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Translational Spaces: Language, Literatures, Disciplines Conference

Translational Spaces: Language, Literatures, Disciplines Conference
Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 09:30 to 19:30
Seminar Room 10, St Anne's College

A postgraduate and early career conference with André Naffis-Sahely reading from The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin Press, 2019)


World Literature as a discipline has generated much debate, with scholars vying to define and delimit the field (see Damrosch, Apter, Moretti, Casanova, Spivak). This disruption of the definitional confines of World Literature stands alongside a radical questioning of the parameters of Modernism, Postcolonial, and Comparative Literature studies. Our conference aimed to explore the demarcation, widening, and recalibration of such disciplinary constructs. We were interested in how specific (particularly non-Anglophone) authors, languages, literatures, or canons negotiate disciplinary parameters, and how they are impacted by and respond to the asymmetries of power that characterise intersections between languages, locations, and literary marketplaces. The conference asked participants to think about peripheries and centres, not simply as geographic locations, but as relational concepts that structure literary canons, literary value, and condition access to literary fora.  We saw translation as an important feature in the development and understanding of disciplinary and epistemological constructs, and we were interested in how language can be used as a means of consolidating or destabilising institutional boundaries or barriers. As the conference title suggests, there was a need to consider how translation functions beyond a simple movement from one language to another by addressing the spatial component of how all literature is produced through connections between different, but dependent, spaces.

The conference was particularly interested in papers that explored or drew attention to:

  • The redefinition or questioning of the conceptual boundaries of World Literature, Modernism, Postcolonialism, Translation Studies, and Comparative Literature
  • Translation and translationality, and how they can be used to redraw/disrupt theoretical spaces or geographies
  • Translation’s relationship to postcolonial and world literature
  • The position of minor/minority literatures, languages, and authors and their position within the literary canon
  • Definitions/redefinitions of the categories of peripheral/metropolitan
  • The role of translation or translational spaces in opening up or closing down canonical status
  • Migrant or refugee writing and its place within critical and literary disciplines
  • The terms post-West/cryptocolonialism/southern studies

The conference organisers were Eleni Philippou; Yousif M. Qasmiyeh; Joseph Hankinson; Georgia Nasseh; Daniele Nunziata, and Mariachiara Leteo.