Writing Brecht

This is an international research and translation project devoted to extending and developing the corpus of Brecht’s works in English. It incorporates a major AHRC-funded project, ‘Brecht into English’, which runs from 2013-2018. This proposes a parallel critical appraisal of the transmission of Brecht’s writings and ideas and a historical assessment of the reception of Brecht in the English-speaking world. The aspiration is to advance our understanding of the ways in which not just Brecht, but foreign literatures in general and across the full range of genres, negotiate cultural difference.
The project has two overriding objectives: the first is to exploit the extensive collected experience of an international team of scholars and editors to interrogate the problems and opportunities presented, both historically and in the present, by an English edition of Brecht’s works. Scholars will reflect critically on the processes of editing and translating Brecht (as an example of ‘translating cultures’), with special emphases on the translation of theoretical terms and on the translation of Brecht’s poetry and verse; and they will review the reception of Brecht in English, especially as that reception has been shaped by the history of translation and publication. The second objective involves a series of major new publications of Brecht’s own works. The aim is to ‘complete’ the English-language edition of Brecht’s plays and theoretical writings, and of his poems. This has been a large-scale publishing project over many decades and has provided an important and independent critical edition.
Significant additions to the corpus of Brecht’s writings in English will include: two volumes of theatre theoretical writings, a volume of the adaptations for the Berliner Ensemble, a volume of dramatic fragments, the unfinished historical novel The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar, and the Me-Ti stories and aphorisms. A major new edition of the Collected Poems will also be published. In addition to these major research publications, the project will run a cultural programme of workshops, performances and recitals, and will engage in outreach with school pupils and undergraduates. It will participate in theatre and literary festivals and will attract the triennial conference of the International Brecht Society to the UK in 2016, the first time the IBS will have visited the UK.
The project is led by Dr Tom Kuhn (Oxford), a leading scholar of Brecht in the English-speaking world. Other members of the core team include Steve Giles (Nottingham), Marc Silberman (Madison, Wisconsin), David Constantine (Oxford) and Charlotte Ryland (postdoctoral researcher, Oxford). There is also collaboration across disciplines, including working closely with theatre studies (David Barnett, Sussex), and knowledge exchange beyond the academy through interaction with theatre practitioners: directors Di Trevis and Walter Meierjohann are members of the project’s advisory board and involved in workshops and the cultural programme. The project will also work closely with established and emerging translators of Brecht’s drama, theory and poetry.


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