Translation at the 2015 MLA

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.45.46 PMTranslationista won’t be at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention this year, even though it’s the 5th anniversary of the legendary 2009 convention at which then MLA President Catherine Porter declared the master theme of the convention “The Tasks of Translation in the Global Context,” inspiring a spate of translation-flavored panels. Fortunately a number of my translator colleagues will be attending, including Heather Cleary (among other things, a founding editor of the Buenos Aires Review), who kindly offered to provide a listing of the most interesting translation-themed events being presented this year. The convention this year is entitled “Negotiating Sites of Memory” and will take place Jan. 8 – 11 in Vancouver. It looks like a great line-up. Here are Heather’s suggestions:

The MLA convention starts this week, which means that right now many of us are probably scrambling around, trying to figure out which events to attend and how many cups of coffee we can safely drink in one day. To help with these calculations, here are some of the best and brightest among the scheduled panels on translation:

Friday, January 9

355. Translation and the MLA: Five Years Later
3:30–4:45 p.m., 15 VCC East

A discussion of the evolving relation between translation and the MLA, five years after Catherine Porter’s presidential theme, “The Tasks of Translation in the Global Context.” Perspectives on the place of translation studies, translation theory, and literary translation in academia. Presentations on current research, recent publications and developments in the field, and challenges and possible actions for the future.

With Esther Allen, Emily S. Apter, Sandra L. Bermann, Sean J. Cotter, Catherine Porter, and Shaden M. Tageldin; moderated by Sergio Waisman.

380. Translation and Interpreting: Flexible Career Paths in Vulnerable Times
5:15–6:30 p.m., 13 VCC East

In addition to academic research and publications, translation and interpreting are relevant as part-time consulting work for a full-time faculty member and as a full-time or part-time career for university students. This roundtable focuses on career options and the relevant skills needed.

Saturday, January 10

498. Fragments of a Vessel: Translation and Memory
12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 121 VCC West

In collaboration with the PEN America Translation Committee, this roundtable explores sites of cultural recovery and reinvention by joining political, linguistic, and aesthetic reflections on translation with a discussion of its role as both a repository and vehicle of cultural memory.

With Suzanne Jill Levine, Bella Brodzki, Sinan Antoon, and Mara Faye Lethem; moderated by Mary Ann Newman and Heather Cleary

Sunday, January 11

687. Beyond Monolingualism?
10:15–11:30 a.m., 17 VCC East

An exploration of the contingent foundations of the monolingual paradigm in literary studies, the reemergence of multilingualism, and their relation with translation.

With Caterina Bernardini, Mrinalini Chakravorty, Avishek Ganguly, Jonathan H. Hsy, Anjuli Kolb, and Yasemin Yildiz; moderated by Avishek Ganguly.

Responding: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

762. Bilingual Authors and Literary Self-Translation
1:45–3:00 p.m., 14, VCC East

Approaches to the topic include Hangping Xu’s “Theorizing Self-Translation: Lin Yutang, Eileen Chang, and United States–China Transnational Politics,” Brandon Rigby’s “Between Language and Self: Interliminality in Self-Translated Bilingual Poetry,” and Joanie Crandall’s “The Self-Translation of David Bouchard: Texts Composed through the Subjectivities of Multiple Lenses.”

Responding: Sergio Waisman; moderated by Giada Biasetti.

This is just a sample of the panels on translation scheduled for this year’s MLA convention; a complete list can be found here… and for the truly brave among you, the full program is available (and searchable) here.

See you in Vancouver!

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