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Wednesday, 15 November 2023 13:37

‘Affect in Translation’ (edited volume)

Translation Studies scholars have shown a growing interest in the role affect and emotions play in the translation process. Research in this vein has explored links between affect and translation in various domains, including literature, business, governance, and translator/interpreter training (Kußmaul 1991, Jääskeläinen 1996, Ruokonen & Koskinen 2017, Shadman 2020). Various methodologies have been brought to bear, ranging from qualitative methods such as TAP (Jääskeläinen 1996), interviews (Risku & Meinx 2021), and narrative accounts (Ruokonen & Koskinen 2017). These tools have proven useful in identifying and investigating the parameters that affect translators’ and interpreters’ performance and how emotional intelligence informs the translation process (Shadman 2020, Hubscher-Davidson 2021, Rojo 2017). Despite the great interdisciplinary potential of interfacing insights from psychology and cognitive scienceswith Translation Studies, researchers have thus far primarily focused on emotions from a cognitive perspective only. One notable exception is Kaisa Koskinen’s Translation and Affect: Essays on Sticky Affects and Translational Affective (2020), which invites scholars to rethink the role of “affect” in translation by including cultural and sociological approaches that highlight the relevance of affect theory to Translation Studies. Building on Koskinen’s pioneering work, this volume seeks to advance our understanding of affect’s interplay in translational phenomena by contributing new methodological and conceptual insights and exploring new empirical domains.

One indication of the need for conceptual elaboration is the profusion of different definitions of affect. Koskinen understands affect as a “body-mind complex that directs a person towards a desired state of affairs through a process of change” (13). Under this framework, affect is “bodily grounded. We can only be affected by what our sensory systems register, and this is constrained by both our bodily capacities and our material location” (179). Translation can thus be viewed as an activity in which affect plays an important role. Following Koskinen’s approach, we are interested in exploring the links between the individual and the social by highlighting emotional and physiological aspects involved in translation. Our volume hopes to build on this conceptualisation of affect that privileges human experience in times when technological advances often take centre stage, without forgetting that translation technologies also affect the translator and other translation actors both cognitively and socially (Pym, 2011). For instance, the use of increasingly high-performance digital tools and machine translation transforms the translator’s tasks and raises new questions regarding dialogue (Pym, 2011), agency, creativity, or individual voices, all of which arguably fall into the realm of affect (Koskinen, 2020: 155). Taking this into consideration, the goal of this volume is twofold. Firstly, it pursues a “sociocultural theorization of the roles of affect in translatorial activities” (6). Secondly, it aims to connect affect to the subfield of translator studies, which covers “sociology, culture and cognition” (Chesterman 2009: 13), in order to articulate the need for research focused on the agents and actors involved in translation rather than solely on the translated text. Agent- and process-oriented research allows for an in-depth examination of the translator’s agency and the influence of culture and society on their choices. Similarly, widely discussed questions such as translator training, ethics, and the translator’s (in)visibility need revisiting in light of affect theory.

Since translation is a cultural rather than a solely linguistic act, and given that affect is embedded in culture and is context-dependent, the intersection of affect and translation is best studied not only from an interdisciplinary point of view, but also through an exploration of novel and combined methods that pertain to the realm of ethnographic, literary-artistic, philosophical, cultural studies. In line with the contributions of Goldfajn (2020) and Koskinen hailing from cultural studies, this volume seeks to highlight the centrality of affect and emotions in translation and to offer new avenues for exploring future directions in the discipline. We welcome diverse perspectives, methodologies, and case studies that explore the cultural and social nature of both affect and translation, such as – but not exclusive to – cognitive, gendered, embodied, postcolonial, psychological and historical approaches that address one or more of the following questions: 

– What is the role of affect on and between the different agents/actors in the translation field? 

– How does translation shape affect in specific contexts or in relation to certain social phenomena? This question could be linked to climate change narratives, heritage, politics, journalism, current events, science, literature, national/cultural identity, censorship, etc. 

– How are translators and interpreters affected by technology (e.g., CAT tools, translation memories, AI)? What could be the possible impacts on the future development of the profession? 

– To what extent do sociocultural and economic factors such as gender, education, linguistic policies, and cultural politics influence affect, particularly in translation situations? What can this teach us about translators and the translation process? 

– How can a more explicit focus on affect advance the state of the art in other areas of interest in TS, such as self-translation, retranslation, and untranslatability? 

Deadline for abstracts: 15 December 2023

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