CFP: Key Cultural Texts in Translation, Leicester, April 2014
- CONFERENCE: Key Cultural Texts in Translation
University of Leicester
April 29-30 2014
The conference will be the culmination of the AHRC-funded Key Cultural Texts in Translation project, which aims to enhance our understanding of the changes that linguistic and other symbolic representations of identity undergo in translation across times, spaces and media.
The conference will focus on the ways in which cultures define and re-define themselves through the representation in texts and other artifacts (films; paintings ...) of their key concepts. What happens to the images of the initial and the receiving cultures when these representations of key concepts are translated? How are key concepts re-represented? What can we learn from this about how peoples can adjust mutually in times of meetings and migration? (Further information in appendix at the end of this announcement).
There will be two keynote speakers, selections of papers, and discussion sessions aimed at engaging audiences across a number of subjects.
Fransiska Louwagie, University of Leicester; Kirsten Malmkjær, University of Leicester; Adriana Serban, University Montpellier 3; Meifang Zhang, University of Macao.
Jens Erland Braarvig, Professor of History of Religion, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.
Stella Sandford, Reader in Modern European Philosophy, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University.
OF INTEREST TO
Academics in literary, historical, religious, social, cultural, linguistic and translation studies.
Policy makers, journalists and everyone engaged in public policy.
HOW TO BOOK
Book your place at the conference by going to https://shop.le.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=65
and clicking on the "Book Event" button.
Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words by e-mail to Professor Kirsten Malmkjær at km240@... <mailto:km240@...> no later than 1 October 2013. You will be informed by 6 January 2014 whether your paper has been accepted.
Information about the AHRC-funded "Key Cultural Texts in Translation" network based at the Research Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies (RTISt), the University of Leicester, UK, with partners at the Département d'études anglophones, Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier 3, France, and The Department of English, University of Macao, P.R. China.
Title of Research Project: Key Cultural Texts in Translation
Principal Investigator: Professor Kirsten Malmkjær (Leicester)
Partners: Dr Adriana Serban (Montpellier); Professor Zhang Meifang (Macao)
The Network addresses the AHRC's "Translating Cultures" theme, focusing primarily on the translation of texts, but also on intersemiotic translation in Jakobson's (1966: 233) sense of "an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of nonverbal sign systems" (or vice versa).
It will identify texts (broadly defined) to be collected in an e-repository accessible through the Website of the Research Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies (RTISt) at the University of Leicester, and bring together translation professionals and scholars from the UK, Europe and China to discuss and explore the relationships between
· the characteristics of texts and artifacts through which cultures establish, define, develop, maintain, promulgate and defend their identities
· the characteristics of translations and retranslations of these across times and spaces
· the complex matter of movements and relocations of peoples across national and cultural boundaries.
It seeks to disseminate its findings and outcomes widely within and beyond academia.
Rationale and research context
It is well known and well attested that languages and language varieties are closely connected with issues of personal and regional identity construction (see e.g. Reershemius 2011: 4; Bakker 1997; Coupland 2003; Matras 2009). But whereas scholars in the field of language contact focus primarily on the use of a language/variety per se, the focus of this Network is on the expression through language and in other media of key identity defining concepts (and the relationships between them), such as for example childhood, adulthood, citizenship, freedom, personal identity, nationhood, foreignness, democracy, dictatorship (and other political "states"), and the sacred. It will highlight the role of language, rhetoric and semiotics in textual and non-textual forms of communication about these concepts, both in "initial expression" (a term preferred here, rather than "source texts" because the latter suggests written text alone) and in translations and re-translations across languages and between media.
The project is informed by Gallie's (1956) notion of essentially contested concepts. Such concepts are `open' in the sense that they admit "modification in the light of changing circumstances", as when cultures meet and learn from and about each other. They are expressed in texts and in other publicly available media, and especially prominently and widely shared in those texts which the network thinks of as Key Cultural Texts (KCTs).
In translation between languages and media, the openness of essentially contested concepts and their consequent variance is especially clear to see, both in their expression per se, and in discourse about them in paratexts such as translators' prefaces, post-scripts and notes. The latter can highlight perceived translation difficulties and the reasons for them, and the solutions adopted and the reasons for those. They can highlight the reasons for re-translations, revealing perceived miscommunication or felt needs for greater accuracy.
Understanding how these concepts are expressed in different media, and what happens to them in translation across languages and media, is a major part of understanding the successes and failures of communication and co-habitation among peoples and cultural groups who meet through free or forced migrations across our increasingly globalised communities now, and who will in all probability continue to do so in the future. As Hall puts it (1996: 4) "identities are about using the resources of history, language and culture in the process of becoming rather than being: not `who we are' or `where we came from' so much as what we might become, how we have been represented and how that bears on how we might represent ourselves".
Awareness of such concepts and their operations has significant policy relevance, because as Chomsky (1979: 38-39) has pointed out, there is a danger that liberal-democratic political states, while not prohibiting expression, may instead "fix the limits of possible thought: supporters of the official doctrine at one end, and the critics ... at the other". When we understand the essentially contested nature of certain concepts, we will be better able and prepared to engage with variance. As Gallie (1956: 193) puts it: "Recognition of a given concept as essentially contested implies recognition of rival uses of it ... as not only logically possible and humanly `likely', but as of permanent potential critical value to one's own use or interpretation of the concept in question".
By looking for patterns of similarity and difference in the treatment in translations of these concepts across time, locations and modes, we may learn what constitutes success and failure in people's attempts to adjust and accommodate mutually.