Unending Translation: Creative Critical Experiments in Translation and Life Writing

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Delphine Grass/Lancaster University, Lily Robert-Foley / Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3


Unending Translation: Creative Critical Experiments in Translation and Life Writing

Deadline for abstract proposals: April 15th, 2022

Publisher: UCL Press (tbc)


The aim of this collected edition is to explore different approaches to translation criticism through the medium of life writing. Traditionally assigned to the paratextual, the translator’s point of view rarely occupies the narrative centre of creative writing and essays. In recent years, however, contemporary translators have taken on a more prominent role in translation criticism, exploring their practice through the medium of memoirs and experimental essays allowing for fragmentation, doubt and openness to be expressed in subjective modes of writing. The translational turn to life writing and the essay can be interpreted as a challenge to the separation between practice and theory which traditionally exists in translation studies. On the one hand, the meeting between translation and life writing can be seen as an attempt to rethink autobiographical forms, reinventing the terms within which we create, shape and think the category of the subject through literature. On the other, creative-critical experiments in essay writing and translation have allowed for a more embodied and situated critical engagement with translation, an opportunity to explore translation as a practice-led thinking of texts and writing in their own right. The meeting between translation and life writing thus shifts our literary focus from thinking about the essence of individual works to thinking about translation as a space of subjective and material entanglement, a practice capable of re-imagining relations not only between cultures but between the traditionally opposed practices of reading and writing, thinking and doing.

In this collected monograph, we ask and call for translators, writers, teachers and critics to approach translation practice from such an embodied, situated position. What happens when translation meets life writing? But also, what happens when translation shapes the essay as a form, and when the essay in its turn continues translation? What happens, in other words, when translation practice becomes the subject rather than the object of literary introspection? How can life writing accounts of translation make us rethink our understanding of the relationship between translation and politics, translation and life?


We welcome experimental essays and life writing experiments, for example: 

- Stories of a translator’s personal experience that narrate the interpretive experience as a writerly one.

- Experimental approaches to translation that rewrite a text through the translator’s engagement with it, or perhaps weave together different types of text, playing with form.

- Reflections on the subject position and voice of the translator, both as a lived experience but also as a politically situated one that is enjoined to tackle on the one hand the appropriative gesture of translation and on the other, the marginalised, secondary position that translation takes in traditional binaries of original/translation.

- Writings that play on the form of the translator’s commentary, responding to the traditional forms of translator prefaces, footnotes etc.

- Essays that multiply translational variants through a collection of hybrid approaches.

- Translations where the figure of the author is translated into the figure of the translator

- Stories of translation that give unique openings onto texts, for example through the interweaving of translation and commentary in the translation of genetic material (manuscripts, authorial marginalia, intertexts etc.)

- Writings that explore translation as fiction, in the sense given by Kate Briggs as an invitation to suspend one’s disbelief, to enter the foreign as though it is familiar, but also that tell a story of the time and place of the translating figure.

- Writings that visibilise the translator's voice but their process and technique, challenging the injunction to produce a unitary, sole text as a finished product to be sellable.

- Translator writings that reflect upon political and identity dynamics such as feminist translation or decolonial practices. Reflections on the specificity of translating minority, regional, non-standardized or non-national languages are also welcome here.

- Heterolingual experiences that mix languages, texts, translations and originals and deterritorialize the attachment of languages to nation states.



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K. Briggs (2018) This Little Art. London, Fitzcarraldo Editions.

B. Brown (2011) The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus. San Francisco, CA, Krupskaya.

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J. Butler. (2019) ‘Gender in Translation: Beyond Monolingualism’, Philosophia. Albany, N.Y. Vol.9 (1), pp.1-25.

A. Carson (2009) Nox. NYC, New Directions.

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M. Gansel (2017) Translation as Transhumance, trans. by Ros Schwartz. London, Les Fugitives

D. Grass (2021) ‘Translating the Archives: An Autotheoretical Experiment’, in Thinking Through Relation: Encounters in Creative Critical Writing. ed. by Florian Mussgnug, Mathelinda Nabugodi and Thea Petrou. London, Peter Lang.

T. Hermans (1996) ‘The Translator’s Voice in Translated Narrative’, in Target. International Journal of Translation Studies. Vol.8 (1), pp. 23-48.

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​​J. Lahiri (2016) In Other Words. New York, Knopf. 

S. De Lotbinière-Harwood (1991) Re-belle et infidèle, la traduction comme réecriture au féminin; the Body Bilingual, translation as rewriting in the feminine. Québec, Les Editions du remue-ménage/Women’s Press.

E. Mouré (2004) Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person: A transelation of Alberto Caeiro/Fernando Pessoa’s Oguardador de rebanhos. Toronto,House of Anansi Press.

                  – (2014) Secession with Incession. Montréal, Book Thug.


J. Osman & J. Spahr (eds.) (2003) Chain 10: Translucinación. Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press.

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C. Wright (2013) Yoko Tawada’s Portrait of a Tongue. Ottawa, University of Ottowa Press.



Deadline for abstract proposals: April 15th, 2022

Response to proposals: May 15th, 2022

Completed articles due: October 15th