Day Conference, 28 November 2014: Translation, Research and the Production of Knowledge

Translation, Research and the Production of Knowledge

Date: Friday 28 November 2014

Venue: Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London

Organised by the Society for French Studies and the French Studies Library Group,

with the collaboration of the Institut français

This event will bring together translators, academics and librarians to discuss the ways in which translation constitutes a form of research and knowledge production in its own right. It will include discussion of translation as a form of practice as research, and provide reflections by researchers and translators on recent projects that exemplify such an approach. Colleagues from the British Library will explore the potential of translators’ papers as a research resource, and there will be a round table with colleagues from the wider fields of translation studies and Modern Languages. The event will conclude with a presentation by prize-winning translator and curator Sarah Ardizzone. This is the third in a series of translation-related events co-organized by SFS and FSLG, and follows previous symposia on ‘Constructing “21st-century Literature in French”‘ in December 2011 and ‘Translation and Reception: 21st-century French fiction in the UK’ in April 2013.

Advance booking is essential by 14 November 2014 as spaces will be limited.

Please address any enquiries about late registration to Charles Forsdick (



10.00 – tea/coffee and registration

10.30 –panel 1:

Nick Harrison (KCL), Translation as research

Kate Briggs (American University in Paris), Translation as experiment

11.30 – panel 2:

Nina Parish (Bath) and Emma Wagstaff (Birmingham), Translating contemporary French poetry

Michael Syrotinski (Glasgow), Translating the Dictionary of Untranslatables

Tim Mathews (UCL), Translation and reading

1.00 – lunch

2.00 – Rachel Foss and Deborah Dawkin (British Library), Collecting Translators’ Archives at the British Library

3.00 – tea/coffee

3.30 – round table (with Kate Briggs (American University in Paris), Nick Harrison (KCL), Duncan Large (British Centre for Literary Translation, UEA) and Karen Leeder (University of Oxford))

4.30 – Sarah Ardizzone, The Spectacular Translation Machine & Other Adventures in Translation 

5.30 – event ends

Call for Papers: Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations

Call for Papers: Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations

International Conference, University of Bristol, September 8th-10th 2015

Conference Organisers: Dr Rajendra Chitnis (Bristol), Dr Rhian Atkin (Cardiff), Professor Zoran Milutinovic (SSEES, University College London) and Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen (University College London)

The literatures of smaller European nations, written in less well-known languages or from less familiar traditions, all depend on linguistic and cultural translation to be heard by the wider world. Researchers in individual national literatures, comparative literature or translation studies, however, generally work in parallel and even in competition, divided along linguistic, geographical and disciplinary lines, and are unused to examining the precise nature and implications of this shared situation. As a result, some may view the situation of a given national literature too narrowly, while others, in imagining a supranational organisation of literature, fail to consider how the literatures of Europe’s smaller nations might become part of it.

The aim of this conference is to bring these groups together to explore comparatively the mechanisms through which the literatures of small European nations endeavour to reach the cultural mainstream, and to examine the extent to which these literatures may constitute a specific ‘literary system’ in their relationship with that mainstream. We invite papers that address the following questions:

  1. How are the literatures of small European nations translated across borders? Who are the main actors in the translation of the literature of small nations? How do they perceive their role? What role do national and international institutions, funds and prizes play?
  2. What are the opportunities for and barriers to wider European dissemination through translation of the literatures of smaller nations or peripheral regions?
  3. How valid is the ‘centre and periphery’ model when applied to the cultural dynamics of translation in European literature? How far and in what ways do perceived ‘peripheries’ interact without recourse to the ‘centre’?
  4. How does the international reception of the literatures of small European nations influence canon formation, the writing of literary history and a nation’s perception of its literature and literary status? What is the status and experience of writers who migrate and/or ‘self-translate’?
  5. What is the role played by cultural stereotypes, defining historical episodes, dominant single figures or genres and other ‘international shorthand’? To what extent do they hinder or facilitate the translation process?

Papers may approach these questions from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, including but not limited to literary and cultural history and theory, sociology and translation studies, and may draw on the current or historical experience of one or more national literatures.

The conference organisers also invite applications from current UK-based doctoral students who do not wish to give a full paper, but would like to attend the conference as a fully funded delegate and work with other selected postgraduates on a group presentation to be prepared during the conference and delivered on the final day. Applicants should submit a statement (c.500 words) outlining their current research and its relevance to the themes of the conference, and two academic letters of recommendation to Dr Rajendra Chitnis ( by December 5th 2014.

