Rebuilding Trust and Support for Economic Integration.”

In addition to writing a long research paper for publication in DG ECFIN’s paper series, Schmidt will participate in three workshops over the course of a year (June 2014-June 2015), plus be available for 30 hours of consultations. The fellowship program was established in view of the seating of the newly European Parliament and the newly appointed Commission President and Commissioner head of DG ECFIN.  The role of the fellows is advise the new Commissioner on current and future policy. For her part, Schmidt will be considering not just how to rebuild trust and support for economic integration but the problems with the current policies that make rebuilding trust very difficult.

In her research, Schmidt will be examining not just problems with the economic policy performance (often termed output legitimacy in EU studies ) and the increasingly volatile politics resulting from citizens’ view of the EU as unresponsive to their concerns (input legitimacy) but also the quality of the governance processes (which she terms ‘throughput’ legitimacy).  She will be interviewing EU officials to get a fuller sense of  the political dynamics of crisis resolution, as EU institutional actors have sought to get beyond the rigidities of the initial crisis response to economic governance that established a set of numbers-targeting rules focused on austerity and structural reform that have not worked. Finally, she will be considering how EU officials in different EU institutions may go about informally reinterpreting such rules as well as how they legitimate any such reinterpretations.

Metropolis: Cities of Europe

July 8th, 2014 in Featured, Opportunities

556529_367076320032990_424475797_nToday our friends at the European Commission Delegation in Washington DC launched a new EU geography game called Metropolis: Cities of Europe. The game was developed by the delegation as a fun and interactive tool for raising U.S. awareness about European history, geography, and culture. Each player has to answer 14 questions and each correct answer is a city in one of the EU’s 28 Member States. Once players think they know the answer, they can click on the location of that city on the interactive map. Players will be scored on two criteria: first, how fast they respond, and second, how close they are geographically to the right city. People may play the game as often as they like. The person to achieve the highest score between July 8, 2014 and August 15, 2014 will win a voucher for two round-trip tickets to Brussels, Belgium. Only U.S. residents who are 18 years old and above are eligible to win the award, but the game is open to anyone who would like to play.

The link to the game is the following: http://www.euintheus.org/geography-game/

Please join the game and help us to promote it on Facebook and Twitter! The European Commission Delegation are tweeting via the @EUintheUS using the hashtag #EUontheMap.

Event Highlights: European Voices in Translation Festival

July 1st, 2014 in Event Highlights, Featured

European Voices in Translation: László Krasznahorkai and George Szirtes (with James Wood)

On May 10, 2014, we hosted our first ever European Voices Festival with a focus on European Voices in translation. Funded by a grant from the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC, the festival was organized as a celebration of “Europe Day.” Headlining the event was Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai, in a “reading and conversation” event his translator George Szirtes, who read several of his own poems, moderated by literary critic James Wood. Below you can listen to the conversation on BUniverse. Please note that the recordings from this event are not up to our usual technical standards, but they do convey some of the day’s magic.

German Stage Performance of “Brandung/Abyss” Followed by Conversation with Playwright and Translator Maria Milisavljevic and Director Guy Ben-Aharon

Next up, German Stage players, directed by Guy Ben-Aharon, performed an excerpt from Maria Milisavljevic’s newly translated play “Brandung/Abyss.” Following the performance, Maria and Guy discussed the translation process – Maria worked on the English translation herself while living in Toronto – and the challenges of performing the play on both sides of the Atlantic. As one reviewer asks, “Does the distrust of (even a little) narrative ambiguity by North American dramaturgs and audiences mean that international plays must be made more ‘cinematic’ when they are produced here?  For a great review of the staged reading, visit Arts Fuse.

European Voices in Translation: Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ammiel Alcalay (with Ainsley Morse)

We did not know when we invited German playwright Maria Milisavljevic to take part in the festival that her play, Abyss, centered around Serbian immigrants in unified Germany, still reeling from the trauma of the Yugoslav wars. The staged reading, was, therefore, a perfect segue into the conversation with Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinovic and his translator, Ammiel Alcalay.

European Voices in Translation: Stacey Knecht reads from her translation of “Harlequin’s Millions” by Bohumil Hrabal

We had some technical difficulties processing this recording, please grab your headphones to listen to this video!

