NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand
Find Us on Facebook
Follow Us
Join Us


Loading feeds...

Innovation in Bible Translation: History, Theory, Practice
Jacobus Naude and Cynthia Miller-Naude
University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa)


Although Bible translation is rightly considered a variety of religious translation, in many respects Bible translators have operated outside of the field of translation studies in general. This panel seeks to bring Bible translation into conversation with translation studies by highlighting recent developments in Bible translation with respect to the implementation of the sociological turn in translation studies.

There are three main areas to be examined: (1) The writing of histories of Bible translation with special attention to their social and cultural impact. Included in this area are the ways in which Bible translation has impacted language groups socially and culturally with respect, for example, to language development and social and economic development. (2) The theory of Bible translation, especially concerning direct and indirect translation, translation as interpretation, and intersemiotic translation. Included in this area are the ways in which Bible translation has approached the issues of foreignisation and indigenisation and the question of respect for the cultural and religious values of the target culture. (3) The practice of Bible translation, especially with respect to orality and non-print media, performance criticism, and technological developments.

For informal enquiries: [millerclATufsDOTacDOTza]

Cynthia and JacobusJacobus A. Naudé (University of the Free State) is a member of the Afrikaans Bible translation project and serves on the advisory board of the Handbook of Translation Studies. He edited Contemporary Translation Studies and Bible Translations (2002), Language Practice: One Profession; Many Applications (2007), Socio-constructive Language Practice: Training in the South African Context (2008), Bible Translation and the Indigenous (2009).

Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé (University of the Free State) has been a consultant for Bible translators in Africa since 1992. She has published on the translation of biblical proverbs in African languages (2005), religious translation in Africa (2011), Lamentations in the King James Version (2012), ideology and translation strategy in Bible translation (2013), alterity, orality and performance in Bible translation.


Each paper is allocated with a 20 minutes time slot + 10 minutes discussion.

Discussion time at the end of each paper


Introduction to the panel

Title: Innovation in Bible Translation

Speaker: Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé, University of the Free State


Cynthia Miller-Naudé (University of the Free State) has been a consultant for Bible translators in Africa since 1992. She has published on the translation of biblical proverbs in African languages (2005), religious translation in Africa (2011), Lamentations in the King James Version (2012), ideology and translation strategy in Bible translation (2013), alterity, orality and performance in Bible translation.



Title: PARATEXT: SOFTWARE FOR BIBLE TRANSLATORS - Staying Close to the Cutting Edge

Speaker: Reinier de Blois

Abstract: Since 1997 thousands of Bible translators worldwide have been working with Paratext, a suite of programs, created by the United Bible Societies (UBS) for Bible Translation staff. In 2011 UBS and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) decided to merge Paratext with SIL's Translation Editor (TE) and continue developing the resulting tool together under the name ParaTExt. Other tools of the suite are Publishing Assistant, Concordance Builder, Names Index Builder, the Digital Bible Library, and the Global Bible Catalogue. Together these programs offer Bible translators, publishers, and archivists a set of tools that cover almost all phases of the Bible Translation lifecycle. As a result, ParaTExt has become the de-facto standard in the Bible Translation world.

This paper will give a brief history of the development of this tool, followed by a description of the entire suite and the place of each individual tool within the Bible Translation lifecycle. The main focus will be on ParaTExt and the special functionality that it offers to Bible translators that are not usually included in other Bible software packages. We will see how Project MARBLE offers access to high quality resources to serve Bible translators all over the globe, including those that do not know Hebrew and Greek. We will also pay attention to ParaTExt's powerful Scripture editing and text checking functionality. In addition, there will be a section that demonstrates how ParaTExt can help ensure the consistency of a translation with the help of the Biblical Terms and Parallel Passage tools. We will also pay attention to a number of advanced features of the software, such as ParaTExt's statistical glossing technology. The paper will conclude with a brief description of several other tools that are part of the ParaTExt suite.

Bionote: Reinier de Blois has an MA in African Linguistics (University of Leiden) and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Linguistics (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). His area of specialization is Hebrew Lexicography. He is the editor of the Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew (SDBH, He has worked with the United Bible Societies as Translation Consultant in Africa from 1990 until 2011. Since 2011 he is the Global Coordinator for the Institute of Computer Assisted Publishing


Title: From Orality to Orality: A Sensual Story of Bible Translation

Speaker: James Maxey

Abstract: The histories of the Christian Bible offer a fertile space for the consideration of translation and media. Beyond the sheer number of cultures, languages, and translated material, the sociological dimensions of Bible translation demonstrate the multilateral interactions of commissioners, translators and host communities in highly charged ideological situations. This is particularly evident during the missionary era of the 18-20th centuries, in which Bible translation is implicated in the colonial projects of Europe and North America carried out in the global south. Of the many facets of these colonial projects, the printed book as the preferred medium of translation reflects the bias of those involved in the Bible Translation (BT) industry. In the late 20th century, research in several disciplines – from the classics to ethnopoetics to religious studies to translation studies – highlighted the questions of media and translation. These studies have slowly begun to inform BT. While many in BT have simply substituted oral for the print media while maintaining their ideological agendas, others have understood the epistemological implications in a shift of media and the ideological, theoretical, and methodological ramifications of such a shift. This is evidenced in the emerging theory of Biblical Performance Criticism (BPC). An assertion of BPC is that oral performance was the primary means of communication in antiquity and that this informed how the early biblical material was composed and disseminated. That is to say, that the biblical material was composed to be heard and experienced in performance rather than to be read silently and in isolation from community. This assertion has tremendous implications for the interpretation and translation of the Bible today. The set of questions and the methods for translation change dramatically if one understands the Bible as a result of the interface of media and its portrayal as oral performance. This current study develops themes from previous research in the translation and performance of biblical material in one project in central Cameroon as well as personal experiences of performance and translation. One of the main assertions made in this regard is that this activity is more than translation for performance, but understands performance as translation. Translation studies' view of translation as a creative act and rewriting rather than as an act of recuperation with the results constantly being measured by equivalence encourages BT to be prospective rather than retrospective in its views. This perspective invites BPC to promote the creative production of biblical material that contributes to a sociological understanding of BT beyond linguistics to cultural issues of identity and power along with audience interaction.

Bionote: James Maxey is Associate Dean of the Nida Institute and Dean of Faculty for the Nida School of Translation Studies. He has been involved in translation work in Africa for more than twenty years. His research interests include performance and translation, as well as cultural studies. In addition to numerous journal articles, he is author of From Orality to Orality: A New Paradigm for Contextual Translation of the Bible (Wipf & Stock, 2009) and co-editor of Translating Scripture for Sound and Performance: New Directions in Biblical Studies (Wipf & Stock, 2012).


Title: Bible Translation as Intercultural Encounter: Translation as an Interrogative Paradigm

Speaker: Deborah Shadd

Abstract: Recent decades have seen a significant expansion in the theorization of translation and increased complexification of our very understanding of the concept, due in large part to the ongoing elaboration of postcolonial thought and of other theoretical perspectives which have developed in its wake. Moving beyond the notion of translation as a strictly textual process, a number of scholars have begun to recognize translation as a valuable paradigm for interrogating certain other disjunctive cultural and social experiences that increasingly mark our existence in a globalized world and that contribute fundamentally to the formation of identities. In the introduction to their book Post-Colonial Translation: Theory and Practice, for example, Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi suggest that colonies could usefully be considered translations of their European originals. Building on this historical example, others have employed a similar paradigm in writing about experiences from migration to education to the construction of multicultural societies as processes of translation. Each of these studies, as well as others like them, presents a concept of translation that is far from prototypical; instead, what emerges is a metaphorical, or better, paradigmatic view of translation that allows us to apply what has been learned from centuries of dialogue about the social and cultural negotiations demanded by textual translation to other non-textual transformative processes. Bible translation is a clear example of a practice positioned at the very juncture of these two broad conceptions of translation – the prototypical and the paradigmatic – being initially concerned with a textual transformation, but inevitably carrying with it much broader implications for a whole series of other potential transformations of identity and community. Having first surveyed the ways this translational paradigm has been employed by scholars to date, this paper will go on to explore how such a paradigm might be usefully applied to the theorization of Bible translation, positioning the textual act of Bible translation as but one element of a broader socially transformative process and providing a single framework within which to address not only linguistic, but also contextual, cultural and social disruptures. Drawing on examples of several Bible translation projects carried out within the Canadian context, this paper will ask whether and to what extent the notion of a translational paradigm may be a useful tool both for deepening our understanding of past conflicts which have emerged in relation to sacred text translation and for helping us envision new and generative possibilities for better situating such projects in the future. In other words, how might expanding the breadth of our translational thinking inform our theorizing of Bible translation, as well as our practice of engaging with the cultural and social aspects of this cross-cultural undertaking?


Deborah Shadd holds the position of Translation Training and Scholarship Associate at the Nida Institute and is Dean of Associates for the Nida School of Translation Studies. Her research focuses on the role of language and education policy in the formation of cultural identities, postcolonial translation theory, and the maintenance and management of Canadian multiculturalism. She has worked as a freelance translator and published a number of articles, including "The Other Side of the Coin: A New Perspective on Translation and Metaphor" (In Other Words, 2009) and "Chasing Ricoeur: In Pursuit of the Translational Paradigm" (New Voices in Translation Studies, 2012).


Title: Bible Translation and Alterity from an Orthodox Perspective

Speaker: Simon Crisp

Abstract: Much recent discussion in Bible translation has turned on questions of alterity. The wish to reflect in translation the essential otherness of the biblical text has come more clearly into focus as readers have increasingly become dissatisfied with the so-called functionally equivalent Bible translations which predominated in the second half of the twentieth century, largely as a result of the work of Eugene Nida. The sharp distinction made by Nida between equivalence of form and equivalence of meaning, together with a strong emphasis on idiomatic communication of meaning at the expense of the form of the source text, has over time been found unsatisfactory by readers looking for translations which reflect more clearly the status of the Bible as sacred text. In part these concerns have been driven by an increasing engagement of Bible translators with the wider world of Translation Studies. Functionalist theory of translation (Vermeer, Nord) in particular has become influential, and Relevance theory (Sperber, Wilson) has been systematically applied to Bible translation by some scholars (Gutt, Pattemore). Most recently attempts have been made to explore ways in which concepts of alterity, developed primarily in literary theory (Kristeva) and social psychology (Levinas), can usefully be applied to Bible translation (Beal, Towner). Nonetheless there remains a significant gap between this more theoretical level of reflection and the actual practice of making Bible translations. Most attempts to preserve in translation the otherness of the biblical text come down to more or less extremely literal renderings which essentially reflect very closely the form of the source text. This paper will suggest that the Orthodox Christian tradition of the understanding of Scripture, with its emphasis upon mystery on the one hand and continuity with Tradition on the other, can provide the basis for an approach to Bible translation which respects alterity without simply turning it into extreme literalness. Illustrative examples from a range of Orthodox-sponsored Bible translation projects will be presented and analysed in support of this claim, and some conclusions will be drawn about Orthodox Bible translation in English in the light of discussions about translation and alterity.

Bionote: Simon Crisp holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford and an MA from the University of Birmingham. He has worked in the field of Bible translation for more than thirty years, and currently serves as Coordinator for Scholarly Editions and Translation Standards with the United Bible Societies. He is partially seconded to the Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society, where he has particular responsibility for program development in the Orthodox world. He has published widely in the areas of Bible translation, hermeneutics and biblical text criticism, and holds an honorary fellowship at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham.


Title: A Case Study of the Chinese Union Version of the Holy Bible from the feminist perspective

Speaker: Debbie Sou

Abstract: The translation practice of the Holy Bible has been of the most challenging intercultural and interracial activity for the bible translators at all times because of the rapid and constant growth of a wide readership around the world. The myriads of retranslated and revised versions of this Holy Scripture indicate that there has always been a need for greater accuracy and the consideration of readers' response. Most versions of the Holy Bible in use nowadays are the products of patriarchy, and thus inevitably carry some gender-biased elements, which can appear to be perplexing or even unacceptable in an era when 'Feminist influences have penetrated every denomination' of Christianity. The vernacular Bible in the patriarchal language may create negative perceptions of women in the target culture. Although there are already many revised versions of the Holy Bible paying special attention to the use of gender-neutral or gender-inclusive terms, did the translators of the latest version of the Chinese Union Version (CUV) pay attention to the issue of gender? Have some of the gender issues that exist in various English versions of the Holy Bible been 'automatically' resolved as the text is rendered into contemporary Chinese? And if they did, how is the translator's gender consciousness reflected in the use of third-person pronouns in the two Chinese Union Versions? Citing translation theorists W. Benjamin (1968), S. Simon (1996) and some feminist discourse on Bible translation, this thesis examines the Chinese Union Version Bible (1919) and its updated version, the (RCUV) Revised Chinese Union Version (2010) to see if the RCUV is more gender-conscious than its predecessor. For the purpose of the investigation, the biblical 'fault lines' and the gender-biased language challenged and revised by the feminists are selected and studied together with their corresponding Chinese verses in the CUV and the RCUV. The study has found that the gender-biased lexes in the Chinese Union Version have been updated in the Revised Chinese Union Version; moreover, it is also perceived that an increasing number of Chinese biblical theologians and Chinese readers of the Bible are holding an open attitude towards reading the Bible from the feminist perspective. Therefore, the findings in the paper will provide reference for checking the gender-biased elements in the existing and future revisions of the Chinese Bible.

Bionote: Debbie Sou completed her Master's Degree in Translation Studies two years ago with her Master's thesis in Bible translation from the University of Macau. She also received her Bachelor's Degree in English Studies and Post-graduate Education diploma in the same university. She is now working as an English teacher in a secondary school in Macau. For translation practice, Debbie has been involved constantly in some church simultaneous interpretation services both in English and Chinese since 2009 in her own church in Macau. Her interest is to study any Bible translation work and interpretation practice rendered in today's Chinese Christian denominations.


