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Metaphors in Translation Conference

Saturday, February 26, 2022 - 09:00 to 17:15
Ruth Deech Building, St Anne's College

We were joined by a fantastic audience for a day of roundtables and workshops exploring the relationship between translation and metaphor. The word translation originates in the past participle of the Latin verb transfero—literally meaning to transfer, to carry beyond. The act of translation can thus be understood as a means of subverting the constraints of language-specific boundaries and transporting signification from one linguistic or modal realm into another. Similarly, the word metaphor—usually defined as ‘a figure of speech in which a name or descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to’—is, in fact, the Greek variant of the concept of transfer. With a focus on the interplay between these terms, our sessions considered metaphors for translation, and the challenges and creative possibilities of conveying metaphors across languages and media. Please see below for descriptions of each session and more information on the speakers.

9:00-9:15: Introductory Remarks

9:15-10:45: Postgraduate Roundtable: Metaphors for Translation

11:00-12:30: Workshop with Sophie Seita: Visualising and Performing Translational Metaphors

12:30-13:30: Lunch

13:30-15:00: Translator Roundtable: Translating Metaphors

15:15-16:45: Workshop with Hélène Boisson: Images and Analogies in Children's Literature

17:00-17:15: Closing Remarks


Postgrad Roundtable: Metaphors for Translation

DPhil candidates studying a range of languages and literary traditions discussed metaphors commonly, or less commonly, used to describe and interpret the act of translation and its role in literary culture. This session was be moderated by Dr. Joseph Hankinson and included contributions from Billy Beswick, Isabel Parkinson, Trish Bilia and Hannah Scheithauer.

Moderator: Dr. Joseph Hankinson is the acting Co-ordinator of OCCT and is a Stipendiary Lecturer in English at St Hilda’s College.

Billy Beswick is a second year DPhil student whose research is focused on the relationship between national imaginaries and the (self) representation of ethnic minorities in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.

Isabel Parkinson is a first year DPhil student at St Hugh’s College, researching the English translations of twentieth-century German-language women’s writing, including the novels of Irmgard Keun, Marlen Haushofer, Ingeborg Bachmann and Marlene Streeruwitz. She is particularly interested in examining the narrative techniques used in the (re)creation of female consciousness in novels and their translations, and on emphasising the importance of viewing a translation as embedded in its historical moment.

Trisevgeni Bilia holds a BA in Greek Philology (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), an MA in English Literature (Royal Holloway, University of London), and an MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation (St Anne’s College, University of Oxford). She is now in her second year of a DPhil in Modern Greek at Oxford, and her academic interests include modernism in Modern Greek, English and Irish literature, comparative literature and translation studies. For her doctoral research, she is examining James Joyce’s presence and reception in the Greek literary space, with a focus on Ulysses.

Hannah Scheithauer obtained a BA in French and German (2016-2020) and an MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation (2020-2021) from Jesus College, University of Oxford, and took courses at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (2015-2016) and École Normale Supérieure Paris (2018-2019). She has now returned to Oxford to pursue a comparative DPhil project at The Queen’s College, exploring transnational memory landscapes in contemporary French and German literature.



Workshop with Sophie Seita: Visualising and Performing Translational Metaphors

In this practice-based workshop, we tried our hands at visualising and performing translational metaphors. How can we give shape to metaphors of translation or metaphors within a specific translation? How do we create a physical or tactile translation through manipulating materials or interacting with our environment? What shapes, movements, actions and effects does a particular material invite? How can we transpose an abstract idea or a vivid verbal image into a concrete movement or gesture? Participants were invited to play with materials, such as clay, string, paper, tape, felt fabric, plastic bags, salt, wire, as well as with movement and gesture to create dialogues between written/spoken/signed texts and material objects. The workshop drew on and responded to some theoretical work in queer studies, disability studies, performance studies and dance studies. The workshop was rooted in a spirit of play, curiosity, and experiment, and no preparation or background in crafts or performance was necessary. Participants were invited to bring their own materials and translational metaphors.

