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New Perspectives on Translation: Insights into the Performative and Cognitive Work of Translators

Call for Papers: ARTIS Inaugural Symposium, University of Manchester, 13 May 2014

ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies), a new research training initiative building on the long and successful history of the Translation Research Summer School, will hold its inaugural event at the University of Manchester on 13 May 2014. 

New Perspectives on Translation is a one-day symposium aimed primarily at doctoral students and early career researchers. We invite proposals for short, ten-minute presentations on ongoing research projects that introduce new perspectives on the performative and cognitive work of translators. Each presentation will be followed by ten minutes of discussion and feedback from leading scholars in the field, including the keynote speakers.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Sandra Bermann (Princeton University, US)
Performativity in Translation Studies: Language, Action, and Interaction (see full abstract below)

Professor Hanna Risku (University of Graz, Austria)
The Leaky Translation Process: New Perspectives in Cognitive Translation Studies (see full abstract below)

Abstracts of 300 words should be sent by 31 March 2014 to paulina.burczynska@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk  Your abstract should state explicitly how your proposed presentation fits with the themes of the keynote sessions, and give a clear indication of the theoretical framework and research methods you are drawing on. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 10 April 2014.

Attendance is free. Online registration will open on 17 March 2014 (link to registration facility will be circulated shortly).


Performativity in Translation Studies

Language, Action, and Interaction

Professor Sandra Bermann (Princeton University, US) 

This talk explores why thinking about translating as ‘performing’ can yield essential insights for translators and translation studies scholars. Nowhere has the centrality of ‘performance’ to translation been more acknowledged than in the domain of literary translation. In ‘hearing the “voice” of the author and the sounds of the text in her own mind and then interpreting through different words, in her own voice’ (Grossman 2010: 11-12), the translator performs the original for a new readership or audience. This talk, however, goes beyond the notion of translation as ‘performance’, in the sense of doing or acting, focusing instead on ‘performativity’, as conceptualised in language and gender studies.

I will begin my critique of performativity and its relevance to translation studies by looking at Austin’s (1962) concept of ‘performative statements’. Austin’s conceptualisation of performativity aptly encapsulates the capacity of literary translators to create (rather than describe) a world filled with characters, places and ideas. In signalling a shift of focus from what language says to what language does, Austin’s performatives also reflect the growing interest of translation scholars in what translation does in certain contexts. I will then move on to consider Derrida’s (1988) views on the performative quality of literary translation. For Derrida, the fact that language is ‘iterative’ (a system of signs that can be repeated and reused in different contexts) and has ‘inaugural power’ (it does something in and to the world) is particularly evident and worth examining in relation to translated texts and their potential for literary action. Finally, the notion of performativity will be examined in terms of the cultural category of gender, as illustrated by Butler’s (1990, 2012) claim that gender is not an essence one possesses, but what we create by repeated acts over time. The final part of the talk will speculate more generally on what these insights can tell us about translation's role in social action and interaction.


The Leaky Translation Process

New Perspectives in Cognitive Translation Studies

Professor Hanna Risku (University of Graz, Austria) 

Cognitive science approaches seek to understand and explain how cognitive processes work – especially how translators produce translations. In this presentation, I discuss current developments in the cognitive strand of translation studies in the individual/network field. I begin with a brief description of TS and the particularities of the cognitive science perspective, then go on to discuss how selected contemporary approaches in cognitive science can contribute to the transition from cognitive to socio-cognitive TS. In doing so, I seek to demonstrate that the individual and network perspectives are intrinsically linked, and that this change in perspective moves translation management into centre stage in cognitive TS. Based on current developments and insights, I make several suggestions for the cognitive TS field, some of which might also be of relevance for TS as a whole. I formulate 10 cognitive TS hypotheses that also merit the “socio-cognitive TS” name and address the goals, object, interdisciplinary nature, perspectives and key focus of cognitive TS. These hypotheses also require a number of methodological innovations in cognitive TS. From a methodological perspective, the observation of the parameters of isolated phenomena in a laboratory setting must be augmented by observation of dynamic courses of action in which people interact in the field with their environments and artefacts (instruments, technologies). Social processes and embeddedness become central aspects of the observation and analysis.

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