Deadline Extended - 48th Annual Comparative Literature Symposium at Texas Tech University

Kerry Manzo's picture
February 15, 2016
Texas, United States
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Sexuality Studies, Film and Film History, Linguistics, Area Studies


Translation/Transnation: Languages, Geographies, Genders

Central to the Latin word translatio is the notion of ‘carrying across’ or crossing boundaries. Translation is fundamental to effective human communication, but translation requires more than just moving between two languages. When we translate, we cross many kinds of boundaries – political, linguistic, geographic, and gendered. Thus, whether literary, linguistic, media-based, or artistic, communicative acts require reliable interpreters in order to “carry across” their intended meanings. Yet, this “carrying across” can result in unintended loss and gain, even with the most skillful of interpreters. When a literary work, a piece of art, an idea, or a system moves across boundaries, what is left behind? What resists translation? What is added? What new associations are activated? And what are the political and cultural consequences of these losses and gains?

Related to these issues of loss and gain are questions of consolidation of hegemonic languages, in particular English, versus the loss of circulation of other European and non-European languages from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. The speed of global communication networks has made various forms of instantaneous translation possible. In the domain of languages, literatures, media, and art this has meant that works produced in geographically distant locations and in non-English languages are carried over with relative ease and swiftness to different cultural contexts. The apparent ease of translation glosses over the processes of selection that result in certain works being made available for translation, while other works are left behind.

In the realms of gender and sexuality, we might consider the ways in which identity categories are carried across political, religious, and linguistic boundaries, often with the assumption that no translation is needed or occurs in the process. For example, consider the ways in which the category “woman” has served as a universal determinant of a group bearing the same or similar desires, needs, and beliefs. In the twenty-first century, how do we translate “woman,” “man,” “gay,” “lesbian,” “queer,” “kuchu,” “kothi,” or “bakla”? Much is gained in the translation of gender and sexual identity categories that at once have the possibility to be both liberatory and oppressive.


Some of the questions which emerge from this scenario of disciplinary crossings, rapid translations, and gain/loss, that the papers and panels may address are:

  • How has translation been represented in poetry, fiction, drama, and essays, both historically and in the present?
  • What new meaning(s) of translation – as cross-cultural interaction, influence, or imitation – have emerged across disciplines over the past few decades?
  • How can the methods specific to disciplinary specializations such as literature, art, media rhetoric, and music be useful in analyzing cross-disciplinary translation work as a gain or loss of critical methods? 
  • Do instant translation using tools like Google Translate, Word Lens, or visual components to cultural translations such as media in art galleries and installations, captioning software like Final Cut and Premier, mark a loss or gain for scholarly specializations in languages, media, and art literacy?
  •  Is it possible to think of applications of translation, both as concept and metaphor, to examine the multiple social, cultural, and linguistic domains of the world we inhabit in the new millennium? 
  • What are the gendered, racial, and class implications of translation across linguistic and social boundaries?

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Christopher Merrill, Director, International Writing Program, University of Iowa

Steven Yao, Edmund A. LeFevre Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, Hamilton College, NY

There are no registration fees for this conference.

Please submit 300-word abstracts by February 15, 2016 to Dr. Kanika Batra, Department of English, Texas Tech University at Paper presenters will be informed about the acceptance of their proposals by Feb 15th. The conference will take place on April 22-23, 2016 at Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Kanika Batra, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English, Texas Tech University

Kerry Manzo, Graduate Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies, Texas Tech University

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