ACLA 2023 panel on "Humor and Amusement in Translation: Not Losing it"

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association 2023

In a world gradually opening itself to diversity, cultural perceptions are greatly influenced by translation of emotions, and their expressions in public discourse and art. But what happens when humor is translated? Humor in literary discourse harnesses amusement arising from perception of differences and/or contrasts, and as such, it is especially challenging to ensure that it retains its amusing quality despite the change in linguistic and cultural registers of perception.

This panel seeks to discuss humor and allied linguistic and literary devices intended to amuse and/or provoke laughter such as irony, punning, parodying, etc. in translated texts, broadly, across media and historical era. The panel will emphasize strategies and methods to circumvent the challenges posed by the same. The aim is to look for methods which make translating humor less frustrating and more effective (and perhaps, affective) in terms of linguistic and cultural expression.

Potential topics could include, but are not limited to:

Possible points of convergence of theories of translation and theories of humor

Recreating the “affect” of amusement through translation

Political humor in speeches, cartoons, etc.

Importance of and challenges to translating non-Anglophone comic literature

Culture-specificity of humor and “Postcolonial humor”

Race, humor, and translation

Working between different cultural and temporal registers of sexism (jokes about women, hijab jokes, rape jokes, casually sexist jokes, gay jokes, etc.)

Media and genre-specific challenges (such as watching sit-coms with subtitles)

Which humor can/should/needs to be omitted, “un-translatable” humor

Translating funny gibberish and nonsense

Please submit your proposal (max. 350 words) and CV through the ACLA site by October 31st. Questions for the organizer are welcome at