Title: Oral-Written Style and Bible Translation

Speaker: Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé and Jacobus A. Naudé

Abstract: Recent research has shown that the Bible, in general, and the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), in particular, were composed both by way of oral tradition and scribal activity and that, furthermore, these two aspects cannot be absolutely separated, either chronologically or in terms of importance (Carr 2005, 2011; de Vries 2012; Walton and Sandy 2013). This oral-written interface means that, on the one hand, there are oral features of the biblical tradition, some of which we have access to as "fossilized" remnants within the written text (Rhoads 2012). On the other hand, there are written features that relate both to the literary style of the author(s) and to the influence of scribal redaction and transmission (Polak 1998, 2012). The new field of Biblical Performance Criticism has highlighted the oral background of the biblical text and has suggested that translation must attend to translation of performance, translation for performance and translation as performance (Maxey 2009, 2012; Makutoane, Miller-Naudé and Naudé forthcoming)

In this paper, we examine various aspects of the oral and written styles within the Hebrew source text of the Old Testament as they relate to the ways in which speech and the perception of speech are represented. When speech is retold or represented within a story, the storyteller has the option to provide a metapragmatic analysis of the "original" speech event. Most commonly, these metapragmatic comments take the shape of quotative frames, which introduce the represented speech and specify various pragmatic features of it, such as the original speaker, the original addressee, the nature of the speech event, or the reason for the speech event. The metapragmatic variety encountered within the Hebrew Bible is usually described as the work of authors/redactors and attributed to written literary style. In this paper we first examine evidence which suggests that at least some of the metapragmatic variety relates instead to strategies employed by the storytellers/performers of oral texts. We then explore the ways in which various kinds of oral and written style may be encountered in translations of the biblical text.

Bionote: Cynthia Miller-Naudé (University of the Free State) has been a consultant for Bible translators in Africa since 1992. She has published on the translation of biblical proverbs in African languages (2005), religious translation in Africa (2011), Lamentations in the King James Version (2012), ideology and translation strategy in Bible translation (2013), alterity, orality and performance in Bible translation.

Jacobus Naudé (University of the Free State) is a member of the Afrikaans Bible translation project and serves on the advisory board of the Handbook of Translation Studies. He edited Contemporary Translation Studies and Bible Translations (2002), Language Practice: One Profession; Many Applications (2007), Socio-constructive Language Practice: Training in the South African Context (2008), Bible Translation and the Indigenous (2009).


Title: Power and Progress: a look at the Baoule Bible Translation Project

Speaker: Lynell Marchese Zogbo


Missionary-based and missionary-directed Bible translations in Africa were the norm rather than the exception during the major part of the twentieth century. However, due to a number of factors impacting the continent(the end of colonialism and the subsequent waves of anti-colonialism, the 'predicted' expansion of Christianity and rise in church growth, along with the emergence of high level training institutions and a well educated Christian leadership), new attitudes, procedures and structures have emerged. There has been a very noticeable power shift as expatriate-dominated translation projects have given way to African-directed ones. Not surprisingly, such radical change presents tremendous challenges and cannot occur without some degree of conflict.

This paper focuses on a specific translation project in Côte d'Ivoire, the Baoule Bible, begun by American missionaries in the 30's (giving rise to a succession of New Testament versions), a project which continued on from 1960's, in collaboration with UBS and the Alliance biblique de Côte d'Ivoire, culminating in the 1998 publication of a very popular and widely used Baoule Bible. Today a revision of that Bible is almost completed, along with a mother tongue study Bible, the first of its kind in the country. In this paper, we will examine shifts which have occurred as indigenous translators' profiles, training and status have changed, as well as the impact of such shifts on the translation itself.

The translation has obligatorily moved from a rather strict evangelical perspective to a wide inter-confessional one. As the translation becomes more community-oriented, translation style has radically changed, moving away from a free dynamic style to renderings closer to the source. At times, team knowledge of literary stylisics has led to an improved translation. Metaphors which were not permitted in the first Bible (God is 'rock'), due to the potential of cultural mismatch, are now judged admissible. Issues of foreignization and domestication are carefully weighed. How do translation agents (translators, exegetes, consultants, sponsoring organizations) "live" these numerous changes? What tensions arise between the community's desires and vision and the publisher's need for international quality standards?

A history of this project is traced, concentrating on the impact of social change on the inner workings of the translation team and the impact of these shifts on the translation itself.

Bionote: Lynell Marchese Zogbo has a PhD in Linguistics from UCLA (1979). She taught linguistics at the University of Ilorin and San Jose State University. She served as Bible Translation Consultant 1986-2013 with the United Bible Societies and as professor in the Department of Translation, FATEAC, Cote d'Ivoire. She is presently a research associate and visiting lecturer at the University of the Free State (South Africa)

Concluding comments and discussion

Title: Future Innovation in Bible Translation

Speaker: Jacobus A. Naudé

Bionote: Jacobus Naudé (University of the Free State) is a member of the Afrikaans Bible translation project and serves on the advisory board of the Handbook of Translation Studies. He edited Contemporary Translation Studies and Bible Translations (2002), Language Practice: One Profession; Many Applications (2007), Socio-constructive Language Practice: Training in the South African Context (2008), Bible Translation and the Indigenous (2009).


Back to top


Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2015 11:02

Hu Zhuanglin Distinguished Translator Fellowship

In honour of Professor Hu Zhuanglin and his extraordinary contribution to Australian studies from the late 1970s, the Australian Studies Centre at Peking University (PKUASC) has established a Distinguished Translator Fellowship in his name, with the view of promoting Chinese translation in the field of Australian Studies.

The closing date for the 2014 Fellowship applications is July 31.

Literary Translation from the Cultural Margins: Fields of Political Intervention
Guillermo Badenes, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina:

This panel aims at studying the translation problems presented by literary texts belonging to the cultural margins in order to assess the strategies used by the translators of those texts regarding the preservation of their inherent cultural values, evaluating the effect of these translations as vehicles of cultural expression.

The panel has been divided into five sessions to organize the ideas underlying the panel. Thus, Session One takes the example of translation policies into Russian in different contemporary historical periods to pose key questions such as what are the reasons for literary works by certain authors to be translated and how these criteria may change, thus setting the tone and posing many of the questions that will cross the different presentations. Session Two presents ideas regarding translation done when national and racial identity come into play studying the translator as a visible, subjective individual, subverting years of so-called invisibility. Later, Session Three and Session Four present similar perspectives as regards sex and gender and exploring strategies used by different translators in the creation of sexual minorities. Session Five will observe how literary translation from the cultural margins may spill out into other social areas where marginal identity comes into conflict with hegemonic ideas.

In this way, the preoccupation for the recuperation of silenced voices belonging to the cultural margins or the denouncement of agents for silencing these voices spring as the main concerns throughout the presentations. Thus, the first four sections, Choices, Nation and Race, Sex and Gender, offer a survey of the status quo in different parts of the world, while Outbound, the last section, revises the manner in which ideas born in literary translation may spill out into other realms of society.


For informal enquiries: [guillermobadenesATflDOTuncDOTeduDOTar]

Guillermo Badenes


Prof. Guillermo Badenes (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba) is an instructor and researcher in Córdoba, where he teaches Literary Translation and Translation of the Humanities at undergraduate and graduate levels. As a researcher, he directs the research project "Literary Translation from the Cultural Margins: Fields of Political Intervention". He has published translation theory (Traducción periodística y literaria) and translated anthologies such as El viejo sofá azul, Voces del norte and Qué onda Canadá. His numerous academic studies have been published in Argentina and abroad. Prof. Badenes is an active advocate for the recuperation of silenced voices in literature.




PART 1: Choices

INTRODUCTION (10 minutes)

Title: Literary Translation in the 21st Century: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants or Dwarfs?

Convenor: Guillermo Badenes

PART 2: Nation and Race


Title: Rafael Barrett about the mate tea plantations: Speak for the other in my language?

Speaker: Eleonora Barretto, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina


Title: Aiming (For) Translation

Speaker: Nicole Nolette, University of Ottawa

PART 3: Sex


Title: Translation at the Crossroads of a National Literature: The Case of Woolf, Borges and Ocampo

Speaker: Josefina Coisson, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba


Title: Translating sexual violence at wartime in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region: a minority within the minority Poets

Speaker: Anissa Daoudi, University of Birmingham

PART 4: Gender


Title: As Queer as Queer Can Be? William Burroughs' Novella through Rose-Tinted Glasses

Speaker: Guillermo Badenes, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

WRAP-UP SECTION (10 minutes)

Title: Literary Translation as Political Activism: The End of Invisibility?

Convenor: Guillermo Badenes


Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2015 10:46

 Translation and development

Panel Convenors: Kobus Marais, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa:

Recent decades have seen criticism levelled against the reductionist project in Western scholarship. In the search for a solution to the perceived impasse, semiosis, complexity and emergence have been introduced as possible avenues by which to deal with the perceived limitations of reductionism. At the same time, it has become common place to talk about the sociological turn in translation studies. This development, which started with sociolinguistic approaches to translation in the 1960s and which included pragmatic, cultural, and ideological approaches to translation studies, is aimed at liberating translation studies from the confines of a narrow linguistic perspective to include the whole of social reality in its purview. In the current sociological debate in translation studies, the focus is on the agency of translators, i.e. the way in which translators contribute towards the creation of the various domains of society.

Recent advances in translation studies have focussed on geopolitical factors that influence translation practices. This will open the door to study third-world or developing contexts and the relationship between translation and development, i.e. both the developmental role played by translation as well as developmental contexts as a factor in translation. If it is true that societies emerge from the linguistic interactions of individuals, it means that issues of development have a semiosic substratum that links to translation in multilingual situations.

In light of the above, the overarching question is the following:

How is one to conceptualise the relationship between translation and society and, in particular, developing society?

Related questions entail the following:

· How does the notion of development relate to translation, i.e. is a development context a factor in translation? If so, how is this relationship to be conceptualised, and what are the implications for translation theory and for the education of translators in such contexts?

· How does the notion of translation relate to notions of development, i.e. what role does, can, or should translation and translation studies play in development as a social ideal?

· Can the same claims about the construction of culture through literary translation by, for example, Gentzler and Bandia be made for the construction of social reality through communicative texts in developing contexts?

· What new vistas does the notion of development open for translation and translation studies? For one, how would translation practices in the informal sector of the economy differ from those in formal sectors of the economy?

Far from being parochial, these questions feed into pressing global debates such as the power differentials between developed and developing parts of the world, the negotiation of ideas when they travel and when they interact with contexts in which they did not originate, cultural translation and the representation of the Other, notions of post- and neo-colonialism, and the foundational role of human interaction and semiosis in all of the above.


For informal enquiries: [jmaraisATufsDOTacDOTza]


 Kobus Marais is an associate professor in translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature. His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses. He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.





Each paper is allocated with a 20 minutes time slot + 10 minutes discussion.
Discussion time:
- at the end of each paper


Title: Translation and development: Setting the scene
Speaker: Kobus Marais, University of the Free State

Abstract: 10 minutes introduction

Bionote: Kobus Marais is an associate professor of translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature.
His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses.
He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.

Title: Translation, translation studies and development: Widening our worlds
Speaker: José Lambert (CETRA, KULeuven; PGET/UFSC, Brazil), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: Academic disciplines as well as universities have a certain autonomy in the definition of their goals and priorities, which explains their shifts in terms of time and space as well as their lack of homogeneity. Hence translation scholars have their responsibilities, in terms of globalization. Our question in this panel might indeed be what kind of models for development will be adopted. This sounds like a scary issue for a field of expertise where literature and language, in European environments, tended to provide the dominant background until the 1980s.

In a few decades, various particular traditions have developed, from translation training to linguistic, literary and cultural models, etc. According to Pym, the well-known Holmes model, later worked out by Toury, was the only explicit attempt to meet the standards of academia. This makes us assume that the academic dynamic was weaker than the external dynamic. Indeed, external forces such as internationalization (after World War II) and then globalization (at the end of the 20th century) seem to have been decisive. The diplomatic selection of a name in the new lingua franca has certainly favored the illusion of consistency. Illusion? Even within the bibliography in English, one and the same name does not guarantee one and the same nature of Translation Studies (TS). Translation training has joined various options for academic research. So far the institutional power remains mainly located within the language departments, notwithstanding the many "turns" experienced over, say, twenty years. The late discovery of sociological turns, amongst others, is surprising given the idea, since the 1970's, that research on translation ought to be research about norms.

TS seems to share with many other disciplines its search for stability: in terms of internal dynamics, first of all, since turning around is no symptom of continuity and certainly in terms of relations with several neighbour (?) departments (linguistics, communication, literary and cultural studies, psychology, sociology, technology, philosophy, etc.). Bibliographical and conceptual interaction does not really circulate, not even between several departments where languages, communication and translation are at stake. In terms of mobility, the sudden and spectacular participation of new continents and new people involve the establishment of new centers and networks. While universities in general tend to be absorbed by "global" ranking, communication and other marketing currents, TS can hardly function as an autonomous resource. Whether it will be enrolled as a service by and for stronger neighbours or as an active partner in organization and decision issues will obviously not be a matter for academia only. The main obstacle seems to be that so far TS has cut off itself from obvious and strong partnerships both within academia and within the real everyday world: in the 1950s, TS has started in business and in organizations, but nowadays the discipline still belongs to ancient worlds. This paper seeks to address these issues conceptually in order to link translation studies (again) to current reality.

