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SYSU Held International Masters Frontier Forum and the 6th Chen Yinque Academic Lecture Series

Last updated :2019-11-06

Source: Boya (Liberal Arts) College
Written by: Boya (Liberal Arts) College
Edited by: Wang Dongmei

Recently, the International Masters Frontier Forum and the 6th Chen Yinque Academic Lecture Series, organized by Boya (Liberal Arts) College and supported by Office of International Cooperation & Exchange, was held on Guangzhou South Campus of Sun Yat-sen University. Professor Douglas Cairns from University of Edinburgh, U.K., was invited as the guest for this forum.

Professor Douglas Cairns gave three lectures entitled “Translating emotions: the problems of emotion terms in Latin, Greek, and other languages”, "Translating minds: Homeric psychology in modern languages”, "Translating Sophocles’ Antigone: from Hölderlin to Heaney” respectively.

In the first lecture, Professor Cairns explained that the difficulties of translating emotion terms were attributed to the rich senses and complicated context of words. So to make a good translation, a translator should be familiar with the range of words, change the perspective of seeing world, and move from what is meaningful in the source culture to what is meaningful in the target culture. Professor Cairns explored these ideas with particular reference to ancient Greek like aidôs.

In the second lecture, Professor Cairns mentioned that in dealing with emotions, which are multidimensional processes, we need to think in terms of scripts, multidimensional scenarios of a dynamic, diachronic nature. By studying the Homeric poems, Professor Cairns came up with some opinions different from traditional ideas like “multiple ‘psychic organs’ have in the past been taken to imply a disunity of the personality”, despite of taking account of the oral-formulaic principles on which Homeric verse is composed, he attempted to show that the relevant locutions in Homer are ways of representing its phenomenology.

In the last lecture, Professor Cairns talked about how the opinion of Antigone, a character created by Sophocles, changed from past to today. Professor Cairns traced the changing of the figure Antigone from the 18th century taking Hölderlin’s version as a beginning, and he pointed out the modern notion that “Antigone is an oppressed, rebelling figure” came gradually with several changes.

The lectures of Professor Cairns not only gave inspirations about translations to faculty and students of SYSU, but also led the attendees to think about the text and thought of literature under cross-cultural, cross-regional and trans-era perspectives.

Professor Douglas Cairns was elected to Membership of Academia Europaea in 2013 and to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Academy in 2018. He works on ancient Greek society, ethics, and literature, especially the emotions.