Call for Papers: Translating Gender in Modern Austrian Literature (IGRS London, 8 May 2013)



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Conference: “Translating Gender in Modern Austrian Literature”

8 May 2013

Venue: University of London, Senate House, G35

Co-organised by Heide Kunzelmann (IBC London) & Birgit Friedrich (Centre of Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies, Nottingham)

Keynote lecture: Allyson Fiddler (Lancaster University)

This conference focusses on English translations of 20th century Austrian literature, with special emphasis on the aspects of gender and the translator’s role in the process of cultural transfer.

Despite a paradigmatic shift in translation theory in the wake of Laurence Venuti’s influential study The Translator’s Invisibility (1995), that suggests that translation is a form of literature in its own right, many critics and publishers remain reluctant to acknowledge the translator’s involvement in the creation of a new text or the status of these texts as anything more than a duplicate in another language. However, feminist translation theory proposes that translation is not a ‘carrying across’ but a reworking of meaning (Barbara Godard, 1995) and that Feminist writing and translation meet in their common desire to foreground female subjectivity in the production of meaning (Sherry Simon, Gender in Translation. Cultural Identity and the Politics of Transmission, 1996 ).

For Godard and many other feminist translation theoreticians, the feminist discourse offers the possibility to subvert and challenge patriarchal discourses, so that the source text can be manipulated in accordance with the particular ideology of the translator. Experimental work on translation showed how flexible and creative discourses as well as translators and translations can be, intimating that it may well be possible to ‘do (and rewrite) one’s gender’ in individual ways.

The conference aims to open a discussion about the aspects of gender and identity in English translations of texts by Austrian writers and poets that have already been translated up to a few decades ago, such as Stefan Zweig, Arthur Schnitzler, Thomas Bernhard, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek or Marlen Haushofer as well as by writers, whose works have recently been translated into English, like Lydia Mischkulnig, Doron Rabinovici, Daniel Kehlmann, Evelyn Schlag, Anna Kim, Thomas Glavinic or Arno Geiger. Given the literary quality of works by Austrian writers and their standing in the field of German speaking literature, the organisers are particularly interested in the extrapolation of the connections between discourses of national identity and gender in translations, also in relation to market trends.   

Papers are invited on twentieth and twentyfirst century Austrian fiction and poetry in relation to:

* the imagery of masculine and feminine and the aspect of gender identity in translation

* female subjectivity in translation

* the connection between translation, nationalism and gender

* taboos and translating sexual language / deep personal, political and ideological underpinnings

* performative aspects of gender in connection with perfomative aspects of translation

* the potential of translations to reflect and draw attention to aspects of the source text that are new, or innovative, or deemed ‘useful’ for the new readership

* practical issues of translating gender and identity aspects

Contributions from translators with a practical angle and Postgraduate students are particularly encouraged!

Please send your abstracts of no more than 250 words to both organisers, Heide Kunzelmann ( and Birgit Friedrich (


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