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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Structuring Knowledges: Translating Structures/Structuring Translations - Public Lecture 'The Social Factors Determining the Market for Translations of Literary Works'

22nd February 2018, 17:00 to 18:30, ER149, Elvet Riverside, Durham University, Professor Gisèle Sapiro, Centre national de la recherche scientifique; École des hautes études en sciences sociales.

Taking as a point of departure Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of habitus as an attempt to bridge the gap between structure and agency, this strand argues that translation can productively be seen as a structure structured by such social phenomena as language and culture or as a structure structuring, i.e. influencing, their development. Expanding beyond the field of Translation and Interpretation as traditionally defined, the activities of this strand will thus explore how translation structures and is structured by its various engagements and applications. Such an exploration is timely, as the AHRC Translating Cultures funded theme recognizes, in an era of ever-increasing global connectivity, international crisis, and planetary precarity all of which necessitate new forms of intercultural exchange.

This strand aims to foster constructive dialogue between translators and interpreters, experts in translations studies, and scholars making use of translation in other fields. What can these different groups learn from each other about translation and its study that might alter or even transform disciplinary limitations? More broadly, what can we learn through comparative and interdisciplinary dialogue about how translation functions as a travelling concept, used in more or less metaphorical ways in a range of disciplines? Finally, given that we work in an academic climate in which interdisciplinarity and collaboration are both constantly being promoted, what might translation have to teach us about the opportunities and pitfalls of collective work requiring mediation across disciplinary boundaries both within and beyond the academy?

Translating Structure/Structuring Translation is organized by Marc Schachter (MLAC, French), Sergey Tyulenev (MLAC, Translation Studies) and Binghan Zheng (MLAC, Translation Studies) and co-sponsored by the IAS, the Translation Repositioned stream of the AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative, and Durham’s Centre for Intercultural Mediation. The strand will host three speakers, one in each term.

The programme:

In Michaelmas term (19 October 2017), the strand will co-sponsor a talk and a workshop with Dr. Karen Emmerich, an award-winning translator and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. Dr. Emmerich has translated nearly a dozen book-length works of poetry and prose from Modern Greek to English. In Dr. Emmerich’s talk, she will challenge one of the commonplaces undergirding how we tend to think about translation, namely that it is a process by which a source is transferred into a derivative form in another language. Dr. Emmerich will explore how literary translations are not only structured by but also structure originals. Dr. Emmerich will also facilitate a dialogue entitled “Translation as Advocacy: For and Against” which will draw on her experiences as a translator and interpreter working with refugees in Greece to dwell on the problem of advocacy, the discomfort of speaking for, and by extension the idea that literature in translation always becomes about representation.

In Epiphany Term (22 February 2018), the strand will host two events by Professor Gisèle Sapiro. Professor Sapiro is Director of Research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique and Director of Studies and Vice President for International Affairs at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Her research has explored among other topics the notion of the responsibility of the author and how asymmetrical political and economic relations structure literary markets. Professor Sapiro will speak to us drawing on her work on the sociology of translation and international cultural exchange.

Literary translation as a vehicle of intercultural exchanges:

A sociohistorical approach

Professor Gisèle Sapiro Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Abstract: The conception of literary translation as a vehicle of intercultural exchanges is closely related to the notion of the diversity and specificity of cultures. The presentation will examine three historical manifestations of this conception: the role of literature in the teaching of foreign languages; the translation policies of international bodies such as the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of the nations and UNESCO; the contemporary French translation policy in support of cultural diversity in the book market.

Gisèle Sapiro is Professor of sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Research director at the CNRS (Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique), member of Academia Europaea. Her interests include the sociology of culture and of intellectuals, as well as the history and the epistemology of the Social Sciences and the Humanities. The author of La Guerre des écrivains, 1940-1953 (1999; English trans.: French Writers’ War, 2014), La Responsabilité de l’écrivain. Littérature, droit et morale en France, XIXe-XXIe siècles (2011) and La Sociologie de la littérature (2014 ; Spanish transl. 2016 ; Japanese, 2017), Los Intelectuales : profesionalización, politización, internacionalización (2017), she has also (co)edited Pour une histoire des sciences sociales (2004), Pierre Bourdieu, sociologue (2004), Translatio. Le marché de la traduction en France à l’heure de la mondialisation (2008), Les Contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale (2009), L’Espace intellectuel en Europe (2009), Traduire la littérature et les sciences humaines (2012), Sciences humaines en traduction (2014, online), Profession? Ecrivain (2017).


Professor Gisèle Sapiro will give a seminar on 22 February (12-1.00 pm) in ER152 to discuss her essay “Translation and Symbolic Capital in the Era of Globalization: French Literature in the United States.” Anyone who would like a copy of the essay should feel free to contact Dr Marc Schachter.

She will also give a lecture on 22 February (5-6.30 pm) in Elvet Riverside (ER) 149. She will speak on “The Social Factors Determining the Market for Translations of Literary Works.”

In Easter Term (7 June 2018), Todd Reeser, Professor of French and Director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh, will lead a workshop drawing on his award-winning book, Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance. This event will be co-organized with Dr. Jennifer Ingleheart of Durham’s Department of Classics and Ancient History. Broadly speaking, the workshop will explore the reciprocal structuring of translations of classical texts about sex and the social organization of “sexuality,” a particularly fraught relationship given the incommensurability of ancient, early modern and modern forms of sexuality which also diverge widely depending on geographic location and social strata among other variables.

All events will be open to the public. It is the organizers’ hope that the conversations sparked by these events will provide the impetus for further, more broadly collaborative endeavours.

View poster here.

Contact marc.schachter@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.