Translation and Gender (Workshop)

21 May 2018, 17:00 - 19:00

Seminar room SG1, Alison Richard Building

Serena Bassi (Cardiff)

Moderator: Monica Boria


Gender-based metaphors and analogies have often been deployed to describe the act of translation: the notion of a translated text as a beautiful but unfaithful woman (Gilles Ménage, 1654) and the translator as a violator or usurper of the author’s paternity (Schleiermacher, 1813) has continued in modern translation studies. George Steiner (1975), for example, compares translation to the male act of erotic possession and the necessary compensation that goes with it, whereas Gavronsky (1977) sees the translator as the child-rival of the father-creator (‘the phallus-pen’). These metaphors all reveal an anxiety about originality – expressed in patriarchal terms – and a strong unease about difference, i.e. translation, seen as feminine and derivative. Recent theory has questioned this gendered politics of authority and originality arguing that translation demands in fact transgression, and therefore traditional notions of fidelity often miss the point (Derrida, 1979). The emergence of feminism openly advocated the adoption of translation strategies (linguistic and otherwise) that foreground the feminist in the translated text (Simon, 1996 and von Flotow, 1997). Attention has also been drawn on the opposite phenomenon, the erosion of the gender-marked identity of certain texts (for example ‘camp’ or gay jargon) through the elision, pejorative or inconsistent translation of specific lexis (Harvey 1998).

This workshop will explore, among other things, the problems of translating explicitly feminist / queer works into certain cultures, and the relationship between the translator and transgressive texts.



Open to all.  No registration required
Part of Cambridge Conversations in Translation Research Group Seminar Series

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