Bionote: José Lambert is professor emeritus at KULeuven in romance philology, comparative literature and theoretical studies. Long before functioning as ICLA's European secretary, he played a role in the development of translation studies, first with James Holmes and Gideon Toury, particularly as the organizer of the influential Leuven conference on Literature and Translation and then when creating in the same year CETRA (first called CERA Chair, a research training center and Target. Beyond particular initiatives in the institutionalization of the discipline, he struggled for interdisciplinarity and for a real globalization. Since 2011, he has been a professor at Florianópolis, Brazil (PGET at UFSC).

Title: Translation and development: A multinational company (MNC) in a BRICS country
Speaker: Jean-François Brunelière (PGET/UFSC/BRAZIL), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The relevance of companies and of their communication as a strategic component of "real" (social, economic, cultural) life is nothing new for Translation Studies (TS). This was one of the axioms of translation theories and training after World War II, but some translation scholars from the age of globalization seem to have forgotten their origins. For a new branch of the discipline focusing on the relationship between translation and development, the specific case of MNCs entering emergent markets (e.g. the BRICS countries) offers clear indications of how translation, local economic development and the knowledge economy are linked. In Brazil, the government made a considerable effort to encourage foreign automotive manufacturers to invest in innovation and, ultimately, to produce locally.

Inevitably, technology transfer between foreign countries and Brazil involve the use of different languages – hence, the advent of translation. This interactive channel has an overt impact on local economic development – in terms of employment, formation and language/cultural contact. PSA Peugeot Citroën, the MNC we have chosen to observe, relies on more than 5,000 employees in Brazil and operates two local plants and one research and design unit. Even though PSA claims to use "one" corporate language at management level worldwide, it sounds rather unlikely that all employees involved in the industrial production process communicate through this lingua franca in all situations. One can say that, for companies of such magnitude, translation is among the cornerstones of both production and communication.

Owing to techniques developed within Toury's Descriptive Translation Studies – such as macro/micro level and synchronic/diachronic analysis – and using the company's discourse designed for different audiences (investors, press, clients) – largely available on the Internet – it is possible to approach the polysystems at work and identify some basic trends in the translations circulating in Brazil – e.g. in terms of directionality, norms and dominant positions (centers/peripheries). As both diversity and recurrent schemes come to the forefront, one realizes that the complexity of external and internal factors – just as the variety of agents participating in the translation process – must be taken into consideration. Depending on where a specific vehicle is produced and how the international communication campaign is designed, Brazilian members of the local marketing team might instigate their headquarter colleagues to privilege the local consumers' taste, for example, allowing new translation patterns to emerge. MNCs, driven by their rather besetting preoccupation with market and economic performance, often reshape the existing interrelationship between state, economy and society; such dynamics illustrate principles stressed by Walter Ong and in many books on the mobility of communication, but never applied to translation, and still less to business translation should no longer be overlooked in Development and Translation Studies.

Bionote: Jean-François Brunelière is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'Etat ("National Civil Engineering School of Lyon"), France, where he also worked for eight years as an engineer. He is currently living in Brazil and is taking a PhD in Translation Studies at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis. His project is on language management and translation in multinational companies. He is currently focusing on French car manufacturers in Brazil. His academic adviser is Translation Studies specialist José Lambert.

Title: Theoretical background for studying innovation issues in translation-service activities
Speaker: KUŹNIK, Anna, PhD, Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Poland, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The aim of my communication is to present a theoretical background and the pilot-study findings of my current post-doctoral research that I am carrying out in the Institute of Romance Philology, Unity of Translation Studies, University of Wrocław. The theoretical stage will be completed at the beginning of 2015, and the first empirical data (pilot study) will be collected in May and June 2015.
In this study, I touch upon the issue of translation approached from the translation studies, social and economic angles. What is in the centre of my interests is translation and, in particular, the questions about its essence, variety of forms, limits and surrounding in modern understanding, reception and service practice in the Republic of Poland. I focus on the translation service providers, irrespective of language combinations. The object of my research is the following three aspects: the conceptualisation of translation, the configuration of translation service activities and its innovative potential. My main research hypothesis is that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between all the three aspects of the translation service activities within a single translation service provider. This means that it is possible to observe that a broad understanding of translation determines a broad configuration of services and has an impact on the level of the innovative potential. A narrow understanding of translation determines the restricted configuration of services and has an impact on the level of the innovative potential, resulting in a tendency towards a low innovative potential. In my approach, I understand the concept of development as a specific process of evolution of the translation service activities, from its current form to a future, more efficient and competitive one.
Firstly, in my communication, I focus on the theoretical background of my research, approached from the fields of management, organisational studies and translation studies. I will try to answer the following three questions:
1. Are the general definitions of innovation, well known in the field of management and organisational studies, are applicable to translation service activities?
2. To what extend are the main typologies of innovation, namely the OECD typology (product innovation, process innovation, organizational innovation and marketing innovation) and the "4Ps" model (product innovation, process innovation, position innovation and paradigm innovation) developed by Bessant and Tidd (2007) useful for studying translation service activities?
3. Are all the traditional (object-based) and new forms of measuring innovation (subject-based approaches) possible and efficient in the case of the translation service activities?

Secondly, I present the results of my pilot study carried out with two translation service providers based in the city of Wroclaw (Poland). In the pilot stage, I take into account two respondents' profiles: (1) translation companies with Polish capital and (2) translation companies which are the representatives of foreign mother companies (in their cases, the indicators of innovation can be shaped differently).

Bionote: Anna Kuźnik is a graduate of Romance philology from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow (Poland), a Master degree in Ibero-American Linguistics and Literature from the Caro and Cuervo Institute in Bogota (Colombia), she was awarded a PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2010. She is now working as a senior lecturer at the Institute of Romance Philology, University of Wrocław (Poland). Her research interests are focused on the following topics: work organization in translation services; knowledge transfer from universities into translation services; and work content of translators' jobs.


Title: Exploring the genesis of Arabic fiction translation into English: A sociological account

Speaker: Abdel Wahab Khalifa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Abstract: English translations of texts associated with Arabic fiction remain largely unexplored from a sociological perspective. Research on the translations of Arabic fiction into English has mainly focused on the linguistics of translation. However, the network of sociocultural factors conditioning the production, consumption, and circulation of these translations appears to have been largely overlooked within scholarly discourse. Hence, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's sociology, this paper sets out to examine the genesis of translating Arabic fiction into English as a socially situated activity.

Works of Arabic fiction emerged in English translation in the early twentieth century. In his chronological bibliography of Arabic fiction in English translation, Altoma argues that there are three identifiable thresholds or "phases" within the history of translating Arabic fiction into English (i.e., the initial phase, the expanding phase and the post-Nobel phase). This paper challenges and reconstructs this argument, putting forward alternative dates for the processes of development identified by Altoma and a Bourdieusian analysis of the dynamics of translation in the phases he suggested. The paper culminates by arguing for the recognition of a fourth phase, which could be referred to as the post 9/11 phase, and will also investigate its agents and dynamics.

Since the field of Arabic fiction translation into English is subject to both internal and external factors – including geopolitical and sociocultural events – which (trans)form and condition its structure and dynamics, this paper attempts to provide insights on overlooked aspects of the four distinct, though overlapping, phases identified above. This is done insofar as they have affected the field's structure, capital at stake, agents involved, modes of production used and the amount of activity within the field. Thus, in contrast to the linear understanding of the history of Arabic fiction translation and informed by a bibliography of translated Arabic fiction into English which I have compiled, this paper makes use of Bourdieu's concepts of field and capital as analytical tools to both describe and interpret the complexity of the translation activity taking place in this field of cultural production.

Bionote: Abdel Wahab Khalifa is a double major doctoral candidate at the Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) and the Centre for Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (AIMES) at the University of Leeds. He has a BA and a PGDip in English Language and Literature from Tanta University, and an MPhil in Translation and Intercultural Studies from the University of Salford. Among other publications, he is the editor of Translators have their say? Translation and the power of agency (2014). His research interests include the sociology of translation; translation historiography; translation motivation as well as literary criticism and Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern cultural and literary histories.

Title: Translation as an agent for development communication in sub-Saharan Africa
Speaker: Mwamba Chibamba, PhD candidate, University of Ottawa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The notion of development has been a rather polemical as the evolution of the discipline through the years has shown. Scholars such as Dwivedi and Nef, among others, have argued that most of the theories that inform development administration as a discipline are largely Western, and as such, do not adequately explain nor provide solutions to developmental issues for peripheral regions of the world with very different contexts. Despite their differences, earlier theories of development such as modernization, dependency and neo-liberalism have been criticized for focusing on economic growth as the major indicator of development as opposed to more current indicators such as those encompassed in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Reports and Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's capability approach, which are centered more on the individual.

Development has been one of the top priorities of African governments since independence. Achieving it sometimes hinges on the extent to which development communication is successful. Development communication is thus an important tool in facilitating development, and it equally requires a context-specific approach. Suffice it to say that translation and communication could play an important role in the implementation and successful delivery of development programs.

It is against this backdrop that this paper seeks to highlight the role of translation in development communication in some countries of sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Zambia and Kenya). Given Africa's diversity, it is imperative that development communication on issues such as child nutrition and immunization and the prevention of diseases ranging from malaria to HIV and AIDS, which, for the most part, is produced either in the West or in European languages, is localized. The study aims to explore some of the translation practices and innovative ways in which developmental messages have been delivered, such as through the use of drama and mass media. It will also explore some of the ways in which translators have dealt with the question of specialized terminology (for example medical terms) that have no equivalent in local languages or are considered as taboo subjects. The paper will analyse some of the context-specific dynamics that could affect communication such as multilingualism, orality and the disparate literacy levels and diverse cultures. In discussing translation as a mediating force between cultures, Bernacka points out that "Translations can therefore have a distinct effect on how global and human rights issues can be conveyed and communicated".

It is expected that this paper will give an insight into how translation facilitates communication in development. It is also expected that the paper will demonstrate that context matters when it comes to the delivery of any kind of information.

Bionote: Mwamba Chibamba is currently pursuing a doctorate in translation studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include translation in Africa, postcolonialism, African affairs as well as global affairs.

Title: We have never been un(der)developed: Translation and the biosemiotic foundation of being in the global south
Speaker: Kobus Marais, Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, University of the Free State, South Africa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: Development studies in general and development theory in particular face serious problems. Not only is the development project itself problematic for ideological and practical reasons, but scholarly thinking about development also faces serious problems. The most prominent current theories of development are trying to find the foundation of development theory in theories of justice and human rights. Though these theories are making an important contribution towards the debate on development theory, they seriously lack in one regard. None of them regard language in general and multilingualism in particular as relevant factors in development. What is more, none of them consider semiosis, i.e. the ability of living organisms to create meaning, as a factor of development.

In this paper, I intend to go deeper than merely considering the linguistic and translational (proper) foundation of development. By building on theories of biosemiotics and intersemiosic translation, I shall consider the biosemiotic foundation of what is these days called 'development'. In its link to Lotman's theory of semiotic universe, the argument pertains to the ability of living organisms to respond to an environment by creating meaningful responses to that environment (semiosis). The argument also considers translation as focussing on the process nature of semiosis, thus explaining the continuous creative ways in which living organisms and groups of organisms respond to the challenges of their environment and in which they construct these response to create what we call culture and/or society.

The aim of the paper is to argue that translation studies have been too narrowly 'cultural' and 'linguistic' in its view of translation. If translation is expanded, through a biosemiotic conceptualisation of translation, to include the material conditions of semiosis, it will allow translation scholars to contribute at a much wider scale to the debate on 'development'. Also, it could lead to a more solid theoretical foundation of development itself. The paper thus entails a conceptualisation, relating its thesis to a debate with current literature in translation studies, semiotics and development studies.

Bionote: Kobus Marais is an associate professor in translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature.
His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses.
He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.

Title: Translation and development: Rounding up
Speaker: All participants and audience
Abstract: 30 minutes concluding discussion

Back to top


Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2015 11:03

Performativity and Translation Studies:
Dennitza Gabrakova, City University of Hong Kong,
Douglas Robinson, Hong Kong Baptist University,
John Milton, University of São Paulo, Brazil,

As Cristina Marinetti argues, "The concept of performativity itself has yet to be fully articulated in relation to translation"; indeed, performativity has only recently begun to cross paths with Translation Studies, particularly with a focus on the translator's agency or identity and on translation as embodied epistemologies and aesthetics.

Performativity intersects with Translation in various ways: Sherry Simon (1998) and Edwin Gentzler (2008) discuss adopting a performative perspective "especially in relation to unpacking notions of identity". Douglas Robinson discusses the "performative linguistics of translation", that is, "translating as 'doing', doing something to the target reader". He also mentions "Translating as colonizing, or as fighting the lingering effects of colonialism; translating as resisting global capitalism, translating as fighting patriarchy, as liberating women (and men) from patriarchal gender roles (...) the translator as a doer, an actor on variously conceived cultural, professional, and cognitive stages" (Robinson 2003).

A recent special issue of Target (25:3) was dedicated to the role of translation and performativity in the theatre, and a colloquium organized by the proposers of the present panel in Hong Kong in January 2014 discussed "Performativity and Translation". Most of the papers examined aspects of performativity in theatre translation, a starting point for evaluating the innovative potential of Performativity as a productive rather than a merely reproductive force in other areas of Translation Studies. The Hong Kong colloquium attracted interest from scholars who demonstrated genuine enthusiasm and creativity in approaching this new topic and generating cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural dialogues. The present panel will be a natural continuation of this on-going discussion.

Possible research areas are: Dubbing and Subtitling, where the on-screen words or those the actors mouth reperform, closely or not so closely, those of the original; the Translator's Preface and other paratexts, which introduce a second performance to the original, supporting, contradicting, directing, or diverting the reader from the original text; Natural Translation, where, within the immigrant family, the language performance skills of the child may give them enormous power; translation for a specialized audience such as children or the deaf, where the translation must perform a role to construct a specific relationship; Interpreting Studies, where the neutrality of the interpreter comes into question.