This conference is a core part of an AHRC-funded Translating Cultures research project, and organisers aim to meet in full the travel, accommodation and conference fee costs for all speakers chosen by the organisers. The organisers will invite selected speakers to revise their papers for inclusion in chapter form in an edited volume arising from the project.

Please send paper titles, abstracts (c.300 words) and a short CV to Dr Rajendra Chitnis ( by December 5th 2014.

Eight new Innovation Awards to explore Translating Cultures

In a world increasingly characterized by globalized connections, the need to understand communication within and across cultures is crucial. The AHRC today announced eight new Innovation Awards which – through the study of diverse historical, geographical and social contexts – will make important contributions to broad questions about our understanding of ourselves and others in the contemporary world.

The new projects will be delivered through the AHRC’s Translating Cultures theme which considers the role of translation, understood in its broadest sense, in the transmission, interpretation, transformation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives.

  • Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations, Dr Rajendra Chitnis, University of Bristol

This project creates the opportunity for the first sustained comparative analysis of how, through translation, the contemporary literatures of small European nations endeavour to reach the cultural mainstream.

  • Child language brokering: Spaces of belonging and mediators of cultural knowledge, Dr Sarah Crafter, Institute of Education

This project will explore the previously invisible work of child interpreters by researching how cultural knowledge and identities are mediated by language brokering and by producing a documentary film and web exhibition to enhance awareness of the valuable contribution made by young language brokers.

  • Translating science for young people, Professor Alice Deignan, University of Leeds

This project is concerned with how state-of-the-art scientific knowledge is translated or mistranslated in texts accessed by young people aged 11-16. Information translation across genres may result in distortion which may impact on future understanding and, in the case of issues like climate change, even affect patterns of behaviour.

  • The Art of Cultural Exchange: Translation and Transformation between the UK and Brazil 2014-16, Professor Paul Heritage, Queen Mary, University of London

This research will investigate cultural exchange as an act of translation. With a focus on UK exchanges with arts organisations in Rio de Janeiro, it will consider the transformations sought through the exchange of artists, artistic production and artistic methodologies. The project will analyse how innovations in the social technologies of the arts seek to translate the city and transform lives.

  • Translating cultures and the legislated mediation of indigenous rights in Peru, Professor Rosaleen Howard, Newcastle University

This project will examine issues of cross-cultural communication of the law in negotiations that are taking place between the state and indigenous populations of Peru. It will use linguistics to reveal to what extent translation in contexts of mediation is achieving its aim of harmonious relations in a postcolonial society while allowing sustainable economic development.

  • Conversion, Translation and the Language of Autobiography: Re-inventing the Self in Transitions to Christianity in India (1700-1947), Dr Hephzibah Israel, University of Edinburgh

This project addresses the question of how translation serves to transform ideas and knowledge about religious belief and conversion between geographical locations, historical moments and cultural contexts. Arguing that translation is intrinsic to the way religions began to be viewed, compared and categorized in the South Asian context, the project will bring a fresh approach to the study of Indian religions by examining how Indians have self-represented religious conversion and identity through autobiographical writings and translations.

  • Translating the Deaf Self, Professor Jemina Napier, Heriot-Watt University

Through an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods, qualitative research design, this study will pioneer a new exploration of translation and deaf culture. The study aims to inform theories on translation, identity and well being, and will trial a new methodology for conducting research with visual languages.

  • From Dark Tourism to Phoenix Tourism: The Ethics of Cultural Translation in Urban Festivals, Professor Margaret Topping, Queen’s University, Belfast

The cultural transformation of the 2013 UK City of Culture (Derry-Londonderry) was symptomatic of a shift from “dark tourism” to “phoenix tourism” in Northern Ireland. Yet there are ethical tensions between the competing imperatives of a commercially-driven projection of a positive sense of place, and community-driven self-fashioning in the wake of conflict. This project explores cultural translation in cases of “festivalization” with specific reference to West Belfast’s Féile an Phobail.

Professor Charles Forsdick, Theme Leadership Fellow for the Translating Cultures theme, said:

“These awards will bring innovative insights across the many and varied areas encompassed by the Translating Cultures theme. They will change our understanding of the ways in which translation is constitutive of culture, and also central to the circulation of ideas and the development of new knowledge. Each will engage in innovative ways with partners to interpret our rapidly changing world.”

For more information contact Alex Pryce (AHRC) on 01793 41 6025 or

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