European Voices in Translation: Veronika Tuckerova reads her translations of Ivan Blatný

No video of the Cambridge Concentus Concert, sadly – be sure to catch them at their next concert – Bach’s Multiple Harpsichord Concertos – at the First Church in Cambridge on November 23, 2014.

Enjoy our photos!


Created with flickr slideshow.

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European Voices in Translation (05/10/14)

April 3rd, 2014 in Event Announcements, Featured

The Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut Boston and the literary journal AGNI, announces the first annual European Voices Festival: European Voices in Translation. Join us for a day of poems, prose, theater, and music in celebration of “Europe Day.”

Schedule of Events

1 PM – A Reading and Conversation with László Krasznahorkai and George Szirtes | Moderated by James Wood

051014KRASZNAHORKAIWidely recognized as one of the very best and important novelists of our time, László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary, in 1954. He worked for some years as an editor until 1984, when he became a freelance writer. He now lives in reclusiveness in the hills of Szentlászló. He has written five novels and won numerous prizes, including the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in Fiction for Satantango. Previously, he was best-known in the English-speaking world through the oeuvre of the film director Béla Tarr, with whom he has collaborated on several films over three decades, including the adaptation of several of his own novels. [Author website]

051014SZIRTESGeorge Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He was brought up in London and studied Fine Art in London and Leeds. His poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial prize the following year. Szirtes has also worked extensively as a translator of poems, novels, plays and essays and has won various prizes and awards in this sphere, including the 2013 Best Translated Book Award for his translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango. [Author website]

051014WOODJames Wood has been a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker since 2007. He was the chief literary critic at the Guardian, in London, from 1992 to 1995, and a senior editor at The New Republic from 1995 to 2007. His critical essays have been collected in two volumes, “The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief” (1999) and “The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel” (2004), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of a novel, “The Book Against God” (2003), and a study of technique in the novel, “How Fiction Works” (2008). He lives in Boston, and teaches half time at Harvard University, where he is Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism.

2:30 PM – Break

3 PM – Staged reading from German play Brandung/Abyss and Conversation with Playwright and Translator Maria Milisavljevic and German Stage Director Guy Ben-Aharon

Karla is missing. Vlado, Sophia, and Sophia’s sister – the play’s narrator – leave the safety of their apartment to search for their missing friend. As their story slowly unravels, it becomes clear that the narrator isn’t as reliable as she seems and Vlado has been keeping a secret.

TBorn in Arnsberg, Germany, Maria Milisavljevic is an award-winning playwright, theatre creator and director. Her latest play Brandung (Abyss) received the 2013 Kleist Promotional Award for Young Dramatists and is currently showing at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. Maria has worked with various theatres and companies across Germany and in London’s West End. She is currently the International Playwright-in-Residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

051014BEN-AHARONStage Director, Producer and Cultural Entrepreneur Guy Ben-Aharon was born in Israel. The founder of Israeli Stage and co-founder of German Stage, his passion and work is to promote international theatre and cultural bridges in the Greater Boston area.

3:45 PM – Break

4 PM – A Reading and Conversation with Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ammiel Alcalay | Moderated by Ainsley Morse

051014MEHMEDINOVIC Semezdin Mehmedinovic is a Bosnian journalist, poet, editor, and filmmaker. His poetry collection Sarajevo Blues (published in English translation by Ammiel Alcalay in 1998) was praised by the Washington Post as one of the best literary documents of the Bosnian war. A later collection, Nine Alexandrias (translated by Alcalay and published by City Lights in 2003), was written in response to a cross-country train trip across post 9/11 America and to twenty-first century life in the heart of the empire. Soviet Computer (2011) is a diary of his migration from Sarajevo to Prague and eventually Washington, DC.

051014ALCALAYAmmiel Alcalay teaches at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of numerous books, including After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (Minnesota) and an essay collection, Memories of Our Future (City Lights). Islanders, a novel, came out in 2010. His book length poem, from the warring factions, dedicated to the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, came out in a 2nd edition in 2012, followed by a little history in 2013. He has translated widely and, during the wars of ex-Yugoslavia, he was the main conduit in the US for material from Bosnia. He is the founder and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, and Lost & Found Elsewhere, a series of student and guest edited archival texts now in its fifth year.