Such intersections of performativity with Translation and Interpretation Studies will open up new perspectives on the role and practice of translation as an integral part of the performativity of culture on multiple levels: ethnicity, race, marginalization, generation, and gender, as well as the performativity of cross-cultural dynamics.



For informal enquiries: [jmiltonATuspDOTbr]



Dennitza Gabrakovais Assistant Professor in Japanese Studies at City University of Hong Kong. She is interested in the rhetoric of translation in connection to Postcolonial Studies and cultural identity. Currently Dennitza is working on a project related to the translation of (Postcolonial) theory into Japanese as a social and cultural intervention.


Robinson before HKBU fountain 2012

Douglas Robinson is Chair Professor of English and Dean of Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University and author of The Translator's Turn, Translation and Taboo, Translation and Empire, Becoming a Translator, What Is Translation?, Who Translates?, Performative Linguistics (the relevant predecessor for his talk here), Translation and the Problem of Sway, and Schleiermacher's Icoses, and editor of Western Translation Theory from Herodotus to Nietzsche. His forthcoming books include Semiotranslating Peirce and The Dao of Translation. He is currently at work on a translation of Finland's greatest novel, Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers (1870).



miltonJohn Milton is Titular Professor, University of São Paulo, Brazil, teaching English Literature at undergraduate level and Translation Studies at M.A. and Ph. D. He is also the Coordinator of the M.A. and Ph.D. programmes in Translation Studies. His main academic interest is in the theory, history, sociology and politics of translation and has published several books in Brazil and edited Agents of Translation, John Benjamins, 2009. He has also published many articles in Brazil, and in Target and The Translator, and translated poetry from Portuguese into English, and, together with Alberto Marsicano, Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley into Portuguese. 



Introduction: Dennitza Gabrakova


PAPER 1 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion

Performativity and Translation ethics in multicultural theatre
Cristina Marinetti

As a profoundly hermeneutic practice, involving interpretation alongside choice and representation, translation brings to the fore the ethical dimension of cross-cultural encounters. Although rich in a variety of positions – from relativity (Pym, 2002) to intervention and resistance (Venuti, 2007) – debates over the ethics of translation have traditionally been based on discussions of translation as a primarily textual and subsequently social phenomenon (Buzelin, 2006), where cultural representations are negotiated, preserved and changed through a series of interventions mappable onto texts and paratexts and more recently onto enquiries into the translator's unconscious (Venuti, 2012). In this paper, I intend to explore the question of translation ethics not from a textual or social but from a performative perspective, looking at instances where translation occurs not in the written text or in the negotiations around a written text, but in the process of devising and enacting a performance. My research on the performance aesthetics of Italian multicultural company Teatro delle Albe and suggests that a different set of variables are at play when translation occurs not 'on the page' but 'on the stage' and in this paper I intend to articulate, with the help of insights from research on ethics in intercultural performance (Ridout 2009, Barucha 2004), how they relate to and possibly even challenge existing models of translation ethics.

Barucha, 2004 Theatre and the World: Performance and the Politics of Culture. London: Routledge. Buzelin, 2006 'Translation Ethnography and the Production of Knowledge'. St Piere ed. In Translation: Reflections, Refractions andTransformations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Ridout, 2009 Theatre and Ethics. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Venuti, 2007 'Translation, Simulacra and Resistance' Translation Studies 1 (1). Venuti, 2012 Translation Changes Everything. London: Routledge.

Cristina Marinetti is Lecturer in Translation Studies at Cardiff University and director of the Translation Programme. Her primary area of research is translation studies but I also have a strong interest in theatre history and theatre practice. She has published on translation theory in relation to identity and performance, on drama and multimedia translation and on the interface between translation theory and practice. Her research is comparative in nature and combines historical/cultural analysis with reflections on her own translation practice.

PAPER 2 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion
Issues in the Performative Turn
Scott Williams 

The performative turn in Translation Studies builds on the many other developments in the field over the last decades. The notions of performance and performativity are key in examining translations across genres, from drama to the oral tradition and localization. Working mainly with translations to and from German, we will consider several issues. The performative turn demands that we correlate theatre translation with other types of rewriting. Connecting theatre and the oral tradition of the epic, for instance, also highlights the influence of physicality; for instance, in terms of sound ("speakability" is a recurrent issue in theatre translation). A fairly recent translation of Homer's epics (by Raoul Schrott) illustrates the cross-over of genres that can constitute the totality of rewriting. Thus the translation was commissioned for a radio performance and also appeared as written publication in conjunction with yet another book by the translator proposing a new theory of the Iliad's origins. The entire production taken collectively represents the multiplicity of rewriting as action. The necessity of negotiation is important in any stage production (e.g., of German drama) but also in website creation. Thus the collective input into English productions of the Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt parallels the various players in, for instance, website productions. Indeed, the internet provides a different stage upon which even Homer can be enacted. Thus a format that emphasizes textuality above orality can still perform a text, as Walter Grond attempted with Homer's Odyssey. Grond (Absolut Homer) challenged twenty-two authors to rewrite parts of the Odyssey. Although now in book form, it was originally a piece of concept art in which the various texts were online with key phrases hyperlinked to passages by the other authors. Thus each reading depended on the reader physically manipulating the mouse to click on whichever linked phrase was most appealing. Since each reader each time may link to different texts, every reading experience became a different 'odyssey.' Different authors wrote the text, but someone also had to decide which phrases to link, just as someone had to write the code and maintain the site. Some might restrict the association with performance to only theatre translation; but by sketching out the parallels between theatre translation and other rewritings one can better appreciate the scope of the performative turn.

Scott G. Williams (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin) has published translations of over 20 contemporary German-language authors. He has written articles on, for instance, computer assisted language learning, the modern reception of Greco-Roman antiquity, and the application of translation theory to the study of modern literature. He is currently working on issues of translation and performance.

PAPER 3 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion

From Performance Studies to Translation Studies: Translations Performed in Brazil: Anchieta, the Minas Conspiracy, and Monteiro Lobato
John Milton

In the Introduction to The Performance Studies Reader Richard Schechner stresses the need to broaden Performing Arts curricula to examine "how performance is used in politics, medicine, religion, popular entertainments, and ordinary face-to-face interactions" (p.8), analysing the relationships between authors, performers, directors, and spectators. This panel adds Translation and Interpretation to Schechner's list, seeing translators and interpreters as performers of a text authored in a different language, and whose audience, in the case of most translations, or broadcasted Interpreting, is largely unknown, though Interpreting includes a large number of situations, including the very theatrical and performative Consecutive Interpreting.

In the same volume, Marvin Carlson complements Schechner: "With performance as a kind of critical wedge, the metaphor of theatricality has moved out of the arts into almost every aspect of modern attempts to understand our condition and activities, into almost every branch of the human sciences – sociology, anthropology, ethnography, psychology, linguistics" (p.74).

In this presentation I follow Schechner and Carlson and take performativity and theatricality into the realm of Translation Studies, more specifically three studies I have made, and re-examine them from the perspective of Performativity. Firstly, the translations, or rather, adaptations of the plays of the Portuguese dramatist, Gil Vicente, into the indigenous Brazilian language, Tupi, by the Jesuit missionary José de Anchieta (1534-1597) in Brazil in the 16th century, with the intention of catechising the Brazilian Indians into Catholicism. In which ways did Anchieta translate and perform these translations, and how were they presented to the Tupi Indians? And how can Performativity Studies help us to understand these works?

Secondly, I examine the performative elements of translation in the Minas Conspiracy [Inconfidência Mineira], the thwarted revolution in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in 1789. The role of the main figures, the Ensign, or Second Lieutenant, Tiradentes [Tooth-Puller], and the poets, Clãudio Manuel da Costa, and Tomás Gonzaga, have been performed in different ways, according to historical and ideological interpretations of the Conspiracy. And the iconic copy of Claude Ambroise Régnier's Recueil des Lois Constitutives, which enabled the rebels to become familiar with the constitution of the United States and the laws of the 13 states, is now on show in Ouro Preto as a central property of the Conspiracy.

Last, but not least, I analyse the retelling of Peter Pan (1930), by the Brazilian writer and translator José Bento de Monteiro Lobato (1889-1945), especially well-known for his children's fiction: Grandmother Dona Benta retells the story to the children and dolls of the Yellow Woodpecker Farm, and through her insertions and the questions and the comments of the children and dolls, Lobato is able to include critiques of the contemporary Brazilian economic situation and the dictatorship of the populist president, Getúlio Vargas. Copies of Lobato's Peter Pan were even confiscated and destroyed in the state of São Paulo. Thus Lobato's translation is reperforming Barrie's original, and changing the place of enunciation from Barrie to Lobato.

John Milton is Titular Professor, University of São Paulo, Brazil, teaching English Literature at undergraduate level and Translation Studies at M.A. and Ph. D. He is also the Coordinator of the M.A. and Ph.D. programmes in Translation Studies. His main academic interest is in the theory, history, sociology and politics of translation and has published several books in Brazil and edited Agents of Translation, John Benjamins, 2009. He has also published many articles in Brazil, and in Target and The Translator, and translated poetry from Portuguese into English, and, together with Alberto Marsicano, Keats, Wordsworth and Shelley into Portuguese.


PAPER 4 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion
Pragmatic texts and notions of performativity
Candace Séguinot 

The concept of performativity has been related both to the linguistic notion of performatives (Robinson, 2006), and translational discussions of agency and (in)visibility (Simeoni: 1998 , and Venuti: 2008). The introduction of the former as a property of utterances came to be extended to linguistic interaction and the assumptions about communicating that underlie them. The latter have recently shifted from a consideration of the rights and obligations of the translator to an original author or to an internalized professional and social role to the intervention of translators as social actors and activists both inside of and outside of what has traditionally been called translation. This traditional or as it has been called narrow view of translation in the call for papers for the 2015 conference Translation and the Many Languages of Resistance ( has a complement called broad characterized by mediation in which there may not be more than one language involved, or indeed any language at all.

In just such a way the evolution of the notion of performativity can help us revisit certain aspects of pragmatic translation. This paper will discuss three areas in particular. The first is the reduced agency in the value-added aspects of the translator's role in the language industries compared to knowledge mobilization. Knowledge translation in particular has been defined as "... a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically-sound [ emphasis mine] application of knowledge..." in the health fields (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2000, The transforming of information to make it available to the public used to be based on rhetorical principles, ie the form of argumentation, the use of the second person, etc. Today the recognition of the importance of emotions in decision-making means that audiences are no longer seen as homogeneous, and translators are not constrained by texts to produce texts. Further, even the production of texts in traditional professional translation is being rethought to improve performability as content managers look for ways to analyse and organize language-independent content.

This leads to the question of what cognitively-based observational research can show us about degrees of performativity in the translations themselves and in the agency of the translator.

Candace Séguinot is a Full Professor at the School of Translation at Glendon College, York University, in Toronto, Canada, where she also directs the Program in Technical and Professional Communication. Her research and publications are in the areas of cross-cultural communication, global marketing, theoretical models of the translation process and the nature of professional expertise.

PAPER 5 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion

Translation Acts: Discourse, Performativeness and "Emic" Entities
Lenita Esteves (Submission #117)

Common sense holds that the best translations are those that render the source text faithfully, without any loss in meaning, form or tone. It is also well agreed that the task of producing such a translation, despite being an ideal pursued by many, is impossible. In line with Douglas Robinson's ideas as proposed in "Performative Linguistics" (2003) this paper considers translation performatively, that is, as action. This implies an agent, motives and consequences. The most important corollary of this proposal is an alternative way of seeing the role of translators in society — they start being considered as real mediators, leaving behind their function as mere carriers of ideas and meanings. The Speech Act theory, as proposed by J. L. Austin, will serve as a guideline in the exploration of the concept of translation as action, an act performed in the real world. This performative approach of translation is, in Robinson's words, "interested in actual language use in real-world contexts, in the relationships between actual speakers and writers and actual interpreters, specifically in how humans perform verbal actions and respond to the verbal actions performed by others" (p. 4). This work focuses specifically on the way Austin builds his theorization. In his very peculiar way of making theory, Austin does not advance in a straight line, but in a rather sinuous movement, with many reformulations and new developments. Moreover, Austin's insistence on basing his reflections on "ordinary language", taking into account the circumstances under which utterances are made, will be emphasized, along with his reiterated opinion that philosophy should neither oversimplify its issues nor work based on ideal situations that do not correspond with real life. This paper argues that Austin's theoretical attitude, with its uncertainties and open-ends, is an adequate attitude for translation scholars, who should also work with language in use and delve deeply into issues, avoiding oversimplifications. Kanavillil Rajagopalan (1992) has argued that illocutionary acts are "emic" entities, that is, irreducibly cultural units of analysis. Translation acts will also be analyzed here as "emic" entities that resist strict generalizations. On the other hand, "families" of translation acts will be presented – "families" in the Wittgensteinian sense (1953) — of groups whose elements do not have an essential feature, but rather several overlapping similarities. These families are: Translation as diffusion of knowledge; Translation as immersion in textuality; Translation as enrichment; Translation as political engagement.

Lenita Esteves is Associate Professor of Translation Theory and Practice at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Her main research interests are Translation and Ethics, Historiography of Translation; Translation and Psychoanalysis, and the Reception of Brazilian Literature in the English speaking world.

