Looking for participants….

This week a request for participants from Oxford’s Chair of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics, Prof. Henrike Lähnemann – if you’re in Oxford on 25 May 2017 and want to take part in some of the celebrations and events for Bonn Week, read on…

Lucas_Cranach_d.Ä._(Werkst.)_-_Porträt_des_Martin_Luther_(Lutherhaus_Wittenberg)
A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1528)

I am looking for German speakers who would like to take part in a public reading of Martin Luther’s ‘Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen’ in German which is scheduled to take place on 25 May, 4-5:30pm, at the Taylor Institution Library, Oxford. This is to launch the first publication in a series of Reformation pamphlets in facsimile, transcription and new translations, provided in this case by Howard Jones (and with input from many of you). The reading will be recorded and made available together with the free, open access edition, in the Digital Library section of the Reformation 2017 blog of the Taylorian where currently there is already the facsimile and transcription available. Thanks to sponsorship from the German Embassy, we will be able to hand out free print copies to all readers and sell them otherwise at the launch for 2GBP (afterwards 5GBP); the download will be available free directly after the launch.

The launch is scheduled to coincide with Bonn Week, a celebration of 70 years of twinning with Bonn, so we hope to have a good mix of German and British audience. Further details to follow – for now I just need expressions of interest for reading; drop me an email to volunteer for a paragraph. It would be nice to have a cross-section of voices from young and old, men and women, German and English native speakers! The text is 7,000 words long = ca. 60 minutes reading time; if we could have 20 speakers, everybody would get one (longer or shorter) paragraph, between 2 and 4 minutes.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Henrike Lähnemann (email: henrike.lähnemann@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)

PS: You might have seen / heard the BBC series ‘Breaking Free – Martin Luther’s Revolution’; two episodes are now available from the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nyr3b

Deutschland 83 – Exploring the challenges of subtitling

In the midst of a month that saw reading groups galore, Olympiad celebrations and the end of another Trinity term at Oxford, OGN hosted one further event, this time focussing on translation and in particular the challenges of subtitling.  The topic?  The highly acclaimed and highly watchable German TV show Deutschland 83

As part of Oxford Translation Day 2016 the editor of New Books in German and OGN’s former Coordinator Dr Charlotte Ryland ran an event looking at translation from a German perspective.  Deutschland 83, a German drama brought to British audiences by Channel 4 using English subtitles, seemed a fruitful topic to discuss and dissect.  With the aid of clips from the series and quotations from UK press reviews, the workshop explored the linguistic and cultural issues that arise during the translation process.

The popularity of the show suggests that it reached a far wider audience than is usual for ‘foreign language’ films/tv shows, where the use of subtitles often feels off-putting for those who are not familiar with the original language.  Of course, the rich subject matter – Cold War Germany, a young soldier being sent to West Germany as a spy for the East, myriad family complications and love interests – did much to recommend the programme to UK audiences, but the fact that viewers tuned in week after week arguably has much to do with its watchability and the high quality of the subtitles.

The group of approximately twenty attendees at the event – Oxford students, local teachers and pupils, other lovers of German – were first asked to consider some of the complexities of translation in general, before then focussing on the specific constraints of subtitling for film or television: How to reduce speech to short, readable lines?  How much context to give for cultural references?

Moving to Deutschland 83 itself, Charlotte presented a series of short clips for the group to consider – did the subtitles ‘match’ with the original German?  Was anything lost where there were in fact differences between the two?

The real challenge for the group then came as they were asked to attempt their own English subtitles, armed only with the transcribed German and a set of dictionaries.   It quickly became clear just how tricky it really is to produce a rendering that is concise, clear and culturally relevant!  All left the event keen to further explore translation and subtitling, and to re-watch the first series of Deutschland 83.  Here’s hoping for a second series very soon!

Nicola Deboys, OGN Coordinator

Brigitte magazine – a history of the book phenomenon!

For me and perhaps many of you too, Brigitte is a magazine hastily grabbed at an airport or train station to flick through during a trip to Germany. It is glossy, glamorous without being aloof, and genuinely seems interested in the lives of its readers – with sister publications targetting a variety of groups and age ranges: from Brigitte Young Miss to Brigitte MOM and Brigitte Balance to the only recently launched Brigitte Wir. According to recent statistics Brigitte is the overall market leader amongst quality fortnightlies for women in Germany. That’s no mean feat in an increasingly saturated marketplace. But what does this have to do with ‘History of the Book’? – Surely Brigitte, as a modern magazine, has no place in a field which traditionally focuses on manuscripts and marginalia?

Absolutely not! As part of a recent project I have been studying advice texts for women from the seventeenth century to the present – with ‘the present’ represented by Brigitte, in particular its online version. The other texts in my study are Georg Philipp Harsdörffer’s Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiele (1641-9); Johann Christoph Gottsched’s Die vernünftigen Tadlerinnen (1725-6) and Sophie von La Roche’s Pomona (1783-4). But for now, let’s focus on Brigitte. Despite its apparent modernity, Brigitte’s success is an enduring phenomenon, stretching back into the nineteenth century.

The magazine now called Brigitte began life as the weekly Dies Blatt gehört der Hausfrau in 1886. The early magazine featured serialised novels, poems, advice about the home, garden and health, alongside travel tips, historical and scientific articles, and even sewing patterns. By 1894 the print run had reached 85,000. From 1952 “Blatt der Hausfrau” was prefixed with “Brigitte” and finally in May 1954 the title became simply Brigitte. By 1954 it appeared fortnightly, cost 65 Pfennig and around 177,000 copies were sold per issue, reaching 970,000 women.

Hausfrau
From this…

And since then the magazine seems to have gone from strength to strength, developing spin-offs focussing on different age groups or hobbies, and putting increasing emphasis on digital content. For my project, which focussed in particular on the relationship between author and audience, Brigitte’s ‘Stimmen’ campaign really struck a chord. ‘Stimmen’ presents real articles written by real women.   This is articulated in the slogan “Hier kommt ihr zu Wort!” Brigitte is currently searching for its next round of readers turned writers to share their “starke Stimmen”. The 200 or so Stimmen originally published display exactly this range in topic and tone. Apart from a very few where a cartoon image is used, each article is accompanied by a real photograph and short biography. Some tell very personal stories, such as “Ich trage kein Kopftuch mehr” or “Ich bin eine Transfrau”, while others engage with controversial issues and adopt the tone of an editorial or comment piece, for example “Warum ich gegen die Frauenquote bin”, “Helikopter-Eltern: Warum ihre Kinder später ein Problem haben” and “Frauen, ihr wollt mehr verdienen? Dann geht hin und fragt!”

Brigitte
…to this!

In the context of my study, this campaign marks an interesting progression from early advice texts for women, which, since the seventeenth century, gradually attempted to build a relationship with their readers, whether through presenting female figures, projecting fictional female narrators, or encouraging readers to write in with their own contributions.

So on your next trip to Germany, as you grab a copy of Brigitte to read on your travels, you’ll know that there’s a lot more to this polished publication than meets the eye, and perhaps, if you take a look online you’ll encounter some ‘Stimmen’ that chime with your own experiences.

 

Nicola, OGN Coordinator