(Un)translatable & (un)performable
Trinity College, Dublin. 19 – 20th May 2017
Trinity Centre for Literary Translation in association with the Institute of Modern Languages Research
Conference organisers: James Hadley (TCD) and Dominic Glynn (IMLR)
Declarations of practical, political, technical, or ideological impossibility may seem at first glance like dead-ends. However, they can subsequently act as provocations to consider the problem in question more creatively. For example, in 2012 Mo Yan stated that censorship is as necessary as airport security but argued that writing literature is about transcending politics.
The concept of untranslatability is old in translation studies, but continues to gather substantial interest. Barbara Cassin’s Dictionary of untranslatables (2014) has become a bestseller, and there is a thriving discussion among theoreticians about the supposed impossibility of translating certain terms or even texts between languages. As for practice, it has informed, contradicted and ignored theoretical debates. For instance, Schopenhauer attempted to translate Kant despite having previously declared his work untranslatable, and for experimental groups such as the Outranspo, the notion of untranslatability constitutes a challenge to provide a translation.
In performance studies, on the other hand, the notion of unperformability has not been adequately theorised. This is despite plays being frequently labelled unperformable by theatre professionals with regards technical constraints or a perceived lack of interest for live audiences. There has also been considerable work on the fear and repression of performance practices, from Jack Goody’s seminal Representations and Contradictions (1997) to the Observatoire de la vie littéraire’s ongoing project on the hatred of theatre.
The aim of this conference is two-fold. First, it seeks to uncover the relationship between untranslatability and unperformability, to establish correlations between the two terms and underlying paradigms. Second, it aims to subvert the notions in the two respective fields, by suggesting that what is, in fact, denoted by them is simply unrealised potential.
Proposals are invited that consider various aspects of untranslatability and unperformability, and which seek to explore the creative possibilities that each term offers.
Papers are welcome on themes including but not limited to:
· Creative challenge
· Machine learning
· Trans and Post-humanity
Submission of Abstracts
Proposals for single papers should include the following elements: Applicant’s name, institutional affiliation and contact information, an abstract of 250 to 300 words, a short biographical note of no more than 100 words. Accepted papers will be allocated a 30 minute slot in the programme, which includes no more than 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions.
The conference also encourages proposals for complete panels (of 3 or 4 speakers). Such proposals should include the names, e-mail and postal addresses of all speakers, and those of the proposed session chair, who should not be one of the speakers. As well as a 250-300-word abstract for each speaker, proposals should contain a brief outline of the rationale and motivation of the proposed panel (no more than one printed page). One individual involved should be clearly designated as the proposer with overall responsibility for the proposed session.
Please send proposals for single papers and complete panels by e-mail by to the conference organisers, James Hadley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dominic Glynn (email@example.com). The deadline for proposals is 16 January 2017 You should know by the end of January whether your paper/panel has been accepted. The organisers are planning to publish the proceedings of the conference.