PAPER 6 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion

Translating theory and the Japanese Postcolonial Refraction
Dennitza Gabrakova

This paper focuses on the significance of translation of theory as an site of intersection of the 1) self-fashioning of a type of performative ethical identity of the Japanese intellectual activist and 2) generation of intellectual perspectives with close affinity to postcolonial critique. After briefly outlining the significance of translation for Japanese modernity, the work of several translators of theory will be discussed against the background of the unilateral flow of ideas and Enlightenment. The study of the creative transformations accompanying the translations of T. Eagleton (Literary Theory), Ed. Said, G. Spivak and J. Derrida provide a unique perspective to the Japanese intellectual as "translator", a complex identity negotiating issues of originality and commitment. The translation of Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory by Ohashi Yoichi in 1985 not only attracted the attention of creative writers critical of the Japanese academic establishment, but resulted in a self-critical parody authored precisely by the translator: Ohashi's New Introduction to Literary Theory: Reading Eagleton's Literary Theory (1995). Another important site of the formation of the Japanese intellectual persona as a figure of responsibility is the work of Motohashi Tetsuya, a prolific translator of literary theory and postcolonial critique. The performativity of Motohashi's translational agenda will be analysed through his attempt at popularizing postcolonial perspectives in combination with a critique of Japanese history in his Postcolonialism (2005). The case of Ukai Satoshi, a translator of Derrida and a scholar with a strong penchant for postcolonial critique is particularly illuminating in the way it flows into Ukai's essentially postcolonial ethics and philosophy of translation. Two additional examples will be Komori Yoichi's ground-breaking work Postcolonial as an epistemological case of translation as reception of theory and Nishiyama Yuji's translation of Derrida combined with his documentary film touring.

Dennitza Gabrakova is Assistant Professor in Japanese Studies at City University of Hong Kong. She is interested in the rhetoric of translation in connection to Postcolonial Studies and cultural identity. Currently Dennitza is working on a project related to the translation of (Postcolonial) theory into Japanese as a social and cultural intervention.



Literary Translation and/as Performance
Sandra Bermann

"Literary Translation and/as Performance"

This paper builds its argument at least in part on my recent article, "Performing Translation," published in 2014 in the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Translation Studies, edited by Catherine Porter and me. In this article, I looked at literary translation from the viewpoint of J.L.Austin's "performative," Jacques Derrida's notions of iterability, and Judith Butler's discussions of gender performativity. Douglas Robinson's work on linguistic performatives and the long and fruitful history of gender studies and translation were also important references. Though I used some literary examples in the course of the essay, it was largely theoretical, meaning to draw in some of the main terms and ideas associated with "performance," "performative" and "performativity" in translation studies. In the paper I propose for this conference, I begin more pragmatically. Here, I examine closely a few examples of literary translation and re-translation in the light of the theoretical concepts analyzed before, but underscoring in a somewhat different way the value of considering translation as a performative act rather than as a reproductive inscription. Reading several translations of Rene Char's Feuillets d'Hypnos, texts dense with allusion as well as with specific historical and political reference, I discuss the ways that different translational "performances" have opened up different interlocutory spaces for engaging audiences and producing new insights. In the process of my analyses, I bring performance and the performative into dialogue with ideas of translatability, untranslatability and ethics raised by Gayatri Spivak in a number of essays and by Emily Apter in her recent Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability. Indeed, viewing translation as performance heightens our awareness of specific choices that the translator makes (consciously and unconsciously) while grappling with different cultural systems, regimes of power, and political, economic and social constraints, and while negotiating daunting linguistic divides. It also reminds us of the powerful role that translation can play within the field of comparative literature, by opening it to the details of difference and the often illuminating difficulties these pose.

Sandra Bermann is Cotsen Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton, where she also serves as Master of Whitman College. Her research and teaching interests include lyric poetry, translation, gender and sexuality, and comparative literature. She is author of The Sonnet Over Time: Studies in the Sonnets of Petrarch, Shakespeare, and Baudelaire; translator of Manzoni's On the Historical Novel; and editor of Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation with Michael Wood, and of A Companion to Translation Studies with Catherine Porter.


Pushing-Hands and Periperformativity
Douglas Robinson

This talk explores the performativity of translation in the context of Martha Cheung's theory of translation as tuishou or "pushing-hands"—the martial arts form of Tai Chi. Specifically, the paper will explore three areas in which Prof. Cheung's formulation of the pushing-hands theory of translation falls into essentializing habits, and offer a performative rereading of those three areas that will seek not to refute her approach but to perfect it: (1) pushing-hands and gender (her focus on yin-gentleness as an essentializingly female foundation for the pushing-hands of translation); (2) pushing-hands and dialogue (her tendency to focus on the translator's unidirectional response to the "incoming force" of the source text, rather than looking at the ongoingness of dialogue); and (3) pushing-hands as (peri)performativity (her tendency to present translation as like pushing-hands as a stable thing, rather than both translation and pushing-hands as a performance—and specifically a way of performing the audience into dialogical participation in the performance).

The talk makes the following claims:

(1) Pushing-hands can be thought of as a gentle, cooperative analogue for a dialogical engagement with an "incoming force," such as a single author or point of view. The implication is that all knowledge is mediated, constructed, and situated.

(2) Pushing-hands can be thought of as a gentle, cooperative analogue for a dialogical engagement with a whole parlor full of internally and externally dialogized viewpoints. The implication is that all knowledge is even more complexly mediated, constructed, and situated than in (1), featuring incoming and outgoing and interactive forces of which we may never become aware.

(3a) The pushing-hands analogue can also be extended to the translator's engagement first with the source author, then with the target reader. The fact that the translator pushes hands with the source author and the target reader in "stealth" mode—pushing hands with the target reader "as" or "through" the "I" of the source author—complicates the pushing-hands model in interesting ways.

(3b) The pushing-hands analogue can be further extended to the scholar's rhetorical engagement with the audience s/he is trying to persuade, making persuasion a pushing-hands encounter in which speaker and listener both participate, reciprocally.

Douglas Robinson is Chair Professor of English and Dean of Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University and author of The Translator's Turn, Translation and Taboo, Translation and Empire, Becoming a Translator, What Is Translation?, Who Translates?, Performative Linguistics (the relevant predecessor for his talk here), Translation and the Problem of Sway, and Schleiermacher's Icoses, and editor of Western Translation Theory from Herodotus to Nietzsche. His forthcoming books include Semiotranslating Peirce and The Dao of Translation. He is currently at work on a translation of Finland's greatest novel, Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers (1870).

PAPER 9 – 20 minutes for presentation + 10 minutes for discussion

A Performative Theory of Translator Style
Gabriela Saldanha (Submission #320)

Drawing on Butler's (1990) performative theory of gender, Harvey (2003: 4) suggests, rather tentatively, the possibilities opened by a performative theory of the translated text as a way of moving beyond an understanding of 'translated texts as caused objects' and towards an understanding of 'translated texts as interfaces' where the problematics of the intercultural crossing is inscribed within their very nature. This understanding of performance and translation resonates with Bhabha's (2007) argument that cultural communication is performative in the sense that it enacts and creates identities, is constructivist rather than essentialist. Underlying these arguments is an understanding of translation as the staging of difference. This paper further develops Harvey's tentative proposal for a performative theory of translation by applying an anthropological understanding of performance, Richard Schechner's (1985) characterisation of performance as restored behaviour, which has also been used to explain theatrical performance, to explain translator's agency, more specifically, what I call 'translator style'. The concept of restored behaviour refers to "the process of framing, editing, and rehearsing; the making and manipulating of strips of behaviour" (Schechenr 1985: 33). Understanding the translator's agency as restored behaviour enables us to conceptualise translator style in a way that is not only reflective, or even interpretative, but constructive. I argue here that in framing, editing and rehearsing the source text, translators are staging differences and creating identities for themselves, the world of the source text and their audiences. This, in turn, enables us to discuss a translator's oeuvre as a coherent body of work which has its own artistic motivating principle. In order to illustrate and support my argument I provide examples of patterns of translation strategies, following the model proposed in Saldanha 2011 for identifying stylistic features in translated texts and then analyse discursive representations of translators' agency. This analysis relies on peritexts produced by translators themselves as well as by professional and non-professional readers, mainly in the form of reviews published on broadsheet newspapers and online. References Bhabha, Homi K. (2007) The location of culture. London: Routledge. Butler, Judith (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London, Routledge. Harvey, Keith (2003) Intercultural Movements: American Gaby in French Translation, Manchester, UK & Northampton, MA: St Jerome. Saldanha, Gabriela (2010) 'Translator style: methodological considerations', The Translator 17(1) 25-50. Schechner, Richard (1985) Between Theatre & Anthropology, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Gabriela Saldanha is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK). She has published extensively on translation stylistics and is the author of Research Methodologies in Translation (Routledge, 2013) together with Sharon O'Brien. She co-edited the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies (Routledge, 2009), together with Mona Baker; and a special issue on 'Global Landscapes of Translation' (Translation Studies, 2013) together with Angela Kershaw. She is also co-editor of New Voices in Translation Studies, InTRAlinea and Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts.

Wrap-up: Douglas Robinson


Back to top


Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2015 11:04

Shakespeare's 'Great Feast of Languages': Contemporary Issues in Shakespeare Translation
Daniel Gallimore, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
Nely Keinanen, University of Helsinki, Finland

Shakespeare remains the preeminent translated playwright around the world, whose apparently unstoppable globalization and localization in traditional and non-traditional formats seem essential to the processes of intercultural communication that underscore translation. This panel will discuss the typical range of problems and opportunities arising from both the original texts and the target languages and cultures which combine to make Shakespeare translation the rich field that it is today. In particular, we will attempt to look beyond traditional notions of equivalence and fidelity by applying contemporary approaches such as post-colonialism and recognizing the flexibility of the translator's role in relation to the theatre. The languages covered are French, Japanese, Finnish, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian, Dutch and Bengali.

For informal enquiries: [gallimoreATkwanseiDOTacDOTjp]

gallimore photo

Daniel Gallimore has been professor of English at Kwansei Gakuin University, near Osaka, since 2011. At Kwansei Gakuin, he teaches a postgraduate course on Shakespeare translation, and previously taught at Japan Women's University, Tokyo, between 2003 and 2011. He was awarded his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2002 for a thesis on Japanese translations of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and has published widely in the field of Shakespeare translation and reception.

keinanen photo1Nely Keinänen teaches English Literature and Translation at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has recently been studying translations of Shakespeare into Finnish, and also translates modern Finnish drama into English.





See other thematic panels


INTRODUCTION: Daniel Gallimore, 'Overview of Current State of Shakespeare Translation in Theoretical Context'



PART ONE: Literary and linguistic nexus



Title: Matsuoka's Four-Letter Words: Expressing the Inexpressible in Contemporary Japanese Shakespeare Translation

Speaker: Daniel Gallimore, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Abstract: Japan has a long history of Shakespeare translation stretching back to the 1880s. Shakespeare translation played a central role in the development of modern Japanese drama in the early 20th century, and since all the dominant translators have been academics (and in some cases directors as well), this role has been defined as authoritative; Shakespeare production in Japan still depends on the translator-teacher's ability to understand Shakespeare's language, but as production standards have risen and Shakespeare's cultural capital grown, there have of course been numerous moments when the focus of authority has shifted perceptibly to the other elements of performance in the semiotic, holistic and socio-cultural paradigms of stage translation. Of course, all Shakespeare translation is by its nature theatrical, but what is meant by this shift is a change from a style of performance that seems to depend on the translated text to one in which the translation looks quite overtly to performance for answers to the questions it itself poses. Perhaps more than any other field of translation, drama translators negotiate a hazardous path between their textual facility and their ignorance of external conditions (in other words, stage performance). Although in fact highly knowledgeable of the theatre, it is this acceptance of the translator's limitations that strikes me first about the work of Matsuoka Kazuko, the leading Shakespeare translator in Japan today and the first woman to have attempted to translate Shakespeare's works into Japanese (having completed thirty to date); Matsuoka has consistently regarded her translations as 'discoveries' that have been subject to considerable change in rehearsal and production, and through which her appreciation of Shakespeare has evolved. My paper will draw on Matsuoka's translations in an attempt to substantiate the paradigmatic shift from both the textual and performative viewpoints. My first task will be to conduct an analysis of Matsuoka's use of yoji jukugo (four-character idiomatic phrases) in her published translation of Hamlet (Chikuma Shobō, 2011), and my second to make a detailed analysis of how these idioms are interpreted in a recent production of Matsuoka's translation directed by Ninagawa Yukio (Hori Pro, 2012). The interest of these idioms as points of reference is that they seldom serve as literal renditions of the source, instead conveying a range of cultural associations that may – depending on context – respond creatively to the rhetoric of Shakespeare's texts. Of course, they are sometimes merely semantic in function, and should be considered alongside the numerous affective expressions (e.g. onomatopoeia) characteristic of modern Japanese. One conclusion may well be is that it is the language itself that forces the translator to breach the gap between text and performance. I will also survey a group of native informants for their responses to Matsuoka's use of yoji jukugo, and so build on my extant research into Matsuoka Kazuko and her theatre as a means of understanding the linguistic and stylistic potential of Shakespeare translation in contemporary Japan.

Bionote: Daniel Gallimore has been professor of English at Kwansei Gakuin University, near Osaka, since 2011. At Kwansei Gakuin, he teaches a postgraduate course on Shakespeare translation, and previously taught at Japan Women's University, Tokyo, between 2003 and 2011. He was awarded his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2002 for a thesis on Japanese translations of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and has published widely in the field of Shakespeare translation and reception.


Title: Translating Shakespeare's Great Feast of Language: A Case Study of Two Finnish Hamlets

Speaker: Nely Keinänen, University of Helsinki, Finland

Abstract: This paper develops my previous study of translations of Hamlet into Finnish. In a previous essay I examined the political, cultural and literary significance of the first translation, done by Paavo Cajander in 1879. At the time, Finnish as a literary language was very young, and Cajander needed to invent words and expressions, and chose to develop a verse form approximating iambic pentameter. His efforts were highly appreciated in his time, with reviewers rejoicing that Finland was now finally joining European civilization as represented by Shakespeare.

