These related talks on the archive of Carcanet Press provide a dual perspective in two different ways. One speaker is the archivist who curates the collection, and the other a researcher using it in her work. One paper focuses on the earliest days of the Press and the development of its translation series, based largely on evidence found in archival correspondence; the other discusses a recent project to acquire the email of Carcanet Press with the aim of ensuring that recent and contemporary archival correspondence is preserved for researchers of the future.
Florence Impens, ‘Retracing the Development of a Translation Series through the Archive of Carcanet Press’
Shortly after it was founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt, Carcanet Press began to develop a translation series, at a time when poetry in translation, notably from Eastern European countries, was rapidly gaining momentum in the United Kingdom. The series was the fruit of a collaboration between Schmidt and Daniel Weissbort, co-founder with Ted Hughes of Modern Poetry in Translation in 1965, and a poet and translator himself.
Their collaboration was brief but intensive: by the end of the 1970s, when Weissbort’s input on the series stopped due to increasing work commitments in the United States, Carcanet had published nearly twenty volumes of poetry in translation, many of which were informed by joint editorial decisions.
Based on archival material, the talk will show how this collaboration was instrumental in shaping Carcanet’s translation series, as well as in the early successes of the Press. It will also provide elements of reflection as to how researchers in contemporary literature can approach archival material to invigorate their work.
Florence Impens is a Research Associate at the John Rylands Research Institute, University of Manchester, where she is working on a history of the publication of poetry in translation in the UK and Ireland after 1962. A specialist of twentieth- and twenty-first-century British and Irish poetry, she received her Ph.D from Trinity College, Dublin in 2013, and has since also held a NEH Keough Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame.
Fran Baker, ‘Emails to an Editor: Preserving the Digital Correspondence of Carcanet Press’
The Archive of Carcanet Press is one of the most significant modern collections held by The University of Manchester Library, and the correspondence in the archive provides a rich and unique source for researchers working in a range of disciplines.
However, since the late 1990s, the quantity of hard copy correspondence in this living archive has been steadily diminishing. Most correspondence is now conducted by email, often including textually significant manuscripts and proofs exchanged as attachments. This digital archive was residing on hard drives and local networks at the Carcanet office, increasingly at risk of obsolescence.
This talk will provide a case study of the Carcanet Press Email Preservation Project, which tackled the acquisition and preservation of 215,000 emails and 65,000 attachments. As well as raising both curatorial challenges and opportunities, email also poses interesting questions about the future of literary research: what will editions of literary correspondence look like? How has email changed the way in which writers communicate? Is the value of a digital literary archive diminished by the fact that it is so easy to duplicate? Can meaningful research be carried out using quantitative data (like visualisations) rather than having access to the full content of correspondence?
Fran Baker is an archivist at The University of Manchester Library, with responsibility for literary, social/political history, and born-digital archives. She has an MA in Archive Administration and an MPhil in English Literature which focused on textual scholarship. She was a co-founder of the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts.
Monday 7th March (week 9) 1-2.15pm, HBS G03