School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer

Joint research seminar for Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

This seminar series aims to create a space for conversations about translation in the widest sense of the word – translation as an encounter between two or more cultures as well as languages, and translation as the cultural transmission of concepts as well as words. We are interested in questions of translation history (historical translators; translation practices and cultures), methodology (developing new approaches at the interstices of literary, historical, cultural, and linguistic studies), theory (engagement with theorists from Cicero and Bruni to Steiner and Venuti; interaction with other theoretical foci such as gender, race, medical and environmental humanities; new developments in theorisations of multicultural and multilingual translations), and the specific translation cultures of any given language or language environment. We are hoping to promote dialogues between scholars working on different languages, between theorists and practitioner-based research, and across the wide world of cultural engagements in history from ancient Greece to contemporary dialects.

In addition to traditional research papers, we welcome works in progress as well as novel approaches to engaging with scholarly research: explorations of research-informed teaching or teaching-informed research on translation, discussions on accessing and using digital resources, and bringing Translation Studies to a wider audience through public engagement activities.

Seminars will take place on Wednesday evenings at 18:00 at QMUL (ArtsOne 1.28), Mile End, London. Refreshments will be provided, and an evening meal/visit to the pub is likely to follow.

26th September 2018 - Dr Roel Konijnendijk (University of Leiden)

‘Reading Clausewitz to Understand Thucydides: Prussian Militarism and the Modern Study of Ancient Greek Warfare’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

Abstract

The earliest academic experts in the field of Ancient Greek military history were Germans with often close ties to the military, and they studied the subject from a very particular perspective. They understood warfare through the lens of Prussian professionalism, the military academy, and 19th-century technology. But the Greeks they studied were amateurs, who had no professional army or officer class or military theory. The result is that these German scholars felt compelled not just translate and interpret sources from Greek to German (and, in the case of their Anglophone successors, from Greek to English), but to translate them from the imprecise and open-ended language of the citizen-soldier to the specific terminology of modern military textbooks. An important element of the way we now (mis)understand Greek warfare is this distortion that lies at the foundation of all our theories.

24th October 2018 - Dr Adhira Mangalagiri (QMUL)

'Unfriendly Comparison: Antagonism in China-India Literary Relations'.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

Abstract

Comparative Literature excels at studying connection, dialogue, exchange, translation, and other positively-valued modes of relation. In contrast, this paper questions whether the method of comparison can be harnessed to study “unfriendly” relations such as hostility, tensions, anxieties, and the absence of dialogue and exchange. I explore this question through the case of twentieth-century China-India literary relations. Reading Chinese and Hindi texts, I consider how comparative methods can sustain and apprehend antagonism on its own terms instead of aiming to resolve or erase conflict.

14th November 2018 - Dr Cathy McAteer (Bristol)

‘Red Books and Russian Agents: Behind the Scenes at Penguin's Russian Classics’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

Abstract

This paper examines Penguin’s twentieth-century re-launch of the nineteenth-century Russian literary canon. Drawing on previously untapped archival material (letters, memos, readers’ reports, reviews, adverts), this paper reveals a previously undisclosed ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at Russian-English literary translation in the mid-twentieth century. It offers new insight into Penguin Classics luminaries: Penguin founder Allen Lane, the editors EV Rieu and ASB Glover, and the early translators Elisaveta Fen, David Magarshack and Rosemary Edmonds, whose work also enjoyed frequent airings on national stage and in BBC Third Programme broadcasts. I will examine how these agents pooled their expertise and abilities to bring an accessible form of Russian literature to the mass lay reader. I will be drawing on archive- and text-based materials – a micro-historical approach, as advocated by Jeremy Munday – to explain how translators’ personal/professional backgrounds shaped their translation practice and, in doing so, determined the Anglophone reception of classic Russian literature for almost half a century.

12th December 2018 - Dr Rachel Scott (KCL)

‘Translating an Oriental Frame Tale in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia and Beyond’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

23rd January 2019 - Dr Marta Marfany (Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona)

‘Translating into Catalan 19th-Century French Texts in Prose: Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

27th February 2019 - Dr Ricarda Vidal (KCL) and Dr Madeleine Campbell (Glasgow)

‘The Translator's Gaze: Intersemiotic Translation as Transactional Process’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

Abstract
Communication happens on many levels, the gestural, the olfactory, the visual, the linguistic etc. While word-based languages are confined to linguistic borders, which often coincide with national or even regional borders, non-word-based forms of expression can transcend such borders, while, of course still being influenced by cultural traditions. Intersemiotic translation (e.g. the translation of a poem into dance, or a short story into an olfactory experience, or a film into a painting) opens up a myriad of possibilities to map form and sense between cultures beyond the limitations of words. Such exchanges impact on both the translator and the source artefact enriching them with new layers of understanding. At the same time, current terminologies and metaphors associated with translation imply certain unexamined assumptions about the nature of the source, the translator and the transaction between them.
Challenging boundaries between source and target, we make a case to reposition Roman Jakobson’s seminal structuralist definition of intersemiotic translation more as a subjective, synaesthetic and relational experience to be rendered, and less as a message or content-and-form package to be carried across modal or medial boundaries. As a transactional process intersemiotic translation is different from adaptation, illustration or interpretation: the artist must adopt the technique of the literary translator, the deep engagement and immersive reading of the source text as well as the loyalty or duty to its prior form. Hence what makes intersemiotic translation ‘translation’ is not so much the end result but the process and the translator’s gaze. As praxis it can be a way of creating new work within the limitations presented by the source text, while at the same time exposing its multiple facets and ‘truths’. We willillustrate our argument with examples from our own practice as (intersemiotic) translators.
This talk is based on the first chapter of our edited volume Translating across Sensory and Linguistic Borders: Intersemiotic Journeys between Media (Palgrave, 2018).

20th March 2019 - Professor Theo Hermans (UCL)

How to Write Translation History’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

24th April 2019 - Dr Elettra Carbone (UCL)

TBA

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

29th May 2019 - Dr Victoria Moul (KCL)

‘Why Latin? Verse Translations from Vernacular into Latin in the Seventeenth Century’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00