Beyond Words: Multimodal Encounters in Translation

5 July 2018 - 6 July 2018

SG1 and SG2, Alison Richard Building


Monica Boria (University of Cambridge)

Angeles Carreres (University of Cambridge)

María Noriega-Sánchez (University of Cambridge)

Marcus Tomalin (University of Cambridge)



Research into the theory and practice of translation has traditionally focused on the conversion of source texts into target texts. However, during the past decade the rise and sprawl of digital media has ensured that interconnections between different visual, aural, and oral modalities have acquired much greater cultural prominence – a development that has destabilised certain time-honoured translation-theoretic paradigms. This shift has directed critical attention towards acts of translation involving more than one modality. Moving beyond text-to-text translation, pioneering work by a number of scholars has begun to explore different kinds of text-to-music, text-to-dance, text-to-image, dance-to-image, music-to-dance, dance-to-text, and image-to-music transfers. While some of these approaches draw upon well-established traditions of ekphrasis and iconology that can be traced back through the centuries, they also probe in new and provocative ways the limits of these activities. Indeed, for some scholars the very term ‘translation’ has become an inadequate one for describing the full range of interactions involving the transfer of meaning from one modality to another. Therefore, terms such as ‘transduction’, ‘transaptation’, ‘transformation’, and ‘transcription’, have sometimes been usefully repurposed. But how do these practices differ from each other, and what are their distinctive respective characteristics? While this is still an inchoate field of enquiry, it has already inspired ground-breaking analytical approaches that deserve careful scrutiny. A core purpose of this event is to bring together both those who produce multimodal ‘translations’ as well as those who theorise about them. By encouraging truly inter and trans-disciplinary dialogue, this conference aspires to impact on research directions in the area of translation and multimodality.

The conference will take the form of a two-day event. Each of the eight main speakers will prepare a paper in advance, and these will be distributed to all the registered delegates two weeks before the start of the event. Each speaker will have a 20-minute slot during the conference in which to give a short verbal summary of their paper, followed by a further 25 minutes of questions from the attendees. In addition, there will be two workshops that will showcase practical multimedia examples of multimodal translation in action. At the end of each day there will be a ‘Round Table’ discussion session, chaired by one of the convenors, that will provide an opportunity to explore in greater detail specific points of connection and disconnection between the presentations and workshops.




The conference is part of the activities of the research group Cambridge Conversations in Translation, based at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH). The event is supported by CRASSH, the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), and the Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community (CLDRC) OWRI project (Translingual Strand).


Administrative assistance: