Stranger Forms: Translating the Unusual and Minor of Early Modernity (ACLA 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Laura Francis and Sara Stamatiades - Cornell University
contact email: 

While canonical works like Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote have enjoyed rich histories of translation, minor texts rarely see as much activity. Even for famous authors, unusual forms may not see the light of day at all. Take Cervantes’ own entremeses, for example: a kind of theatrical interlude prevalent in Golden Age Spain, these short texts have attracted only a handful of translations compared to the Quixote’s hundreds. Carrying out the author’s own biting remark that he wrote dramatic pieces never to be dramatized, the lack of translation only reinforces the already problematic centering of canonical texts. Unavailability across languages ingrains the marginal status of other works and, with them, the marginal figures they represent.

What can we gain from translating the unusual and minor of early modernity, then? How does one go about translating a strange form — strange in the double sense of both genre and language — for new audiences? And how can we bring such works into our classrooms and research? Considering the dangers of domestication underscored by Lawrence Venuti, namely the tendency to translate the most dominant and assimilable works, we hope to valorize often-ignored texts. We especially invite papers on:

-Current translation projects
-Analyses of past translations
-DH projects highlighting early modern minor works
-The pedagogical benefits of including such works

Sessions will be conducted in English, but translations of all languages welcome!


Conference information: the American Comparative Literature Association's Annual Conference will be held virtually April 8-11, 2021.


Abstract Length: 350 words maximum


Abstracts Submission Information:


Questions? Please contact Laura Francis ( and Sara Stamatiades ( with any inquiries.