Found in Translation? The Aesthetic and Sociocultural Functions of Literary Translation between 1890 and 1939 in Europe
One of the expressions of the cultural turn in the human sciences is increased attention paid to translation and its processes. Concomitantly, the concept of translation is brought into a wider context of cultural practice, where it acquires new meanings and possibilities of conceptualisation. At the same time, the shift in focus towards translation can inspire traditional disciplines to undertake intercultural and interdisciplinary studies of translation viewed as the intersection of literary, translatological, cultural, social, economic and legal history.
For a long time, translators were invisible to translatological approaches concentrating on linguistic and semantic analysis, as well as artistic evaluation, of translation in relation to the original. The starting point of the conference is the interdisciplinary project Found in Translation. Emil Saudek and Jewish, Czech and German interactions in the ‘creative milieu’ of Vienna, which focuses on historically contextual study of translation. The conference will examine the active role of translators in intercultural literary communication, asking about their motivations, which might not be primarily aesthetic, but also social or economic. It will look at the socioculturally integrative function of translation for translators, while simultaneously investigating the significance of translation in the development of aesthetic modernism. The conference will concentrate on the changing position of the translator in translation processes and on cultural interaction through translation between “major” and “minor” languages and cultures, doing so particularly in relation to politically constructed cultural borders and conflicts and multicultural and multilingual milieus (e.g. Vienna prior to 1914).
It will pose questions regarding the impacts of the political revolutions tied to the transition from an imperialist order, whether to that of nation states with multinational democracy or the authoritative regimes and dictatorships of the interwar period, on translation processes and on the self-reflection of translators.
The conference will focus on translators of modern literature, beginning with early naturalist and symbolist modernism at the end of the 19th century, through the birth of expressionism, the avant-garde and other literary movements, until the end of the 1930s. Although contributions concentrating on Central Europe will be given preference, comparative papers with an European scope are also welcome.
1) The significance of translation for paradigmatic aesthetic transformations (the birth of Symbolism, Expressionism, avant-garde movements, New Objectivity etc.) and the development of new aesthetic forms and genres in European literatures.
2) The theoretical grasp of translation in various fields (e.g. literary and cultural history, translations studies, sociology).
3) Translators as historical actors – their linguistic biography, their mobility and their aesthetic and cultural approach to translation; the relationship between translator and author; poets and writers as translators.
4) Translation as a means of sociocultural integration, primarily with regard to Jewish translators and women-translators.
5) The professionalization of translators and the building of a translation infrastructure, the economic and legal contexts of translation; the development of book editions and journals focusing on translated literature, publisher and editorial strategies, the popularisation of translation and its self-analysis; state (public) support for translation, translation awards…
6) Urban culture and translation.