E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history

Between the nation and the world: The role of translation in the circulation of small/minor/peripheral/less translated literatures

Event Details

  • Date

    Tuesday, 15 June, 12:45 pm – 2:15 pm

    Tuesday, 15 June, 2:30 pm – 4 pm

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history
Convenor
  • Ana Kvirikashvili (Open University of Catalonia)
  • Elisabet Carbó (Open University of Catalonia)
  • Diana Roig Sanz (Open University of Catalonia)
Chair
  • Ana Kvirikashvili (Open University of Catalonia)
Commentator
  • Marketa Krizova (Charles University in Prague)
Panelists
  • Laura Fólica (Open University of Catalonia)
  • Elisabet Carbó (Open University of Catalonia)
  • Maud Gonne (University of Namur)
  • Ana Kvirikashvili (Open University of Catalonia)
  • Golda van der Meer (University of Barcelona)
  • Mushtaq Bilal (Binghamton University, New York)

Papers

  • Laura Fólica
    The tension between Spanish and Indigenous languages in Latin American avant-garde literary journals during the twenties

    The tension between Spanish and Indigenous languages in Latin American avant-garde literary journals during the twenties

    In this paper, we analyse original texts and translation into Spanish of 'peripheral languages' (Heilbron), by tracking them in a selection of Latin American avant-garde literary journals, such as Boletín Titikaka (1926-1930, Peru), Amauta (1926-1930, Peru), Contemporáneos (1928-1931, Mexico), ¡30-30! (1928, Mexico), and Martín Fierro (1924-1927, Argentina). Though all of them represent very different literary experiences from the first decades of the 20th century, these journals nevertheless gather together famous intellectuals concerned with the issues of national identity and literary change. The topic of indigenous (such as Quechua or Nahuatl) or Creole identities and the relationship -and tension- with the Spanish language is tackled thus by means of a singular avant-garde proposal. For the analysis of these corpora, we will use digital tools in order to manage great amount of metadata. Thanks to the creation of a relational database for social network analysis based in the digital environment "Nodegoat", we will be able to collect information relating to translators, authors, translations, reviews of works in the source language, among other data. The aim is to link the selected journals and explore them through visualizations. These will allow us to discover constellations in which unnoticed relationships between cultural agents as well as literary works will emerge.
  • Elisabet Carbó
    The internationalization of Catalan Culture: an overview

    The internationalization of Catalan Culture: an overview

    Since the last decades of the 19th century, the Catalan culture underwent a process of consolidation and structuration of a national literary field. This paper addresses different forms of cultural projection promoted by both Catalan intellectuals and Catalan public institutions during the 20th century. Specifically, the aim of this research is to look into paradiplomatic initiatives developed in the cultural domain with the shared aim of encouraging the circulation of people and books in order to position the Catalan culture in the European cultural field of the early 20th century. Some examples are: the creation of cultural institutions that enabled the existence of networks of intellectual cooperation and the inception of the first translation policies in Catalonia. By delving on the challenges, reformulations and discontinuities of these initiatives, we will analyze their symbolic and political effects from a national and international standpoint.
  • Maud Gonne
    Between Belgium, Flanders and the Others. Literary translation practices and beliefs in Wallonia (1850-1930)

    Between Belgium, Flanders and the Others. Literary translation practices and beliefs in Wallonia (1850-1930)