Sophie Seita is an artist and academic working with text, sound, and translation on the page and in other media. Her creative practice is based in an expansive understanding of translation: not just from one language into another, but also from various materials, media and discourses into other forms and formats, and her work often visualises, embodies and translates text via performance, lecture performance, poetic dialogue, costume, objects, choreography, video and installation. Most recently, she is the author of Provisional Avant-Gardes (Stanford University Press, 2019) and My Little Enlightenment Plays (Pamenar 2020), and the translator of Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters: Selected Poems (Belladonna*, 2017) and the forthcoming Etymological Gossip: Essays and Lectures (Nightboat Books). She has performed and exhibited work at Flat Time House and UP Projects, the Royal Academy, Bold Tendencies, the Arnolfini, Parasol Unit, Raven Row, the Serpentine, [SPACE], Art Night, Taller Bloc (Santiago, Chile), SAAS-Fee Summer Institute of Art (Berlin), JNU (New Delhi), Company Gallery, Issue Project, Goethe Institute, and La MaMa Galleria (all NYC), Heong Gallery (Cambridge), Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris) and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor at Boston University, co-organises the Sound/Text seminar at Harvard, and is a tutor on both the Alternative Education Programme at Rupert in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the MSt in Writing for Performance at Cambridge University.


Translator Roundtable: Translating Metaphors

This session explored the challenges and creative possibilities of translating metaphors in practice. Moderated by Prof. Patrick McGuinness, the roundtable featured literary translators working across diverse language combinations: Peter Bush (Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, and French to English), Mohini Gupta (Hindi to English, English to Hindi), and Ayça Türkoğlu (Turkish and German to English).

Moderator: Prof. Patrick McGuinness is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Fellow at St Anne’s College. His research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century French literature, French and Belgian Symbolism and Anglo-American Modernism. He is also a celebrated poet and novelist, and has recently published Real Oxford, a reflection on the familiar and often unnoticed people and places of the city where he has worked and lived for over thirty years. McGuinness has translated the work of Gilles Ortlieb, Jorge Manrique, Hélène Dorion and Stéphane Mallarmé.

Peter Bush is an acclaimed literary translator of Catalan, Spanish, French and Portuguese into English. He has translated the work of over twenty authors, including Josep Pla, Teresa Solana and Juan Goytisolo. Bush has also taught literary translation at a range of institutions including Middlesex University and the University of East Anglia, where he directed the British Centre for Literary Translation. Dedicated to advancing both the practice and study of literary translation, he has held positions on the Literary Translation Committee, the Committee for Literary Translation in Higher Education, the American Literary Translators Association and the International Translators Federation. He is also the founding editor of In Other Words, a journal of essays and interviews spotlighting the work of literary translators.

Mohini Gupta is a DPhil candidate at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. She was selected as the Charles Wallace India Trust Translator-Writer Fellow in 2017 for creative writing and translation, hosted by Literature Across Frontiers. An alumna of SOAS University of London, she has been a Research Fellow at Sarai, CSDS; and a translator-in-residence at the Sangam House international writers’ residency in Bangalore. She has written on languages, literature and translation for publications such as Huffington Post, The Caravan Magazine,, and the WorldKidLit Blog. Her English-Hindi translations have been published by Tulika Publishers.

Ayça Türkoğlu is a literary translator working from German and Turkish. She studied European and Middle Eastern Languages at Oxford before completing an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2015. She is a member of the Shadow Heroes Collective which uses translation to foster linguistic curiosity and critical thinking in schools and is a judge for this year's Schegel-Tieck Prize for translations from German. Her most recent translations include Selim Özdoğan's Anatolian Blues Trilogy (co-translated with Katy Derbyshire) and Susanne Wedlich's Slime: A Natural History, published by Granta.


Workshop with Hélène Boisson: Images and Analogies in Children's Literature

This workshop examined how metaphors, analogies and illustrations interact in the process of translating children's literature. Hélène Boisson discussed the approaches she has taken to several examples, and participants were invited to try their hand at translating a range of passages. No knowledge of French was required.

Hélène Boisson teaches French language and translation at École Normale Supérieure de Paris. Additionally, she works as a translator of German and English fiction and non-fiction into French, with a particular interest in children’s literature. She has also translated works in Arabic in collaboration with the late Houda Ayoub.


Closing Remarks: Prof. Matthew Reynolds is the Chair of OCCT and the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation programme. He is also a Professor of English and Comparative Criticism and Fellow at St Anne’s College. He has written and edited several studies of literary translation, including The Poetry of Translation: From Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue, Likenesses: Translation, Illustration, Interpretation, Translation: A Very Short Introduction, Minding Borders: Resilient Divisions in Literature, the Body and the Academy and Prismatic Translation. He also leads the Prismatic Jane Eyre project, which examines the hundreds of translations of Charlotte Brontë’s novel—exploring how translators and readers across the world have seen the work in different lights since the mid-nineteenth century.

Metaphors in Translation Poster