In this paper, I shift focus to more aesthetic and literary concerns, examining two recent Hamlet translations, both considered to be exceptionally poetic, by Eeva-Liisa Manner (1981) and Matti Rossi (2013). Manner's translation was initially commissioned by the Tampere Theater, and was later published, while Rossi's was commissioned by WSOY, a leading Finnish publishing company as the final play in its complete works series. Both Rossi and Manner are considered preeminent translators for the stage, and especially Rossi is known as a translator of Shakespeare.

Both Manner and Rossi are also accomplished poets, and their Hamlet translations are dynamic and eminently speakable, displaying superb command of rhythm and verse, effective use of sound devices, and creative solutions to translating Shakespeare's imagery. In other respects, however, the two translations are different: Manner's text is lean and vigorous, full of verbs, and somehow angrier, while Rossi's text is fuller, more lyrical, luxuriating in the abundance of Shakespeare's feast of language.

In bringing these two texts together, I seek not to claim that one is better than the other, but rather to use them to examine the subjective criteria by which 'Shakespeare' translations are assessed in modern Finland, what qualities are claimed to be valued, and what qualities seem actually to be valued if these differ. As material, I will use the reception of these two texts in the Finnish press, as well as surveys of native informants (both theater professionals and not). In addition, I am curious whether there are differences in the features deemed vital for texts written to be read or performed. While these results will not be immediately applicable to translators and theater practitioners in other languages and cultures, I hope that they will nevertheless shed light on ways that aesthetic and stylistic criteria are discussed and evaluated.

Bionote: Nely Keinänen teaches English Literature and Translation at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has recently been studying translations of Shakespeare into Finnish, and also translates modern Finnish drama into English.

PART TWO: Cultural considerations


Title: Old Debts and New Ways – Or Not: The Forking Paths of Shakespeare Translation into Spanish Today

Speaker: Alfredo Michel Modenessi, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Abstract: Ten years ago, making a case against the pointless habit of using (mock) Iberian Spanish to translate Shakespeare in Latin America, I wrote that 'translations of Shakespeare are rarely commissioned, and publishers or directors seldom seek academic advice. Due to budget constraints, honest ignorance or blind trust, most productions rely on translations made in Spain, adapted by directors, actors, or, rarely, playwrights'. Have things changed? Consider:

1. In 1999, the collection 'Shakespeare by Writers' started to commission what would become the first 'Complete Works' printed in Latin America. In 2010, Losada of Argentina completed its own series, combining previous versions with work made to order.

2. Shortly after 2004, I started to steadily receive commissions for stage-productions of Early Modern drama; among them: Arden of Faversham (2005), Marlowe's Edward II (2006), and Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors (2007), Othello (2008), The Tempest (2011), Henry IV, Part 1 (2012, for the 'Globe to Globe, 37/37' festival), Julius Caesar (2013), and Richard III (2014). All involved close collaboration with directors, casts and crews. More importantly, all were made with Mexican norms, and all were successful.

3. By 2008, after twenty-five published texts, the head and heretofore sole translator of the only Spanish complete collection in over fifty years required contributions, first by a Catalonian translator, and then, in 2010, by me, a Mexican. With the release of its third volume ('Histories') in March 2015, the 1920s canon that stemmed from Spain and was traditionally used everywhere in the Spanish-speaking world will be fully replaced. Very importantly, all three translators employed Iberian norms.

4. Of my four translations for this collection, two, The Comedy of Errors and Love's Labour's Lost, I had already translated for the Mexican stages in radically different ways. I have, thus, rendered Shakespeare for both page and stage, into both the Mexican and the Iberian varieties of Spanish, and some plays even twice, in deeply contrasting ways.

Yet, have things changed?

This paper seeks to provide fundamental, first-hand, materials leading to possible answers. Using specific examples to compare and contrast cases from the aforementioned collections, I will discuss and illustrate how, and maybe why, Shakespeare has been more than ever translated into Spanish in recent times, and consequently assess whether the historic scenario of vertically-biased relations between Spain and its former colonies has substantially changed – for better or worse. In the end, the basic questions are if, where, and how, today, the practice of Shakespeare translation into Spanish features creative approaches and solutions effectively contributing to making Shakespeare significant in and for a contemporary context – especially a Latin American one.

Bionote: Alfredo Michel Modenessi is Professor of English and Translation Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and is a stage translator and dramaturge. He has translated and adapted over forty plays, including Othello, Love's Labour's Lost, Julius Caesar, and Henry IV, Part 1 (for the 'Globe to Globe' festival in 2012). He is on the board of The Shakespearean International Yearbook, MIT's 'Global Shakespeares' website, and the University of Barcelona's 1611: A Journal of Translation Studies. He is currently preparing a book on the presence of Shakespeare in Mexican cinema after a sabbatical year at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Title: Translatability of the Religious Dimension in Chinese Translations of The Merchant of Venice

Speaker: Jenny Wong, Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong

Abstract: Political and religious issues within a drama are often the subject of manipulation and re-writing in order to conform to the predominant ideology and socio-cultural conditions. In China, from the late Qing period through to the contemporary Communist era, Christian references in Shakespearean works are often marginalized, if not lost, at the receiving end. In this paper I will attempt to demonstrate that, while translation theorists under the current 'sociological turn' view social factors as principal in determining translation activities and strategies, case studies of theatre translations of The Merchant of Venice in the Greater China reveal a critical interaction between the translator's or dramatist's theology and religious values and the socio-cultural milieu to create unique theatrical productions. Often, as one can see from my case studies, it is the religious values of the translating agents that become central to determining the translation product, rather than social factors. This paper further argues that the translatability of religious discourse should be understood in a broader sense according to the seven dimensions of religion proposed by Ninian Smart, rather than merely focusing on untranslatability as a result of semantic and linguistic differences.

Methodologically, I will first give an historical overview of the translation of religious discourse in The Merchant since the first introduction of Shakespeare in China in the early 20th century. This analysis will be followed by case studies of The Merchant using discourse analysis and a causal model of translation studies proposed by Andrew Chesterman. Following this model, sociological, behavioural and cognitive conditions that give rise to the translation agents' interpretation and translation of religious discourse will be examined. Since this sociological-oriented model assumes the overarching role of social factors in determining translatability, a phenomenological approach will be used to illustrate the interaction between the social factors and individual theology in arriving at a theatre translation. This is achieved by investigating the life world, i.e. the world behind the text of the translating agents. Interviews are conducted with directors and translators of each play to flesh out the situational translation process as well as their hermeneutic process and theological position. In the final analysis, the problems of the translatability of Shakespeare's religious language will be studied based on the expanded notion of religious language drawing on Ninian Smart's model of seven dimensions of religion. Questions of translatability across different time periods and cultures will be discussed. Thus it has been argued that the translatability of religious discourse should be understood in a broader sense according to the seven dimensions proposed by Ninian Smart, rather than merely focusing on untranslatability as a result of semantic and linguistic differences.

Bionote: Jenny Wong was Assistant Professor at BNU-HKBU United International College between 2008 and 2012 prior to which she was teaching media translation and advanced commercial translation at other universities. Her research interests lie in the study of Bible and English literature which grew out of her MA degree in Translating and Interpreting (Newcastle) and PhD in Literature and Theology (Glasgow). She is the founder of SELBL, a non-profit organisation based in Hong Kong that promotes the cultural significance of the Bible among international students. She has recently been appointed Lecturer at Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong.

PART THREE: Performance issues


Title: Cultural Mediation in the House of Molière

Speaker: Stephanie Mercier, University of Poitiers, France

Abstract: The Shakespearian plays performed in France's Comédie Française 2013-2014 season featured Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello. This is an opportune corpus of study in an attempt to conceptualize the translation/adaptation phenomenon as an act of cultural mediation and question the viability of such a concept when placed within the highly institutional framework of 'The House of Molière', in which historical connotations, conventions for language representation, translation and textual norms are commonly held by both stagers and spectators. The powers and pressures of such a venue, which inevitably surround both the translator and adaptor when making language and scenic choices, are thus to be taken into account in this empirical study of texts and contexts. It will be seen that the resulting stagings most often make the most of, but also sometimes misuse, Shakespeare's 'Great Feast of Languages', to the extent that the feast at times morphs into a textual and theatrical fast. In other words, translation and interpretation, when translation becomes an act of reclaiming and recentering of identity, can at times result in linguistic and cultural alienation – especially when potential multilingualism is subjugated for homebred purposes, complex ideas given little time for gestation so that poetry, in the sense of 're-creation', is doomed to become only a vain and distant hope. Despite the unfortunate occasional nationalistic stereotyping however, the unique challenges that staging Shakespeare for a still often neo-classically minded, politically sensitive, French auditorium imply can also bring out the best in translators and directors – if they are willing to cast doubt on the seemingly unswayable dramatic doxa of le français and integrate the ever-malleable prerequisites of fluidity and inventiveness inherent to Shakespearian theatre into their productions. When this happens, the linguistic characteristics of the informing text and its translation can be combined with, not cut off from its dramatic rendering so that the impulse to adapt, derived from a desire to contrast and superimpose, cuts across time, space and cultures to communicate the significance of specific canonical materials, such as those of Shakespeare, from the source to the target. In this respect, and even if the translation/ adaptation process entails experimental performance and re-writing, it still indicates a basic relationship with an informing source text, albeit one achieved in a difference temporal and generic framework. Hence, my analysis will address, and question, the current body of state-funded Shakespeare stagings in France with regards to the specificities – imitational, improvisational and intercultural – of these three productions recently staged at the Comédie Française and their at once divergent, and yet at times equivalent, approach to the concepts of translation and adaptation of Shakespearian drama.

Bionote: Stephanie Mercier is a French/English bi-national agrégée who teaches at the University of Poitiers. She gave papers about Shakespeare translation, adaptation and performance in France, the U.K. and the U.S.A. in 2014 and she also reviews regularly for L'Oeil du Spectateur, on the Poitiers University website, the Cahiers Élisabéthains (Manchester University Press) and on the University of Warwick/Shakespeare Institute's Reviewing Shakespeare. She has published articles about Shakespeare in the Presses Universitaires de Rennes, in the autumn 2014 Oxford University Press online journal English and she is currently conducting research on the commodification of the body in Shakespeare's theatre.


Title: A Mid-Summer African-Brazilian Night's Dream

Speaker: Elizabeth Ramos, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil

Abstract: Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream was staged in a prize-winning adaption by the Brazilian group Bando de Teatro Olodum in 2006. The Band was set as a theatre group in 1990 in Salvador, a Brazilian city where people of African ancestry amount to 80% of the population. The group's mission is to fight discrimination and racism in Brazil, maintaining a contemporary stage language and committed to an articulated drama, which incisively addresses ethnic identity issues in its various possibilities as they emerge from a joyful and entertaining stage atmosphere. The cast is today made up of twenty African-Brazilian actors and actresses under the direction of Márcio Meirelles, a well-known name in the Brazilian theatrical scene. In 2006, the Olodum Theatre Band celebrated sixteen years of popular black theatre by staging A Midsummer Night's Dream in a spicy adaptation, which privileges Bahian cultural references such as dance and music, in their different genres and styles, including African rhythms and percussion, but without losing its bond with the original Shakespearean text. The audience were confronted with an amusing story of matches and mismatches between young African-Athenian lovers, who find adventure in the woods controlled and manipulated by fairies. One of the fairies ends up falling in love with a human on the eve of the marriage of the black skinned couple Theseus and Hippolyta, when Bottom and Flute, along with Peter Quince, Starveling, Snout and Snug, who of course acquire typical local names, will perform 'Pyramus and Thisbe'. Powerful body movements agitate light and colorful pieces of cloth, which dangle and stir on stage under light effects to the sound of lively African percussion, giving the audience the impression of characters floating in the air like 'a midsummer night's dream'. Golden ornaments decorate characters' heads, beads, glass pearls adorn necks and breasts, and powerful arms and legs facilitate the vigorous movements of the forest fairies. For, in African performances, music, acting and dancing movements cannot be dissociated from one another. Music implies movement. Meirelles then invites us to expand our Western perspective in order to observe the mix of music with other stage systems. He sets his play on an African-Brazilian stage in a unique adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy that typifies what Barthes called 'a weaving of echoes, citation, references: previous or contemporary cultural languages, which cross the text in a vast stereophony.' Through such a dual process of appropriation and salvage, of interpreting and creating something new, Meirelles shows himself to be a contemporary dramatist, if (as Agemben argues) 'contemporaneity is a singular relationship with present time, to which one adheres, and from which one simultaneously withdraws.'

Bionote: Elizabeth Ramos has a Post-Doctorate degree from the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and a Master's and Doctorate in Literary and Linguistic Studies from the Universidade Federal da Bahia, where she is Professor in the Department of Germanic Letters. She does research in the field of Shakespearean and Translation Studies (both literary and intersemiotic), mainly concerned with the relationships between literature and cinema. In those fields, she advises Master's and Doctoral students.