051014MORSEAinsley Morse’s major interest is twentieth-century Russian poetry, although since she started off with a master’s in Comparative Slavic literatures from UNC-Chapel Hill (where she focused on twentieth-century Serbian and Yugoslav literature), she does her best to keep a foot in the Yugoslav door. She has recently been having a fine time with the phenomenal Yugoslav avant-garde, with special attention to Miroslav Krleza. In studying poetry, Ainsley is partial to close readings combined with a literary-historical approach, with attention to social relations and genealogies, real and imagined.

5:30 PM – Break

6:00 PM – A Reading from Bohumil Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions in English translation (Archipelago Books, May 2014) by Stacey Knecht.

051014HRABALBohumil Hrabal (1914 – 1997) was one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th century. He wrote in colloquial Czech and is famous for his acute observations and charismatic antiheros. His best-known works were I Served the King of England (1971) and Closely Observed Trains (1965), a film of which won an Oscar in 1968. Harlequin’s Millions (1981), soon to be published in English translation by Stacey Knecht, told from the point of view of an elderly woman coming to terms with the passing of time, gives us a glimpse into the changing landscape of Hrabal’s homeland. [Publisher’s website]

051014KNECHTA native New Yorker, Stacey Knecht lives in the Netherlands. Her translations from the Dutch, including Hugo Claus’s Desire; Marcel Moring’s The Dream Room, The Great Longing, and In Babylon; Anke de Vries’s Bruises; Lieve Joris’s Back to the Congo; and Marga Minco’s The Glass Bridge have won awards in the US and the UK. She is currently translating an anthology of Hrabal’s short stories.

6:20 PM – A reading of selected poems by Ivan Blatný in English translation by Veronika Tuckerova

051014BLATNYLost to the world for decades, Ivan Blatný was, according to the Czech Ministry of Culture, “one of the most significant Czech poets of the twentieth century.” Blatný fled Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup in 1948, spending the rest of his life in England. The Drug of Art: Selected Poems, edited by Veronika Tukerova, spans fifty years of his career and is notable for being the first major collection of Blatný’s work in English.

051014TUCKEROVAVeronika Tuckerova grew up in Prague, and holds a Ph.D. in German and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York. Her research focuses on Franz Kafka and Prague German Literature, bilingualism, and translation. Among her translations from German to Czech is Gershom Scholem’s memoir, From Berlin to Jerusalem. She is working on a book, Reading Kafka in Prague during Communism.

6:45 PM – Break

7 PM – Intertwined Musical Voices: Biber, Buxtehude, and Bach | A concert performance by Cambridge Concentus

Early-music ensemble Cambridge Concentus will perform a short program of works for soprano, bass, violins, and harpsichord by Baroque composers Heinrich Biber, Dietrich Buxtehude, and JS Bach. Biber and Buxtehude were highly revered in their time and profoundly contributed to the genres for which Bach is most known today. Concentus provides a tantalizing glimpse of these composers’ intertwined musical voices.

J.S. Bach
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in Eb Major for Solo Harpsichord BWV998

D. Buxtehude (1637-1707)
“Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab” for Soprano, Violins, and Harpsichord, BuxWV38

H. Biber (1644-1704)
Passagalia in G Minor for Solo Violin
XVI from the Mystery Sonatas

D. Buxtehude
“Quemadmodum desiderat cervus: Chiaccona a3” for Bass, Violins, Harpsichord, BuxWV92

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in G Major, BWV1021

J.S. Bach
“Komm Mein Jesu und erquicke” for Soprano, Bass, and Harpsichord
from Ich hatte viel Berkümmernis, BWV21

Ulrike Präger, soprano
Elijah Blaisdell, bass
Dorian Komanoff Bandy, violin
Anna Griffis, violin
Dylan Sauerwald, harpsichord

8 PM – Reception

This event take place at the Goethe Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, MA.  The public is cordially invited. General Admission $10. Students free with university id. [Ticket info]

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