The Author’s Other Voice: Literary Translation in Theory and Practice (Seminar)

Comparative Literature / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Charlotte D'Eer (Ghent University)

The interdisciplinary turn in the field of Translation Studies has raised a number of questions regarding the interweaving of theory and practice, the development of hybrid approaches to the target text, the power of translation to shape cultural relations, and the growing expectations of the reader for truth and clarity. In this context, the role of the literary translator becomes ever-more pertinent. His/her verbal dexterity as well as the ability to capture the narratological complexity of the source text define the subtle border between content and form and shape the identity of the translated work of art. Yet the literary translator’s most challenging task is to decide whether the creative use of language can be rendered possible without infringing the rules of linguistic acceptability. This question constitutes the starting point of our inquiry and calls for further research on both individual and collective variables that influence the translation process. Given the translator’s ability to question the singularity of literary traditions and offer a better understanding of the intrinsic pluralism of culture, this seminar seeks original approaches regarding the social utility and functions of the translated text.

Theoretical considerations and/or practical case studies can focus on either a descriptive, target-oriented, functional, and systemic analysis of literary translation (Gideon Toury 1985; Dilek Dizdar 2009) or towards a normative, source-text oriented, linguistic, and atomistic standpoint (Heidrun Gerzymisch-Arbogast 2006). Other possible approaches can examine the social constraints that condition the reception of literary translation (Gisele Sapiro 2008), the enunciatory process of cultural translation and its relation to the concept of hybridity (Homi Bhabha 1994), the hermeneutic motion and the battle between literal and symbolic meaning (George Steiner 1975), the element of resistance and the irresolution of translation (Walter Benjamin 1921), the claim of aesthetic autonomy (Lawrence Venuti 2012), the ethical turn in translation studies (Mary Snell-Hornby 2006), and the place of translations both within a given literature and in the intersection between literatures (Theo Hermans 1985). Reflections on literary translation through the prism of philosophy, sociology, poetics, studies on the imaginary or any other related field are also welcome.

This seminar welcomes original approaches with regard to the translation of poetry and prose. Scholars at any stage of their research are invited to reflect on the status of the literary translator, the social utility of the translated work of art, the emergence of new paradigms in Translation Studies, the interchange between theory and practice, and the contribution of literary translation in shaping cultural relations.