Exhibition Opening at Weißenburger Tor, Germersheim

The opening of the exhibition Spaces of Translation in European Magazine Cultures 1945-65 was held on May 6th, 2022, at the Germersheim Tourism, Culture and Visitor Centre Weißenburger Tor and followed by a champagne reception.

In his address, the Mayor of Germersheim Marcus Schaile emphasised how delighted he was about the contribution the faculty for Translation, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (Campus Germersheim) – the Fachnereich für Translations-, Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft (FTSK) – brings to his town which proudly calls itself “city of languages” thanks to this institute. Prof. Alison E. Martin and Prof. Andrew Thacker, heads of the research project, also welcomed the invited guests and students to the exhibition.

As Prof. Alison E. Martin mentioned in her welcoming speech, translation played an important role in the magazines studied. However, it is not only a focus of this research project itself but also played a decisive role in the organisation of the exhibition, as all texts are given in English and shown alongside their German translations – translation work mainly carried out by FTSK students.

In his speech, which was skilfully interpreted into German by Germersheim student Elisabeth Lesch, Andrew Thacker pointed out once more the aim of the magazines to combat parochialism and nationalism in Europe. As an important figure he mentioned the British writer Stephen Spender with his book European Witness. In the immediate aftermath of WWII, Spender travelled to Germany and along the Rhine region and recorded the chaos of ruined cities and displaced persons. He later became editor of the magazine Encounter, which aimed to offer an international review of literature produced in Europe, by uniting nations, and diversifying voices. At the time, magazines were a very fast-moving medium for sharing information and texts, including translations of literary works.

In conversation with some students during the champagne reception, I noticed how some interesting comparisons were drawn between magazines in the second half of the 20th century and social media nowadays. International trends in politics, literature, and culture can travel quickly and effortlessly today, while magazines conveying the same kind of contents had to be printed, shipped, and purchased by their readers. Not only as a result of the Brexit vote in 2016, but even more so in the light of recent events, where parochialism and nationalism are on the rise and threatening a peaceful Europe once more, have the questions raised in European magazines between 1945 and 1965 once again acquired an unfortunate topicality.

Also among the invited guests were Mr and Mrs Barth, who contributed to the research project in a significant way: they donated a substantial collection of the magazine Der Monat, which their family had collected a generation previously. In our conversation, they said how happy they were to have found a meaningful use for these piles and piles of magazines – which had started collecting dust. In an online second-hand book market, they offered a single issue of Der Monat for sale. Prof. Martin purchased it, little knowing that she would soon be taking delivery of an extensive collection of said magazine. As Research Fellow Dr. Dana Steglich recalls that viewing the magazine issues donated by the Barths was an adventure in itself. She found letters and other documents used as bookmarks among this old print material. Therefore, the magazine not only allowed an insight into thought and politics of the time, but also into the everyday life of its readers.

Apart from eight posters about different magazines alongside their German translations by FTSK students, some original magazine copies are on display at the Germersheim exhibition. They enable visitors to gain unexpected insights into background details such as how an insect took a linking (or not) to Nietzsche’s writing, as can be seen in a copy of L’Arche (Die Arche) from 1946.

The exhibition at the Weißenburger Tor has been extended and will be open to the public until July 5th, 2022, from 10 am to 5 pm each day. Entry is free of charge.

Almut Kowalski

Report on the Opening in Germersheimer Stadtanzeiger:

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