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Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer

Seminar series 2018-19

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.


‘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.


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

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


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

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


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

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


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

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


‘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).

How to Write Translation History’.

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


TBA

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00


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

Room: ArtsOne 1.28
Time: 18:00

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