Title: Toneelgroep's Roman Tragedies in London: The Intermediality and Interlinearity of Surtitling Shakespeare in English

Speaker: Geraldine Brodie, University College, London

Abstract: In November 2009, Toneelgroep Amsterdam visited the Barbican Theatre, London, with its critically and internationally acclaimed production, Roman Tragedies. A consecutive staging of Shakespeare's three plays, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, the production lasted six hours and was performed in Dutch with English surtitles. In an interview published in the Barbican Theatre programme, the director, Ivo van Hove, insisted, 'we have simply made a new translation'. However, the amalgamation of three plays, the contemporary setting, the male roles played by women and the stage-audience interactivity combined to create a strikingly overt reinterpretation and condensation of Shakespeare's work. In London, the potential controversy of this approach was further reinforced by the English surtitles, negotiating between the Shakespearean text and a back-translation of the performed Dutch script. This paper considers the innovative role played by surtitles in the collaborative act of performing a translated play. The Toneelgroep production, which includes a variety of intermedial modalities such as the simultaneous filmed projection of performance aspects and pre-recorded segments in a televised format, also explores the potential of theatrical intermediality by incorporating surtitles into its digital presentation. Translation is thus situated within the central mise en scène of the production rather than banished to the wings or proscenium arch as is more frequently the case in surtitled plays in the theatre. My paper investigates the effect of this integration of surtitles. Firstly, from the point of view of translation as dramaturgy: how does this positioning of surtitles contribute to the interpretive act of theatrical communication? I will consider the motivations for this exploratory treatment, taking into account technological advances and the increasing internationalisation of productions developed for touring, and argue that, whether intentional or incidental, the intermedial positioning and display of surtitles serves to focus unprecedented attention on the contribution of translation to theatre performance. Secondly, in addition to the positioning of the Toneelgroep surtitles, their textual content, signifying the movement from Shakespeare's language through modern Dutch and back to English, provided a reminder to the London audience, familiar with the original, that translation creates its own trajectories. I will analyse the negotiation of the cultural sensitivities of translation within the text and the performance, examining the function of these surtitles. Walter Benjamin envisaged the construction of translation as an integral element within the creation of a text, insisting in his essay The Task of the Translator that 'all great writings contain their virtual translation between the lines'. My paper asks whether the innovative techniques adopted by Toneelgroep Amsterdam in this Shakespearean production present an opportunity for the consideration of surtitles as interlinear translation, overtly displayed to the audience.

Bionote: Dr Geraldine Brodie convenes the MA in Translation Theory and Practice at University College London. She is the founder and co-convenor of the UCL Translation in History Lecture Series, and a co-editor of the IATIS online journal New Voices in Translation Studies. Her research centres on the collaborative role of the theatre translator in English-language performance, including the intermediality and dramaturgy of surtitles. In addition to speaking and publishing on these topics, she has devised the UCL Theatre Translation Forum, bringing together academics and theatre practitioners in a series of interdisciplinary examinations of dramatic genres.

PART THREE: Translation and adaptation


Title: Bombarding the Headquarters: Academic Tradaptations of Shakespeare in Twenty-First Century Bengal

Speaker: Sarbani Chaudhury, University of Kalyani, India

Abstract: For the metropolitan English students and academics of India, Shakespeare has long been a curious blend of the venerable and the malleable but the Bard still means serious business in the suburbia with only occasional exceptions to the rule. One such exception has been in place since 2008 during Radix, the annual reunion of the Department of English, University of Kalyani, where the insidious seepage of high voltage Indi-pop, Bollywood and Hollywood dance numbers into the 'culturally admissible' recitals of classical dance, music, and Tagore songs and poems is reflected in the highpoint of the day's festivities – the performance of a raunchy, risqué and impudently abridged version of a Shakespearean play under the able tutelage of a young faculty, Sandip Mandal. This paper proposes to investigate the developing tenor and direction of these translations of A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Tempest, Twelfth Night and Macbeth, between 2008 and 2012, which cannibalize, digest and regurgitate a diametrically split Shakespeare for local, one-time consumption. Through the complete collectivization of the page-to-stage process – from script writing to the final performance – the Bard's authorial hegemony is severely undermined and the end product becomes the collective property of the Department through collaborative enterprise at every level. The consistent deployment of confrontational bilingualism and theatricality fragments the act of 'seamless transmission,' challenging Pratt's 'contact zone' proposition by upholding rather than dissolving the binary between the source and the target text. Supposedly 'high brow' Shakespearean scenes remain unaltered while the populous 'low' scenes celebrate the 21st century Bengali suburban milieu, language and setting with a profusion of 'Hinglish' and 'Benglish' slang, innuendos and puns, and allusions to popular Bollywood and Hollywood films. The proportional relation between the 'original' and the 'indigenised' is increasingly skewed in favour of the latter till, in Macbeth: A Comedy, the Shakespearean passages (e.g., soliloquies) take on the parenthetical function of 'annotating' the translation. The politics of polarity also informs the masculinist project of forcibly occupying the 'original' where aggressive translation combined with adaptation (hence, tradaptation) effectively feminises Shakespeare by producing a new text with vestiges of both parents but dominant patrilineal traits. The discontinuous tradaptation effected through such bilingual and theatrical juxtaposition of original scenes and passages with indigenised counterparts is further assisted by definitive periodization, which entails invoking the Elizabethan-Jacobean era as closely as possible in the 'original' scenes' while locating the 'indigenised' portions in a contemporary Bengali setting. Assisted by video clips and stills, my presentation proposes to establish that together, the attributes mentioned above, move beyond the postcolonial desire to re-write/right the 'asymmetrical relations of power' (Tejaswini Niranjana) endemic to much of colonial/ postcolonial translations by rejecting the in-betweenness of Homi Bhabha's 'Third Space' in favour of bombarding the headquarter and reclaiming the centre by reconfiguring Shakespeare as a supplementary component of a hybrid, thoroughly indigenised product.

Bionote: M.Phil. on 'Shakespeare's Masterless Men'. Ph.D. on 'Subversive Voices in Tudor Literature'. Awards-Grants: All-Round Best Graduate Award, Jadavpur University, 1977; British Council Grant for Ph. D. research; Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship. Publications: Shakespeare and the Discourse of Protest (1994); Ed. Re-presenting Shakespeare: Interpretations and Translations, Vols. 1 & 2 (2002); Ed. Undergraduate Syllabus: Perspectives and Possibilities (2002); Ed. Pearson Longman The Tempest (2009). Refereed publications: 34. Contributor, World Shakespeare Bibliography Online published by Shakespeare Quarterly and Johns Hopkins University Press; Book review editor, Multicultural Shakespeare. Current Project: Shakespeare Criticism in Bengal. Areas of interest: Theatre, Women's issues, Shakespeare in Bengal.

WRAP-UP SECTION: led by Nely Keinänen


Back to top


Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2015 11:05

Repackaging books for a new audience: innovative approaches to research on cross-cultural literary flows

Panel Convenors: Gabriela Saldanha, University of Birmingham (UK)
, Célia Maria Magalhães, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil

Theme of the panel: The circulation of literature is affected by marketing practices, understood as "the decisions publishers make in terms of the presentation of books to the marketplace, in terms formats, cover designs and blurb, and imprint" (Squires 2009: 2) but also "the multiplicity of ways in which books are presented and represented in the marketplace: via their reception in the media; their gaining of literary awards; and their placement on bestseller lists” (ibid. 3). Translations have on impact on the landscape of reception as well as on the perceptions of the landscape of production. These perceptions are affected by the literature marketing process and have a role in shaping images of a nation's cultural landscape and the projection of such images in foreign cultural landscapes, as well as in the making of world literature. The circulation of translated literature in a globalised world passes through many filters; books are 'packaged', distributed and displayed with a particular audience in mind. Once in print, they often go through a filter of literary critics and media exposure, which contribute to the mediascape (Appadurai 1996) created around a nation's cultural tradition. These mediascapes are changing dramatically due to the impact of new technologies, which allow for the circulation of images and representations which are not under the control of the literary elite. Social approaches to translation studies need to develop innovative frameworks and methodologies that are specifically adapted to explore how the contexts of production, circulation and reception of translated literature are changing. The panel will discuss images of national/cultural identity in translation as represented in translation metatexts such as paratexts (such as, prefaces, translator's notes, glossaries, blurbs and covers) and peritexts (such as, reviews and interviews). The use of the World Wide Web by publishers, readers and other agents involved in the marketing process has open new channels for the circulation of opinions that were previously filtered by media and professional reviewers. Papers will discuss stereotypical and other kinds of (un)marked representation through and around translated literature with a focus on marginalised literary cultures as a result of the trade imbalance in translated literature. Contributions will be innovative either in terms of the theoretical framework proposed to study this area, the methodologies (a focus on multimodal analysis will be encouraged, as well as mixed methods combining corpus/text analysis and socio/cultural methodologies), or the specific contexts and translation directions addressed.

For informal enquiries: [gDOTsaldanhaATbhamDOTacDOTuk]

Gaby - Saldanha-140x140

Gabriela Saldanha is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK). She has published extensively on translation stylistics and is the author of Research Methodologies in Translation (Routledge, 2013) together with Sharon O’Brien. She co-edited the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (Routledge, 2009), together with Mona Baker; and a special issue on ‘Global Landscapes of Translation’ (Translation Studies, 2013) together with Angela Kershaw. She is also co-editor of New Voices in Translation Studies, InTRAlinea and Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts.

IATIS photo-CMCélia M. Magalhães is a Full Professor in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. Her research interests lie on the style of translations/translators, and to innovative ways of using multimodal social semiotics analysis to translation which includes representations of translated texts on book covers and other metatextual material. She has published papers in Brazilian journals as well as books and chapters in (inter)national books on these topics.





10 minutes – Introduction: Cultural translation in a changing book market

SESSION 1: Re-imaging nations and translation

PAPER 1: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: China as Dystopia: Cultural Imaginings Through Translation

Speaker: Tong King Lee, University of Hong-Kong

(Submission #168)

PAPER 2: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: 'Translation' but not as we know it: new circuits of reading and writing

Speaker: Fiona Doloughan

(Submission #216)

PAPER 3: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: Images of the Western Balkans in English Translation for Children

Speaker: Marija Todorova

(Submission #159)

PAPER 4: Marketing, Reading and Problematizing Turkish Literature in English Translation: From Production and Consumption to Critical Analysis

Speaker: Sehnaz Tahir Gurcaglar, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

(Submission #294)

10 minutes – Wrap-up

SESSION 2: Cross-cultural flows in a globalized literary market.

PAPER 5: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: Modern European poet-translators: a statistical analysis

Speaker: Jacob Blakesley

(Submission #181)

PAPER 6: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: Anthologizing Italy: forms and functions of Scandinavian collections of Italian prose and poetry

Speaker: Cecilia Schwartz, Stockholm University, Sweden

(Submission #309)

PAPER 7: 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion

Title: Representing Brazilian literary translation and translators in verbal and visual metatexts

Speaker: Célia M. Magalhães, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil

(Submission #158)

20 minutes – Wrap-up


PAPER 1: China as Dystopia: Cultural Imaginings Through Translation

Speaker: Tong King Lee, University of Hong-Kong

Abstract: This paper explores how China is represented in English translations of contemporary Chinese literature. It commences with the case of Yan Lianke (b.1958), a controversial novelist some of whose novels have been banned in China due to their politically sensitive content. Specifically, I look at the paratexts surrounding the English translation of Yan’s novel SERVE THE PEOPLE! (banned in China upon publication), and examine the image of China as projected through the translated version of the novel. The following questions guide my analysis: Given that British and American publishers have a comparatively low propensity to import translated works (as Lawrence Venuti as shown), what is it, then, that makes a novel such as SERVE THE PEOPLE! particularly attractive to Anglo-American publishers? Is it its “subversive critique of the hypocrisy and madness of the Cultural Revolution”, as the book’s introduction and blurb repeatedly tell readers, coupled with the fact that Yan was subject to state punishment for writing politically incorrect novels? Or is it the “intolerable humiliation”, allegedly endured by the masses in China, and “the desperate situations of their existences” that are depicted in novels by Yan and his contemporaries? What discourses are at work in framing these translated works for reception by an English-speaking readership, such that political subversiveness turns into a tactical motif in marketing translated literature? And how do such discourses dovetail into broader meta-narratives on China and Chineseness in the West? These questions pertain to the construction of images of alterity through translation, and to how market forces in the publishing industry collaborate with political ideologies in forging particular narratives on the culture of Other. Tapping into ideas from postcolonial criticism, the paper argues that China is systematically imagined as the dystopic Other by the Anglophone world through translation, specifically via the selection of specific texts for translation and the strategic deployment of paratexts in these translation products. It makes the case that in translated literature, the tendency to construct a tyrannical China – through the selection of censored/sensational titles and the evocation of landmark historical events in paratexts – falls in line with broad trends of Western perceptions of China. Within the geopolitical context of China’s global ascendance as a world power and its perceived hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, the significance of the phenomenon discussed goes well beyond literature and translation. Literary translation is but part of a wider, institutionalized programme of Anglophone textual practices that positions China as a subject of gaze. These textual practices tend to triangulate around a self-fulfilling idea of what China is or will become, as if the latter were an object that can be exhaustively signified using a unified set of conceptual terminology.

Bionote: Tong King Lee is an assistant professor of translation at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Translating the Multilingual City: Crosslingual Practices and Language Ideology and Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics (forthcoming).

PAPER 2: 'Translation' but not as we know it: new circuits of reading and writing

Speaker: Fiona Doloughan

Abstract: In a recent article on “Translation studies at a cross-roads”, in the context of a personal view of how far Translation Studies has come since the 1970s, Bassnett (2012) points to the challenges facing Translation Studies today in an age of increasingly intercultural writing and suggests that it needs to think more broadly and engage in dialogue with those from other related disciplines. She goes on to identify a number of scholars in Comparative Literature, Post-colonial Studies and World Literature whose work is engaging with translation and translational writing in interesting and provocative ways. Taking Bassnett’s own provocation as my starting point, I wish to suggest that understanding cross-cultural literary flows is as dependent on new conceptualizations of translation and what translated literature may look like across the globe today as it is on innovative approaches to the reception and production of writing in translation. This is not to suggest that the packaging and marketing of works in translation and their reception across cultures does not continue to be worthy of investigation. It is simply to acknowledge that the translational project has broadened at a time when it is no longer possible to make simple adequations between and among language, culture and nationhood in literary or other cultural representations; and that translation as a mode of writing and reading has become ever more complex in a world where English has become a lingua franca. To Bassnett’s contention that “so much thinking about translation seems to be coming from scholars working outside it” (Bassnett 2012: 21), I would add that contemporary writers themselves are increasingly aware of, and thematising in their work, issues of translation both literal and metaphoric. In order to explore both sides of the translational coin, I shall discuss two examples: Diego Marani’s novel New Finnish Grammar originally written in Italian in 2000 and published by Dedalus Books in English translation by Judith Landry in 2011 and by all accounts more popular in Finland in English translation than in the 2003 Finnish translation; and Xiaolu Guo’s recent novel I am China (Guo 2014), a work that cleverly draws on the process of translation (from Chinese to English) to withhold and reveal information, in line with what the translator knows, and advance the plot. In discussing these two examples, I shall draw on a range of sources both textual and extra-textual, including author interviews, publishers’ blurbs, reviews, both popular and academic in addition to reflections on the changing nature of translation today at a point when writers may be drawing on more than one language and culture in their literary representations and be conscious of the myths of nationhood, “the whole question of identity as a politics rather than an inheritance” (Clifford, 1997: 46) and the widening scope and significance of translation today.