    The foundation of the Société liégeoise de littérature wallonne in 1856 marks the beginning of a Walloon cultural identity quest in reaction to a Flemish emancipation movement. However, while the Flemish Movement rapidly started to enjoy the fruits of its linguistic and cultural fight, the Walloon movement only accumulated failures and frustrations (Gonne 2018). In a position of “ultraminorization” – sharing a national framework with, on the one hand, major French-Belgian and, on the other hand, minor Flemish literature and culture – Wallonia lacked legitimation outside of its borders. However, the period between 1850 and 1930 (i.e. when the identity quest turned into an exclusively political one and that Walloon languages started to decline) is particularly interesting from a translational perspective. Translation practices from and into Walloon (oral and written), as well as other kind of literary transfers (D’hulst 2012) such as summaries, chronicles, or plagiarism occurred incrementally, while being encouraged both by literary institutions and propaganda organisms. This paper aims first to analyze the dynamics of literary import-export in Wallonia: what literary texts were translated from and into Walloon? From and into what central (a.o. French and German) or peripheral languages (a.o. Flemish and Provençal)? What does it say about Walloon literary development? Second, this study will zoom in a few mediating agents and institutions that stimulated the circulation and translation of Walloon literature: what (cultural, philological, political) agenda did they follow? According to what translation beliefs (Meylaerts 2017)? By studying translation practices and agents in Wallonia during a phase of regional identity building, this paper will shed light on [1] the beliefs and ideologies concerning literary translation in relation to regional/national emancipation as well as on [2] largely unknown European inter-peripheral literary dynamic.
  • Ana Kvirikashvili
    Mapping 30 years of circulation of a less-translated literature: Georgian books abroad since 1991

    Mapping 30 years of circulation of a less-translated literature: Georgian books abroad since 1991

    This paper aims to offer an analysis of the circulation of Georgian literature through translation since Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union to the present day (when Georgian literature has gained some global visibility through important milestones, such as being the Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018). The main source for this analysis will be the catalogue of translations from Georgian literature created by the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. However, as it is not an exhaustive database, it will be complemented with information from interviews with publishers, translators, and literary institutions. With the aim to show the dynamics of the circulation of Georgian literature and to detect focus, regions, and trajectories, the flow of translations will be mapped, and the reasons behind stronger or weaker relations with concrete target languages will be inquired, while in some cases, the role of mediators may emerge as main carriers of cultural transfer (Roig-Sanz and Meylaerts, 2018).Within this analysis, relations between translation and the autonomization of the national literary field (Bourdieu, 2008), the institutionalization of literature, and its constraints (Sapiro, 2010), but also interaction between the local, the regional and the global scales will be shown, often linked with global historical processes: like the end of the USSR and the place of post-soviet countries in the new world configuration, therole of international agencies and foundations as well as international book fairs in the development of the Georgian publishing field, or the ideal of Europe in the Georgian cultural policymaking.
  • Golda van der Meer
    From self-translation to the world: the case of Deborah Vogel and the “choice” of the Yiddish language

    From self-translation to the world: the case of Deborah Vogel and the “choice” of the Yiddish language

    This paper examines how historical events can shape not only the content of a literary work but can modify the relationship with language identity. The ‘choice’ of a language can extend a new meaning, and for many poets choosing Yiddish, a language considered a peripheral language and for some, even a ‘dying’ language, implied an act of resistance. Debora Vogel, an avant-garde Polish poet, presents a unique case as she decided to learn Yiddish in her late twenties. She started writing her poetry in German, Polish, and Hebrew but then decided to switch to Yiddish, creating a whole new poetic language she called “White words”. By writing in a minor language, Vogel, affirmed her national and cultural identity and challenged “the myth of the nation’s monolithic culture” (Cordingly 2013: 7). In discussing Vogel’s choice of self- translating into Yiddish, the aim is to also explore questions regarding the different types of marginality she encountered; linguistic marginality (Yiddish), “extraliterary” marginality (woman) and “intraliterary” marginality (avant-garde) (Kronfeld 1996).The questions that occur are multiple and intriguing: Did these multiple marginalities condemn Vogel’s work to invisibility (Vogel being referred to as the “friend of” or in the “shadows of” Bruno Schulz)? Was she an advocate of this self-marginalization? Has her work been acknowledged in the world of Yiddish literature or in Polish literature? Have her self-translations into Yiddish been translated into universal languages? By whom, and why are they relevant? The work of Vogel is thus proposed as an example of self-translation from major to minor placing her as a cultural mediator between the Polish and the Yiddish culture.
  • Mushtaq Bilal
    The World Novel and the World Reader: The Case of Mohsin Hamid’s Fiction

