CFP "Mediating Translation in Europe from the Early Modern Period to the 20th Century: Translation Studies and Transnational Literary Historiography"

The Centre for the Study of Text and Print Culture and the Association Research Group "Literature and Translation" invite proposals for 20-minute papers on all aspects of early modern, eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century translation, cross-cultural mediation and text-ideational transfer. The conference takes place at Ghent University/UGent, 20-21 May 2014.

​We are especially interested in paper proposals engaging with either of the following subjects:

1) the material mechanisms (involved in translations) that reflect, engender, and embody cross-cultural contact
2) translations and translation practices embedded within the context of transnational literary historiography.

It is hoped that special attention be devoted to how the translated word is shaped and packaged in the form of a material text and how it is inscribed and cast into a medium, or text object, as manuscript, printed book, or pamphlet. Rather than confining discussion to the study of the literal-textual reception of literature only and to the various (abstractly conceived) cultural contact zones in which readers of one national and linguistic sphere encounter the literary-textual works of another, the conference organisers aim to promote an understanding of translation as a significant tool for the transnational historiography of literature – a history of translation that remains largely to be written. This novel history is conceived to be inclusive and to include considerations of areas such as the economics of the production and publishing of translation, as well as the mediation of the translated texts by material paraphernalia (including illustrations and dedications) calculated to enhance the marketability of the translated work and other paratexts (such as meta-critical prefaces, glossaries, notes, and advertising statements) framing and adapting the original work to a readership hitherto unfamiliar with the text.

The organisers wish to promote a comparative literature approach that helps to understand translation as an act of transfer that involved mediating processes in terms of meaning, form, and ideology: these processes were conditioned by the materiality and various formats in which different translations were published, as well as how different translations of the same text competed not only in textual-ideological terms but also in economic terms in a marketplace where publishers of translations needed to make a profit. In that respect, the publishing of academic translations needs to be contextualised alongside translations designed for learners (such as school children) of foreign languages. Expensive, elite subscription (or patronage-supported) editions should be related to cheaper pocket translations meant for a significantly larger readership. In order to understand these translations and the complex interrelationships between translated texts and national literatures and canons, it is essential to reconceive of translation studies as an important field for the study of transnational historiography. Translators, like authors not engaged in translation, reflect dynamics of exchange but also language and stylistic training; above all, translations, like other literary texts, utilise a vast array of paratexts. Equally importantly, the material form through which these translations was presented to different readers in different cultural contexts reveals important insights regarding the stratification of readership and consumption/reading habits.

Thus not only is the rendering of the literary word expected to be dealt with in contributions to this conference; rather, it is hoped that presenters will engage with the following subjects:

- paratextual media, packaging devices, and marketing strategies that affected and shaped both the novel textuality of the translation but also the reception and consumption of the original text;
- the history of reading and the ways in which texts in both their original language and in translation circulated and were consumed in the same communities, but also competed with each other.

Proposals should be sent by email to and before 5 November 2013. Please provide the title and a 300-word abstract of the paper you are proposing; your name, institutional affiliation, email address, and a brief biography (100 words). Notification of acceptance will be given by 12 November 2013. Working languages are English, French and Dutch.