Bionote: Fiona Douloughan is a Lecturer in English (Literature and Creative Writing) with an ongoing interest in translation and translational writing, having previously taught Creative Writing within a Translation Studies context. She is currently writing a monograph for Bloomsbury entitled English as a Literature in Translation to be submitted in December 2014 and has been involved in Panel Discussions with writers and translators as part of the activities organized in connection with European Literature Night at the British Library, London. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the US and a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the UK.

PAPER 3: Images of the Western Balkans in English Translation for Children

Speaker: Marija Todorova, Hong Kong Baptist University

Since the late 1990s there has been an increasing interest in the representation of Balkan culture in the literary works of authors writing in English. Scholars (Bakic-Hayden 1995, Todorova 1997, Goldsworthy 1998, Norris 1999, Hammond 2010) have shown how literary representations of the Balkans have reflected and reinforced its stereotypical construction as Europe’s “dark and untamed Other”. However, the contribution of translated literature in the construction of these images has rarely been considered. Thus, this study of representations of the Western Balkans in translated literature, published since 1990, addresses a gap in the study Balkanist discourses and helps shed a new and more complete light on the literary representations of the Balkans, and the Western Balkans more precisely. Children’s literature has been selected for this study due to its potential to transform and change deeply rooted stereotypes (Sutherland, 1997). The paper looks at the use of paratexts, and especially the cover (front and back), in the translated books as framing and representation sites that contest or promote stereotypes in the global literary market. English has been selected as a target language due to its global position as а mediating language for the promotion of international literature. However, translations in other languages, where they exist, are also examined for comparative purposes. The study adopts Kress and van Leeuven’s (1996) model of multimodal analysis and focuses on five books, each from a different country (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro) and representing a range of genres and formats (non-fiction, anthology, novel, picturebook, and an ebook). The discussion considers how covers changed over time, in different editions of the translated book. It also examines adaptations accompanying the introduction of the translated book into the target society, such as documentaries, music scores and theatre performances.

Bakić-Hayden, Milica. 1995. Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of Former Yugoslavia. Slavic Review, 54.4:917-31.

Goldsworthy, Vesna. 1998. Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination. London: Yale University Press

Hammond, Andrew. 2010. British Literature and the Balkans: Themes and Contexts. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Kress, Gunter and Theo van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. Second edition. New York: Routledge.

Norris, David A.. 1999. In the Wake of the Balkan Myth. London: Macmillan Press.

Sutherland, Zena. 1997. Children and Books. New York: Longman.

Todorova, Maria N. 1997/2009. Imagining the Balkans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bionotes: Marija Todorova holds a dual BA in English Language and Literature and Macedonian Language, and MA in Peace and Development Studies. She has more than 10 years of experience as interpreter for various international organisations. For one of her literary translations she received the 2007 National Best Translation Award. In 2008 she has established and taught at the University American College Skopje, Translation Programme. Currently, she is a Research Fellow in Translation Studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University. Todorova is an Executive Council member of IATIS and Kontakt. Her research interests include intercultural education, children’s and young adults literature and visual representation.

PAPER 4: Marketing, Reading and Problematizing Turkish Literature in English Translation: From Production and Consumption to Critical Analysis

Speaker: Sehnaz Tahir Gurcaglar, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

Abstract: The paper will concentrate on the course followed by Turkish literature in English translation within the last decade and the way these translations have been tackled by researchers, working both in and out of Turkey. It will adopt a discourse-critical approach to the subject and focus on three different levels of representation and analysis. The critical moment taken as a milestone in the promotion and marketing of Turkish literature in the English-language context is the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s only Nobel laureate. The paper will focus on developments following this milestone and will also explore the ways in which a major prize such as the Nobel Prize for Literature --features in the marketing, consumption and analysis of translated literature. The study will first of all focus on the immediate paratextual aspects of a select group of works of fiction translated from Turkish into English and explore the covers, blurbs and prefaces of the works, i.e. the peritexts of the novels. The second level of analysis will engage in a critical discussion of epitextual material published about the works in question in the form of reviews and interviews with authors or translators. This level will also include an analysis of on-line reviews and comments posted in book forums and on-line bookstores by non-professionals with the expectation of building better proximity to literary reception by ordinary readers. The third level of analysis will deal with the way researchers have approached patterns of marketing and reception of Turkish literature in the Anglophone context in the light of a recent proliferation of books, essays, reports and theses written on the topic (A selection includes Seyhan 2008, Göknar 2013, Tekgül and Akbatur 2013, Eker Roditakis forthcoming, Akbatur forthcoming). This level will probe into how researchers problematize (or fail to problematize) issues of national/cultural identity and cross-cultural literary representation as they tackle translations and their reception.

Bionote: Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar is professor of Translation Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and a visiting scholar at the School of Translation, Glendon College, York University in 2014-2015. She studied Translation Studies at Boğaziçi University and Media Studies at Oslo University. She holds a PhD degree in Translation Studies and teaches courses on translation theory, translation history, translation criticism and interpreting. She is the author of The Politics and Poetics of Translation in Turkey, 1923-1960 (Rodopi, 2008) and various papers published in international journals and edited volumes. Her research interests include translation history, retranslation, periodical studies and reception studies.

PAPER 5: Modern European poet-translators: a statistical analysis

Speaker: Jacob Blakesley, University of Leeds, England

Abstract: With the rise in nation states and the development of a world economy, poets have increasingly turned to translation as a fundamental creative act. It is through translation that modern poets often begin their careers, develop their poetics, and make a living. It is through such activity that poet-translators have helped shape and form the dynamics of modern European literary fields, a fact long overlooked by scholars. My project, Poets of Europe, Translators of the World, investigates modern European poet-translators, based on new and original research undertaken in national library catalogues in England, France, Italy, and Spain. My work reveals that poets often produce more translated volumes than original books: their translations form an invisible as well as visible network stretching across Europe and beyond. My paper reveals translation has been a prime motor for modern European literary systems. Despite widespread translation work by a large number of canonical 20th-century European poets – from Federico García Lorca, and René Char to Rainer Maria Rilke, Eugenio Montale, and Ted Hughes –, no one has specifically addressed poet-translators in a transnational context. Moreover, there is no comparable project that uses a sociological approach to show translation trends across modern literary Europe. My methodology is based on two pillars of modern literary sociology, Franco Moretti and Pierre Bourdieu. I draw on Moretti’s notion of “distant reading,” where individual texts (in this case, translations) are not analysed on the level of close reading, but are examined as part of a larger group. Instead of dealing with only a few books through close reading, we can now analyse the other 99.5% of texts, “the great unread,” in Moretti’s words. I likewise make use of Bourdieu’s theorisation of the literary field, and his related concepts of cultural and symbolic capital. In this paper, I will show how the number of 20th century poets who translate (and what they translate) depends on several key factors: the importance of translation for a particular linguistic tradition, the role of poetry in society, the prestige of various languages and literary cultures nationally and internationally, the political and historical situation at large (peacetime vs. wartime), and the economic opportunities available to poets. In short, my project strives to demonstrate how translation is a vital, creative practice for poets of all nations, and allows crucial literary exchange across cultures far and wide. This research project is being continued through a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Leeds, which I will begin in September. I am co-editing a special journal issue of Translation & Literature with Jeremy Munday (2015), dedicated to the sociology of poetry translation, which will contain an article of mine about this very topic.

Bionote: Jacob Blakesley received his PhD in Italian literature in 2011 from the University of Chicago. He has taught translation studies and Italian literature at the University of Manchester and Durham University. He is taking up a 3-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Leeds Centre for Translation Studies in September. His monograph Modern Italian Poets: Translators of the Impossible was published this year by the University of Toronto Press.

PAPER 6: Anthologizing Italy: forms and functions of Scandinavian collections of Italian prose and poetry

Speaker: Cecilia Schwartz, Stockholm University, Sweden

Abstract: So far little attention has been given to literary anthologies as a genre, and especially in the field of translation studies (Seruya et. al 2013). This paper starts out from the idea that translational anthologies based on geographical criteria, are revealing documents of ideas concerning both source and target culture in the intercultural exchange of literary texts. These ideas are reflected in the selection of texts and in paratextual features such as titles, book covers, blurbs, prefaces etc. Just as Bourdieu (1990) points out, a literary text often gets decontextualized when leaving its original national field, which may lead to misinterpretations as well as new and different readings. In the case of translational national anthologies, we are actually dealing with a form of double decontextualization. Firstly the text loses its original cultural context, secondly it loses its original textual context. Literary texts included in translation anthologies, have all been picked out of their original textual surroundings in a rather unsentimental and sometimes careless manner, and then put together in order to create a collection of representative texts from the same geographical background. Having undergone this double decontexualization, the “national” feature of texts included in translational national anthologies might be even more emphasized as a result of paratextual strategies. Focusing on the translation flow from Italy to Sweden, with a glance given to the other Scandinavian countries, during the second half of the 20th century, this paper seeks to find out whether there is consistency to the idea that publishers tend to highlight the “italianity” when selecting and repackaging Italian texts for a Scandinavian audience. For this purpose, a paratextual corpus – consisting of titles, covers, blurbs, notes and prefaces – will be analyzed with prominence given to the selection operations and promotion strategies that are visible in paratextual features of translational national prose and poetry anthologies. Methodologically, the analysis aims to combine well known strategies deriving from sociology of translation with an imagological perspective on the construction of national stereotypes in literature (Pageaux 1994, Beller & Leerssen 2007). More precisely, this paper seeks to respond to the following questions: 1. In what way can paratextual features help us to visualize the selection criteria and, more generally, the main purpose of translational national anthologies? 2. How does the paratext in Scandinavian anthologies of Italian literature relate to stereotypical ideas of “italianity”?

Bionote: Cecilia Schwartz is Associate Professor of Italian at Stockholm University. Her present research deals with the intercultural exchanges between Sweden and Italy, with a special attention given to the circulation on the book market and the impact of literary mediators. Her recent publication on the field is the volume, coedited with Laura Di Nicola, Libri in viaggio. Classici italiani in Svezia (2013). She has also published various articles on the idea of the North in contemporary Italian novels and travel writing. She is responsible for the cultural agreement between the University of Stockholm and Sapienza-University of Rome. She is also a translator and literary critic.

PAPER 7: Representing Brazilian literary translation and translators in verbal and visual metatexts.

Speaker: Célia Maria Magalhães, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil

Abstract: The paper offers an analysis of the role of translation and translators in disseminating work from a different cultural context. The aim of the study is to explore which conceptualisations of translations and translators are construed and promoted by the Brazilian literary market and whether they reinforce common sense images of translations and translators or represent and help consolidate new, more positive, perspectives on translations and translators (Magalhães, 1998; St Andre, 2010; Kershaw & Saldanha, 2013). Another relevant aim is to further refine/develop analytical procedures already used in the context of the Corpus of Style of Translations – ESTRA – project, by including textual and multimodal analysis of translation metatexts. ESTRA is a parallel corpus with 72 texts, about 2 million tokens, mainly designed for the study of style of translations/translators and the analysis of

retranslations. It is composed of novels, short stories and children’s literature. The language pairs are English/Portuguese, English/Spanish and Spanish/Portuguese. It includes a corpus of metatexts such as book covers, flaps, prefaces, introductions, translators’ notes, afterwords, and blurbs. The paper will report on preliminary results of a study of both the verbal metatexts of ESTRA and the visual metatexts (covers) of a sample of Brazilian (re)translations of Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Two different methodologies are used. The first is analysis of verbal metatexts. The focus of the analysis will be on keywords and their collocates as representing as well as construing discourses on translation and/or translators through metaphors in metatexts (Deignan, 2005; Cameron, 2008; Berber-Sardinha, 2009). The second involves multimodal analysis (Kress & van Leewen, 2006) of the sample of book covers with the aim to decode representational, interactive and compositional

meanings as ways of (re)presenting the translated text to a new audience. Issues to be

discussed as part of the study include the comparison of the visibility of translator/author in the visual and verbal language of the metatexts as well as the inter and intradiscursive relationships established by them.

Bionote: Célia M. Magalhães is a Full Professor in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil. Her research interests lie on the style of translations/translators, and to innovative ways of using multimodal social semiotics analysis to translation which includes representations of translated texts on book covers and other metatextual material. She has published papers in Brazilian journals as well as books and chapters in (inter)national books on these topics.

Back to top


Last modified on Monday, 29 June 2015 18:51

International Workshop on Intralingual Translation

Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies

Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

27-28 November 2014

The registration is now open to everyone.

The Center for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna is organizing a two-day symposium (12-13 December 2014) to bring together Eastern European traditions and scientific reflections on Translation (Studies).

Third IATIS Regional Workshop – Western Balkans

Notice of Extension of Deadline

Third IATIS Regional Workshop – Western Balkans


© Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Icons by