CFP: [International] Translation in multilingual cultures

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Francis Mus
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Call for papers


The research group “Translation” and the research unit “Literary relations
and post/national identities” of the KULeuven organise an international
colloquium on “Translation in multilingual cultures”, May 20th, 21st and
22nd 2009 in Leuven, Belgium.

The recent understanding of the multilingual character of past and present
cultures asks for a reconsideration of disciplinary boundaries that are
traditionally language-bound. The complex practice called ‘literature’ can
no longer be fully apprehended (if it ever could) in linguistic isolation,
or within constricting frameworks like ‘space’ or ‘nation’. Beyond
relatively familiar critical examinations of the national paradigm in the
description of multilingual spaces like Canada, Belgium, the Caribbean
Islands, Switzerland, Spain etc., it is now also necessary to examine how
disciplinary procedures routinely obscure diversity within so-called
monolingual cultures, as well as the artificial or fallacious formations
that institutions like the Francophonie or the Commonwealth have imposed on
regional, urban, island or other literatures.

The questioning of linguistic, spatial or national boundaries in relation
to which separate literatures are constructed, urges us to rethink the
nature of the relationships between literatures: how to replace the
familiar distinctions between ‘source’ and ‘target’ or between ‘import’ and
‘export’? How do we accordingly describe the complex multilateral relations
between major and minor literatures sharing the same territory, or between
minor literatures belonging to different spaces? Does Translation Studies
offer appropriate concepts and methods to analyse the new literary
cartographies, to rethink literary relations in multilingual cultures where
the notions of (linguistic) frontier and of (national) space are actually
questioned? Is Translation Studies prepared to transgress the distinctions
on which it has built part of its raison d’être? We need to make explicit
the discipline’s presuppositions, but also the rationale behind the choice
of translation corpora, and (re)assess the translational meta-language
based on inadequate, reductive, binary distinctions. Thus, the concept of
‘translation’ itself, complemented with the epithet ‘cultural’, seeks to
broaden its signification, until now restricted to an intertextual and
interlingual scope. But is it necessary – by analogy with inter- and
intralingual translations (Jakobson) – to distinguish between inter- and
intracultural translations? And how do the latter differ from other
operations of ‘cultural transfer’?

The colloquium is open to the totality of these historiographical and
translational questions, preferably tackled by means of case studies
dealing with European and non-European literatures. It focuses on the
period ranging from the birth of monolingual ideologies in the 19th century
to their radical questioning during the 20th century.

Papers are invited which develop one or more of the following perspectives:

• The conceptual and methodological articulation of different ‘levels’ of
cultural translation: discursive, institutional, intracultural,
intercultural etc.

• The challenges to national literary histories raised by the notion of
intracultural translation.

• The comparison of forms and functions of translations within such
discourses as history, philosophy and literature, in particular during the
19th century in Europe, when young, emerging cultures massively turned to

• The interaction between agents of translation that take on the role of
intercultural mediators: translators, editors, magazines etc.

• The tactics deployed by translations when they are produced in spaces
with a strong political or ethnic coefficient? like Ireland (English,
Gaelic) or Spain (Castilian, Catalan, Basque) as well as in most of the
colonised or formerly colonised spaces.

• The cartography of networks of translations (publishers, genres,
translators) covering cultures that share the same language: Belgium,
Switzerland, Quebec, France or Austria, Germany etc.

Proposals of 300 words approximately (English or French) and a short CV
should be submitted to the organizers before October 31st 2008. Papers and
discussions will be held in English and French.

Reine Meylaerts (
Lieven D’hulst (
Francis Mus (
Karen Vandemeulebroucke (

Blijde-Inkomststraat 21
3000 Leuven

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Received on Tue May 13 2008 - 09:32:24 EDT

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