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Edward Clay

The Midwest, to many Americans, is either “fly-over country” where not much of interest happens, or “the heartland,” nostalgically framed as an ideal, homogenous America.

A group of U-M scholars has secured a $225,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the Midwest instead as a multicultural, multilingual region shaped by successive waves of both international and domestic migrations.

Focusing on the question of translation — broadly understood as complex mediations and negotiations between languages and cultures — the group of humanities scholars will organize a series of events under the Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminar program.

“We’ll be exploring diverse cultures of translation in various Midwestern sites,” said Yopie Prins, Irene H. Butter Collegiate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature in LSA. “Who translates what for which purpose and in whose interest? How has the region been defined by the interaction of multilingual communities?”

Translation, the scholars stress, is not merely a process between national languages, but an everyday web of encounters among citizens who bring different backgrounds, expectations, fears and dreams to the table.

The multidisciplinary U-M team of scholars is led by Prins, who also is a professor of comparative literature, and English language and literature; Marlon James Sales, postdoctoral fellow in critical translation studies; and Silke-Maria Weineck, professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and comparative literature.

Collaborators include Kristin Dickinson, assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures; Maya Barzilai, associate professor of Middle East studies and Judaic studies; Benjamin Paloff, associate professor of comparative literature, and Slavic languages and literatures; and Christi Merrill, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures, and comparative literature.

Titled “Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest,” the project will run for two academic years, starting in fall 2020 and culminating with a conference in spring 2022. It will bring together community organizations, as well as researchers and scholars from U-M and other Midwestern universities and colleges for a series of public events and seminars.

They will explore topics as diverse as translation initiatives for local communities; U-M archives that preserve histories of translation in the Philippines and Filipino diaspora in Michigan; photojournalism that visualizes interaction among multiple languages in the industrial cities of Detroit and Dortmund; the place of Eastern European literature in Midwestern cultural networks; Yiddish translations of urban experience; the promise of translation networks enabled by Hathi Trust; and the challenges and promises of Hamtramck, Michigan’s most linguistically diverse city.

Additional meetings are planned on Native American languages and the role of Arabic communities in the Midwest.  

Sawyer Seminars are, in effect, temporary research centers that connect faculty, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students — mainly in the arts, humanities and social sciences — for intensive study of subjects chosen by the participants.

“The recognition of the Mellon Foundation and the intent of this seminar series exemplify the incredible work of U-M faculty members taking an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing multiple histories and practices of translation in the Midwest,” said Martin Philbert, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“These events and the conversations that come during them will spark important dialogues about the pivotal role translation plays in today’s multicultural and multilingual society.”

It has been a decade since U-M last received the prestigious Sawyer Seminar grant from the foundation’s invitation-only award process.

“We are thrilled to be supported by The Mellon Foundation and excited to be given this opportunity to make possible more collaboration with scholars working around issues of translation within and beyond our university,” Prins said.

“We see translation not as an academia-led practice of language, but as a community-centered encounter with its own multilingual realities.”

The International Conference Translation, Inclusivity, and Educational Settings (TIES) will be held in Italy at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” on 27-28-29 February 2020. It aims to bring together academics, researchers, and scholars to exchange information and share experiences and research results about all aspects concerning translation, inclusivity, and educational settings in our contemporary world. The major goal of the TIES Conference is to connect and tie the world of translation to the multifaceted realities of today’s global and globalized uses of English. The contemporary relevance of English has turned it into the natural lingua franca in a vast range of contexts, both formal (e.g., business, education, science, politics, commerce, diplomacy) and informal (e.g., social networks, popular culture, blogs). It is through this lens in particular that we view the notion of inclusivity: it encompasses the multifarious realities and iterations of English(es) today. Translation and editing are implicated in these changes and demand proper investigations, and the TIES Conference intends to provide a platform for this line of research. Presenters are encouraged to identify those mediating, remediating, and intermediating connections among these key notions that allow users to comply, successfully and efficaciously, with translating needs for global communication today.

