Translating the Archive: The Letters of Lotte Eisner


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In April 2019, German Studies students at the University of Hull were invited to a one-day event funded by the Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education and the German Screen Studies Network. The event, ‘Translating the Archive: The Letters of Lotte Eisner’, was organised by Dr. Elizabeth Ward and Julia Eisner. 


Over the course of the day, students analysed archival correspondence between film critic Lotte Eisner and West German film director Gerhard Lamprecht through a series of dedicated workshops. Students were able to apply their linguistic and cultural German skills and in doing so contributed directly to Julia Eisner’s research into Lotte Eisner’s exile correspondence. 


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The opening session framed the letters and introduced the key figures to the students. The students then divided themselves into three groups. Each group looked at letters from a different period: 1953-1955, 1959, and 1959 – 1963. In Workshop One, the students worked analysed the register, content, and context of the exchange between Eisner and Lamprecht. In the feedback plenaries, the students reported back on their findings and discovered commonalities and differences between the different sets of letters. 


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In Workshop Two, students worked in their groups to analyse the content of the letters. Students were encouraged to move between the different groups and share their findings with one another. This was followed by a plenary discussion as we continued to find unexpected links between the groups’ findings.



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In the final workshop, students were given the freedom to decide how they wanted to spend the last hour. 











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Some students continued their linguistic and cultural analysis of the letters. Students who were interested in translation were able to work on a translation of a letter of their choice. 










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The day finished with a public film screening of Lamprecht’s 1946 film Irgendwo in Berlin (Somewhere in Berlin), which was introduced by University of Hull students and was then followed by a panel discussion with the students. 


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