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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:03

Critical Sexology: A workshop on Queer and / in Translation

Critical Sexology: A workshop on Queer and / in Translation
Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
on Friday, December 7th 2012 from 14.00 to 18.00 (ArtsTwo, Room 316)
Organizers: B.J. Epstein (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) & Robert Gillett  (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Neither Here Nor Queer: Translating Queer Literature for Children from English to Swedish (B.J. Epstein)
  • Dead Wilde: Translation and the Emotional Undercurrents of Modern Queer Culture (Heike Bauer)
  •  "This is So, So Real": Realising Lesbian Sex, Compromising Queer Space in Nathalie... and Chloe (Clara Bradbury-Rance)




Neither Here Nor Queer: Translating Queer Literature for Children from English to Swedish

B.J. Epstein

It's firmly accepted that translations are an excellent way of bringing new ideas and new worldviews into another culture. Similarly, there's little argument about the fact that children's literature helps children to understand themselves and others through its representation of children's experiences, thoughts, and feelings. When children's literature is translated, however, it's a frequent occurrence that certain aspects of a text get changed to better suit what is considered appropriate for children in the target culture. Here I aim to analyse whether this is especially the case when it comes to the traditionally challenging or taboo topics of sexuality, and in particular non-heterosexuality.
In this paper, I will give some background on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer literature for children and young adults, and I will briefly compare such texts from English-speaking countries and from Sweden. Then I will analyse two English texts, Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers and Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill, and their Swedish translations in order to discuss how sexuality is portrayed in books for young people in the UK versus in Sweden and how sexuality gets translated. One major issue to be discussed is whether texts for children that feature non-heterosexuality get changed when they are being translated from a more permissive, liberal culture to a more conservative, traditional one, or indeed vice-versa, and if so, how this affects the reading of the texts.


B.J. Epstein is a lecturer in literature and translation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and is a translator from Swedish to English. She is the author of Translating Expressive Language in Children's Literature (2012)and the editor of Northern Lights: Translation in the Nordic Countries (2009), and she is currently completing a monograph on LGBTQ books for children and young adults.


Dead Wilde: Translation and the Emotional Undercurrents of Modern Queer Culture'

Heike Bauer

This paper explores the impact of the death of Oscar Wilde on Magnus Hirschfeld's sexology to address broader questions about translation and queer community at the turn of the last century. Hirschfeld (1868-1935), a trained physician and key figure in the institution of modern sexology, is best known today for his homosexual rights activism, coinage of the term 'transvestism' and founding of the Institute for Sexual Sciences. Less attention has been paid to the fact that the practice and theory of translation played a significant role in his work. He travelled widely, most famously completing a two-year world lecturing tour to escape from Nazi persecution, collaborated on international initiatives such as the World League for Sexual Reform, and included accounts of his encounters with lesbians and homosexual men from around the world in many of his writings. Around 1900, he travelled to England where he met with male students at Cambridge who mourned the death of Oscar Wilde. The paper examines Hirschfeld's account of this encounter alongside his other writings on Wilde and on homosexual death and persecution more widely. It follows recent queer histories which have shown that while post-Foucauldian scholarship has importantly enhanced understanding of the complex relationship between discourse and subjectivity, and between words such as 'homosexuality' and the emergence of modern sexual identities, we have yet to gain a full understanding of the complicated emotional underpinnings of this frequently violent process. By examining the translations between German and English that mark Hirschfeld's narratives about the dead Oscar Wilde, then, this paper traces some of the emotional ties that bound homosexual culture at the turn of the last century.


Heike Bauer is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck and founding Director of Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Studies (BiGS). She has research interests in literature and the histories of gender and sexuality, cultural and critical theory, the history and representation of violence and racism, and queer, lesbian and women's writing. She is the author of a major monograph on sexology, literature and cross-cultural exchange at the fin de siècle entitled English Literary Sexology: Translations of Inversion 1860-1930 (Palgrave 2009). And she is currently writing a book on Magnus Hirschfeld's writings on war, racism and homophobia entitled Travels Through a World of Difference: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Queer Narratives of Modern Sex Research 1900-1950.


"This is So, So Real": Realising Lesbian Sex, Compromising Queer Space in Nathalie... and Chloe

Clara Bradbury-Rance

A woman, Catherine, discovers that her husband, Bernard, has been cheating on her. She hires a prostitute, Marlène, to seduce him and bring back graphic tales of their sexual encounters. 'Nathalie' is the name chosen by Catharine for Marlène to embody in this task. Nathalie is their creation, and in Marlène's periodic retellings of Nathalie and Bernard's sexual encounters, we are given no visual clues, no graphic exposition of the events, but the very simple telling of a story by one woman to another. The film, Nathalie... (Anne Fontaine, 2003), creates a space, or series of spaces, in which two women's shared experience of sexual interaction with the same man connects them and creates a third relation, a lesbian one, that is only hinted at. The film creates a fiction within a fiction, a homoerotic dynamic of sexual provocation between two women, visually uninterrupted by the image of the man. The film's Canadian remake, Chloe (Atom Egoyan, 2009), does something very different, using technology and architecture to orchestrate a more explicit version of the women's desire. What happens when the unspoken of the original is spoken, when ambiguity is rendered straightforward, when the complexities of queer desire are made concrete? Where Nathalie...'s protagonist confesses to her client "I fake it. It's my job", thereby complicating and, I argue, queering the women's negotiations of fantasy, her Canadian counterpart insists that "this is so, so real". This paper will address that tension between fantasy and real in the adaptation from one film to another, and assess how an unrealised fantasy, at the threshold between public and private, domestic and alien, marks a cinematic queerness that challenges the erotic foundations of its adaptation.


Clara Bradbury - Rance is a doctoral research student at the University of Manchester. Her research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, explores contemporary lesbian cinema. She has written on queering postfeminism in The Kids Are All Right for Postfeminism and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema edited by Joel Gwynne and Nadine Muller (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and is writing on queer adolescence for a forthcoming collection on girlhood in the cinema edited by Fiona Handyside and Kate Taylor.


Respondent: Dr Emily Jeremiah
Emily Jeremiah is currently director of German in the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of two monographs: Troubling Maternity: Mothering, Agency, and Ethics in Women's Writing in German of the 1970s and 1980s (Maney/MHRA, 2003) and Nomadic Ethics in Contemporary Women's Writing in German: Strange Subjects (Camden House, forthcoming, 2012). As well as publishing widely on literature, gender and ethics, she is also a prize-winning translator of Finnish poetry and fiction. And she has headed an academic-artistic collaborative investigation of agency, spatiality, and orientation, funded by the Culture Capital Exchange, which took place at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, King's Cross between September 2011 and May 2012.


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