Deadline for abstracts: 20 December 2019

For more information, click here

Contra Instrumentalism questions the long-accepted notion that translation reproduces or transfers an invariant contained in or caused by the source text. This “instrumental” model of translation has dominated translation theory and commentary for more than two millennia, and its influence can be seen today in elite and popular cultures, in academic institutions and in publishing, in scholarly monographs and in literary journalism, in the most rarefied theoretical discourses and in the most commonly used clichés.

Contra Instrumentalism aims to end the dominance of instrumentalism by showing how it grossly oversimplifies translation practice and fosters an illusion of immediate access to source texts. Lawrence Venuti asserts that all translation is an interpretive act that necessarily entails ethical responsibilities and political commitments. Venuti argues that a hermeneutic model offers a more comprehensive and incisive understanding of translation that enables an appreciation of not only the creative and scholarly aspects of what a translator does but also the crucial role translation plays in the cultural and social institutions that shape human life.

For more information, click here

The Department of Language and Linguistics (DLL) has 37 full-time academic members of staff and provides a broad spectrum of expertise in the study of language and in the practical teaching of modern foreign languages. Its core ambition is to offer students a transformative educational experience in these areas underpinned by high quality research. The majority of research conducted in the department is rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent', placing us 8th among departments in the UK for research quality (REF 2014).

Our linguistics expertise covers Theoretical and Descriptive Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, TESOL and Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling. We offer a wide range of languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese that can be taken at degree level from beginners to advanced levels following the Common European Languages Framework.

The department is now seeking to appoint a part-time Lecturer in Translation and Interpreting.

Deadline for applications: 4 December 2019

For more information, click here 

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures seeks an outstanding new colleague to join the School as Assistant Professor in Translation Studies and French.

The successful applicant will be expected to undertake internationally excellent research, provide outstanding teaching at undergraduate and masters level, and carry out service to the School. The appointment is tenable on a non-fixed term basis from 1 September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

We welcome applications from exceptional scholars with research expertise in any area of Translation Studies and French that complements the research strengths of the School, and are particularly keen to receive applications from candidates with a research specialism in intersemiotic and/or transmedial translation.

This post offers an exciting opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of internationally excellent research and teaching in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, while allowing you unrivalled opportunities to progress and embed your career in a progressive institution.

Deadline for applications: 27 November 2019

For more information, click here

The Department of Linguistics and Language Practice has a position for a postdoctoral research fellow in one of the following fields of specialization:

· Semiotics, including intersemiotic translation and/or multimodality

· Biosemiotics/ecosemiotics (and the humanities)

· Sociology of translation

· Translation and development

Interested candidates can contact Kobus Marais at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 29 November 2019

In a world that seems continuously to be stretching the line of what is acceptable to the inhabitants of specific linguistic and cultural contexts, this interdisciplinary conference acknowledges the importance of investigating taboos and their reinforcement/breaking in various areas of language, culture, literature and society, and across different cultures. We propose to explore the delicate balance and subtle boundaries between the need for inclusion and respect for different ethnic, religious, sexual backgrounds – which seem to be at the basis of modern multicultural societies – and a conscious (or unconscious) push towards the breaking of existing taboos, for example for shock value, as in the case of comedy and art. In such contexts, investigation of the linguistic, cultural, social, institutional and personal implications of taboo reinforcement/breaking appears of extreme value.

For its 5th edition, the Taboo Conference series will specifically address the intricacies of taboo in language, culture, literature and communication in its various occurrences from the points of view of production, performance, and perception/reception. The subject of taboo in language, culture, literature and communication seems to have become especially relevant in the last few years, in which political correctness at both the institutional and individual level has been seen, on the one hand, as a crucial tool in protecting people from verbal abuse and in preventing the reinforcement of stereotypes and, on the other, as a set of measures and a way of thinking which significantly curtail free speech in many aspects of the public sphere.

