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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘Translating an Oriental Frame Tale in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia and Beyond’ (Dr Rachel Scott)

12 December 2018

Time: 6:00pm
Speaker: Dr Rachel Scott (KCL)
Venue: ArtsOne 1.28


This talk will address several of the medieval and early modern translations of Kalila wa-Dimna – a famous Arabic collection of exemplary fables set within a framed narrative. Kalila wa-Dimna was composed in the 8th century by Ibn Al-Muqaffa, a convert to Islam, and was itself a translation of a translation that originated in 4th-century India, known as the Panchatantra. My research takes it cues from scholarship that has conceptualised translation as a political and ontological act of identity formation. I am concerned not with translation techniques but translation as a form of intercultural encounter, as a means of dealing with a culture/society’s relationship with the Other, with its own past and heritage, and constructing an identity for itself in the present. I see translation as a form of storytelling, ultimately. I consider Kalila wa-Dimna and the texts that descend from it as case-studies of relations between cultures, particularly on an East/West axis. My aim is to explore how perceptions of the ‘Orient’ evolved, and how cultural forms and practices that originated in the East were appropriated and in turn used to define social and national groups in western Europe.

Full programme here. 

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