This will be the first dedicated conference on Elfriede Jelinek in the UK. The organisers also hope to host a workshop on literary translation for postgraduate students and academics where Jelinek's work will be one of the focal points.
If the sporting Olympics, coming to London in 2012, are all about showcasing a diversity of disciplines, actively reaching out to the general public, and providing a stage to promote international cultural understanding, then the work of Elfriede Jelinek, Austria's foremost contemporary writer and Nobel laureate, could be read as a model cultural Olympics all of its own. Jelinek's intersections with a multiplicity of different artistic forms are legend. Not only has the author penned novels, plays, poetry, screenplays, and essays, but she can also point to libretti, to numerous of her own translations of other writers, and to collaborations with a wide variety of artists, composers and intellectuals. Furthermore, her efforts to speak to both highly specialized audiences and to ordinary individuals provide us with a model for understanding how elite performances are valued by multiple audiences and evolve in collaboration with them. Bearing all this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that sport and the mass public consumption of cultural events has been a recurrent point of criticism and a frequent theme within Jelinek's work to date.
With the impetus of cultural understanding and public engagement afforded by the London 2012 Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad that accompanies them, this conference seeks to explore a number of issues relating to cultural impact and to a writer's multiple publics through the compelling case study of Elfriede Jelinek. In so doing, it picks up on recent explorations of Jelinek's interdisciplinarity and intermediality (for instance by the Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre in Vienna), and it continues the discussion with regard to the question of Jelinek's presence outside the German-language 'arena'.
You can listen to a recording of Elfriede Jelinek reading from the opening of her play Ein Sportstück recorded especially for the conference at Lancaster University and for the upcoming première of Sports Play at Nuffield Theatre.