The 2020 conference seeks to explore the shifting boundaries of the acceptability of taboo in their various incarnations as produced and perceived in today’s multicultural society, from cinema and television, to news, videogames, literature and different kinds of online content. The study of taboo in the past, for example through the medium of literature, is also relevant to the conference. Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to, political orientations and political satire, identity and gender politics, ethnic stereotypes, different kinds of non-normative behaviour, political correctness and the discourse surrounding it, and the debate between real and perceived offense through comedy.

Deadline for submissions: 10th February 2020

For more information, click here

The times and epochs have passed, but meaning in translation – elusive and fascinating, precise and pragmatically relevant – remains the main focus of translation studies. The issue of accurate representation of meaning across the languages has become particularly topical in the era of digitalization, proliferation of MT and CAT tools, evolution of neural machine translation networks, and the changes in the way information is generated, stored, processed and transmitted.

This year, the main focus of the conference is “Translation Studies in the Era of Digital Humanities”.
We hope that the conference will bring together researchers and translators, academia and students, practitioners in language services and technologies and language policy makers and will become a forum for promoting dynamic and constructive debate, networking and research cooperation.

The fourth international scientific conference “Meaning in Translation: Illusion of Precision” is aimed at exploring themes from the theoretical and practical perspectives covering a wide scope of topics: Terminology standardization and harmonization; Pragmatic, semantic and grammatical aspects of meaning in translation; Translation of sacred, legal, poetic, promotional and scientific and technical texts.

Deadline for submissions of abstracts: 31 January 2020

For more information, click here 

PACTE (Process of Acquisition of Translation Competence and Evaluation) is organising the Fifth International Conference on Research into the Didactics of Translation (didTRAD), which will be held at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 8-10 July, 2020.

This conference aims to provide a forum for researchers in the field of translator training.

Plenary Speaker: Don Kiraly, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Conference Topics

Teaching translation: introduction to translation, legal translation, scientific translation, technical translation, literary translation, audiovisual translation, localization, inverse translation, etc.

Teaching interpreting: simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting, community interpreting, etc.

Teaching signed languages interpreting and translation.

Teaching technologies for translators and interpreters.

Teaching language for translators and interpreters (L1 and L2).

Teaching professional aspects.

Assessment in translation and interpreting teaching.

Cross-cutting aspects of curriculum design: tutorials, final-year dissertations, placements, etc.

Applications of empirical research in translation and interpreting teaching.

Deadline for submissions: 19th January 2020

For more information, click here

Friday, 15 November 2019 12:09

CULTUS 13: Mediating narratives of migration

Our contemporary world is characterised by mobility and migration. People are on the move for various reasons: to flee war and persecution in their home countries, to get reunited with their families, to work and live abroad. Movement always involves a displacement of individual people who find themselves in a new socio-cultural context and a new linguistic environment. Overcoming linguistic and cultural borders and facilitating communication often requires some form of mediation, which is often practised in institutional sites of contested discourses. Translating and interpreting narratives of migration as told by migrants entail the (re)construction and transformation of these narratives, and affect the representations of ‘self’ and ‘other’ as well as policies of social inclusion and community cohesion.

The proposed issue intends to explore the role of language, translation and interpreting in constructing narratives of migration. It invites contributions from the perspective of different research fields (translation and interpreting studies, linguistics, journalism studies, sociology, political science, etc.) on topics such as the following:

Which policies and practices are in place to use (or reject) translation and interpreting for engaging with narratives of migration?What factors influence the construction of narratives in interpreter-mediated events (e.g. asylum hearings)?How are narratives (re/de)constructed and transformed in processes of translation and interpreting?What types of narratives are constructed and (re/de)constructed (narratives of difference, of belonging) and how do they influence the representations of ‘self’ and ‘other’?What are the implications of rendering narratives of migration for translators and interpreters in respect of professional ethics?Which approaches and models are suitable for investigating such questions?

Call for abstracts: 16 December, 2019

Notification of acceptance: 23 December 2019

Call for papers: 16 March, 2020

For more information, click here

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