Criminal Figures and their Confessions discussed at Law, Literature and Translation Conference

Posted on: 26 June 2012

Legal and criminal figures in literature, censorship, libel,  copyright, criminal confessions,  jurists’ memoirs and writers’ privileges were just some of the topics which were discussed at a recent Trinity conference ‘Law, Literature, and Translation Conference’  hosted by the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies.

There is no law without literature for law is also literature. We need only think of the Irish druids who were not only poets but also invested with judicial authority. Law and literature, like all humanities, share a common interest in the human experience. However, law aims at the clarity of an objective science whereas the power of literature and its translation rely on emotion and sensitivity of interpretation.

Retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, conference organiser Dr Sandrine Brisset of the School of Law and Poet & Assistant Professor Paul Horan, School of Nursing & Midwifery at TCD.

The conference featured five keynote events including Justice Adrian Hardiman, High Court judge Bryan McMahon, the renowned Kafka translator Professor Mark Harman (USA), lawyer and prolific literary critic Dr. Joseph Hassett, Poet Brendan Kennelly, as well as John O’Brien, Editor-in-Chief of Dalkey Archive Press.

The conference aimed to create an interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars of law, literature, and translation studies. Speakers came from Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, Senegal and the United States, and presentations included a wide range of world literature, genres and topics, from Shakespeare to anti-apartheid fiction, from Irish mythology to James Joyce, from Spanish revenge tragedies to colonial outlaws, and last but not least the case of how the inscriptions of a poet on the walls of a pub can become a public offence that gets that poet arrested.

The event was organised by Dr Peter Arnds, Director of Literary Translation and Comparative Literature at Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Sandrine Brisset, Adjunct lecturer at the School of Law, TCD and Teaching Fellow in the English department of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. It marks the beginning of the TCD Centre of Literary Translation’s annual series of interdisciplinary conferences on issues of translation. The conference was kindly supported by TCD’s School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies as well as the French Embassy in Ireland.