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Tuesday, 05 July 2011 22:29

International Conference "Nancy Huston: The Multiple Self"

The Organizing Committee of the International Conference "Nancy Huston: the Multiple Self", to be held at the Université Sorbonne nouvelle on June 8 and 9, 2012, invites proposals for papers.  This event, organized by the Institut du Monde Anglophone, is held under the aegis of the Marie Curie Actions of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union.

Nancy Huston, like Samuel Beckett, is one of the few writers who has translated her own works.  Self-translation, whose status is rather difficult to define, is one of the most complex and interesting forms of translation because it reveals the creative aspect inherent in any act of translation.  Her practice of self-translation in both French and English, merging mother tongue and foreign tongue, subverts the conventional categories of the original work and its translation, bringing into play the relationship to that which is foreign and the problem of identity and otherness.  Her crossover between two languages thus invites us to question our practice and our representation of both writing and translation.

The aim of this Conference is to examine various themes in Nancy Huston’s work related to her practice of self-translation, in particular her relation to her mother tongue and the question of fidelity-infidelity in translation.  The Conference also aims at better understanding her relation to feminism (as shown for instance in her essay on Annie Leclerc) and to some famous female figures such as Jocaste, as well as the following themes present throughout her work: the body, maternity, creation-procreation (Journal de la création), sexuality or pornography (Infrarouge, Mosaïque de la pornographie).  The linguistic experimentation of self-translation subverts not only traditional categories of translation (which is usually subordinated to an original work), but also the relationship between production and reproduction that is essential to the establishment of power between the sexes.  The theme of individual or collective identity opens up that of masks and multiple identities illustrated by the symbolic figure of Romain Gary.  The language of exile, for Nancy Huston, appears to be a preferred place to reinvent one’s self, but as a novelist she also celebrates the power of literature to transcend the limits of the self.  In their search for meaning, authors and translators appear to be engaged in an infinite task of translating, and it would seem that it is all of human experience for Nancy Huston that could be described in terms of a paradigm of translation.

Among the range of topics of enquiry in relation to Nancy Huston’s work that this conference hopes to attract, the following specific themes have been proposed:


1. Self-translation

  •  The process of self-translation and the relationship to the mother tongue
  •  The status of self-translation
  •  The question of fidelity and infidelity in translation; fidelity to whom, to what ?
  •  Bilingual « brothers » : Samuel Beckett, Romain Gary

2. Feminism, the body and maternity

  •  The relation to feminism and the possibility of writing in the feminine
  •  The themes of the body and maternity, creation and procreation
  •  The body and sexuality
  •  The theme of childhood

3. The question of individual or collective identity and that of multiple identities

  •  The illusion of identity: to be one and to coincide with one’s self ?
  •  Inventing oneself as other
  •  The theme of the mask

4. Exile and the stranger

  •  The language of exile
  •  The relation to that which is foreign
  •  The dialectics of sameness and otherness at the heart of translation
  •  Self-translation as writing between two languages: a position at the edge

5. The role of the writer, of literature and of translation

  •  In praise of literature and translation
  •  The role of imagination
  •  The paradigm of translation and the meaning of existence

We welcome proposals for papers (a half page abstract in French or English), as well as a short CV indicating your institution and three recent publications.  These should be sent to the following addresses by October 15, 2011, to Jane Wilhelm (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Pascale Sardin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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