    The World Novel and the World Reader: The Case of Mohsin Hamid’s Fiction

    This paper looks at how Mohsin Hamid’s fiction challenges the so-called “natural law” of world literature according to which a work of literature has to be first born into a national literature before circulating into world literature. In addition, the paper shows how Hamid’s fiction and its reception strains the category of “national literature.” Using theoretical insights of Vittorio Coletti and Alexander Beecroft, I argue that Hamid’s 2017 novel Exit West can be read as a “world novel” because it narrates the world by framing the displacement of its characters in terms of migratory movement from the Global South to the Global North. The two narrative devices characteristic of the genre of world novel used in Exit West are: delocalization of place and entrelacement, or multi-strand narration. Having established Exit West as a world novel, the paper investigates the question of the implied reader of the world novel. Building on Wolfgang Iser’s phenomenological approach to the reading process, the paper moves towards developing the category of a “world reader” – the implied reader of the world novel. Unlike Iser who understands the implied reader as a solitary individual, I argue that we should look at the “world reader” as a dynamic network of literary agents, acquisition editors, book reviewers, translators, and librarians in the Global North.

Abstract

The global turn has favoured the questioning of epistemological categories and conceptual binarisms and it has brought to light the need to decenter the production of knowledge (Darian-Smith & McCarty, 2017) and to acknowledge the existence of multiple modernities, temporalities, and regimes of territorialisation (Middell & Naumann, 2010). Thus, it has fostered the development of new theoretical approaches and methodologies and the (re)discovery of previously neglected phenomena and objects. Both global history and global literary studies share the same interest in “interactions, processes of exchange and cultural differences in various locations, but also at different points in time” (Rotger, Roig-Sanz, Puxan-Oliva, 2019). Translation is central to this perspective, as a practice tied to processes of literary exchange and cultural transfer (Espagne and Werner, 1987) and as an essential mediating tool in cross-border encounters. Even though critical interest in its role has significantly risen, the enormous scope and scale of the topic, combined with the very focused linguistic and literary expertise required for the study of translation, has allowed for very few comparative studies. This shortage is more evident when it comes to languages referred to as small, minor, peripheral, or less translated; although widely discussed (Deleuze & Guattari; Branchadell & West), these terms remain controversial. Comparative literature, world literary studies, and translation studies have generally focused on central languages or, at best, on the relationships between central and peripheral literatures (Cronin 1999; 2003), but there is still a lot of research to be done concerning inter-peripheral literary exchanges. The recent turn towards globalization, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism calls us to rethink specifically the role of major national literatures and broader regional configurations, as well as the place of smaller literatures and their relations to the wider world. Peripheral literatures not only show how important literature is to nation building, but also how deeply translation affects the autonomization of the literary field (Bourdieu 2008). In this respect, even though some of their texts can be also classified as world literature, minor literatures have been mostly overlooked and it has been assumed that they play a marginal role in the global literary system, and even major works such as The Routledge Companion to World Literature (Damrosch, D’haen, Kadir) have paid little attention to the impact of this new focus on truly small languages and less known literatures. This fact contributes to its minorization, dominance, and exclusion. Postcolonial criticism has focused on a specific segment of world literature—literature from the colonies—but this is not always applicable to the analysis of small literatures from, for instance, Western Europe, which is much more plural with its own core-periphery schemes and power relations. Indeed, there is little theoretical work on the specificities of these cases. Within this framework, this panel offers several case studies related to the translation, circulation and institutionalization of small/minor/peripheral and less translated literatures: Catalan, native languages (indigenous) and Spanish in Latin America, Georgian, and Walloon in Belgium, Yiddish and Czech. They illustrate different degrees of minorization: literatures within a nonstate framework, small literatures with a state framework and minor literatures which crisscross a whole region. This panel will also shed light on key concepts related to the objects of research of global literary history such as cross-border languages, cultural diversity, indigenous people, identity politics, interperipherality, language minority, lesser-translated languages, major vs. minor languages and literatures, national minority, or regional literatures. Digital humanities and big data have a relevant role in some of these case studies, demonstrating how data mining can contribute to the global approach, visibilizing minor agents and shedding light on ignored processes. The different case studies proposed in this panel allow us to move out of the national framework by showing concrete circuits and dynamics that enable the questioning of established hierarchies and fixed conceptions of global history, such as the ideas of giving/receiving culture or the one of innovative centres and imitative peripheries.