Call for Papers: Paradoxes and Misunderstandings in Cultural Transfers, 22-24 May 2019


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Introduced in Cultural History in the late 1980s to cover the dead angles of comparative studies, the notion of cultural transfer refers to diverse phenomena of circulation, transformation and reinterpretation of cultural and textual goods across geo-cultural areas. As a research method intended to override national frameworks, Cultural Transfer Studies have inspired an increasing amount of interdisciplinary work in various fields such as Literary Studies (e.g., Lüsebrink 2008, Roland 2016), Translation Studies (e.g., Göpferich 2007, Roig-Sanz & Meylaerts 2018), or Cultural and Art History (e.g., Espagne 2013, Middell 2014). Beyond the sole idea of displacement between a source and a target culture, cultural transfers aim to do justice to the heterogeneity of each cultural zone and to the logics of intersection and hybridity by identifying enclaves, networks and vectors of exchanges. Inspired by the promises of ‘entangled history’/’Verflechtungsgeschichte’ (Werner & Zimmerman 2003) – which takes into account the reciprocity and multidirectionality of (re-)transfers –, recent studies have investigated the diversity, intertwining and non-linearity of a broad spectrum of transfer practices, including translations, thus giving voice to mediating activities and agencies largely ignored so far (e.g., D’hulst 2012).

Despite its conceptual relevance and the proliferation of case studies on mediators and border crossing phenomena, Transfer Studies seem to have reached a turning point. On the one hand and as already pointed out by Werner and Zimmerman (2003), even entangled objects, entities and practices do not escape pre-established categorizations and the essentialist pitfalls they entail. On the other hand, the insistence on coincidence and the methodological flattening out of any pre-existing borders, sometimes at the expense of historicity, risk to precipitate the methodological framework toward unproductive relativism. As a result, and because of a certain lack of consensus among theorists (Joyeux 2003), the added value and the merits of Transfers vis-à-vis related concepts in e.g. Postcolonial Studies, Translation Studies, transnational historiography or transcultural studies have been questioned.

What is the specificity of cultural transfers? Can it be thought outside the West European context? Can the notion of transfer help us to overcome disciplinary, national and linguistic borders? Or does it reaffirm them? How should we apprehend the (non-)linearity and asymmetry of transfer processes over various spaces and times? Is it possible to measure the impact of transfers and (how) can we evaluate their relative ‘success’?

Facing these questions and paradoxes, this conference would like to (re)think the viability of the concept of cultural transfer, its current and future challenges as well as its tools, objectives and epistemological framework(s) in an interdisciplinary perspective. The main issues we would like to discuss are related, but not limited, to four topics: (1) linearity, (2) borders/boundaries, (3) competing/connected concepts and (4) impact/success.

1) (Non-)Linearity. Transfer is a continuous process involving various moving sources and targets, such as institutions, languages, cultures, agents. How can we adequately apprehend them across time within or outside the reductionist source-target binarity, with its hierarchical and often too unidirectional frames?

2) Borders/Boundaries. Do transfers and translations create (Pym 1998), enforce (Leerssen 2014) and/or surpass borders? What is the impact of the researcher’s position on the way he/she conceives boundaries?

3) Competing/Connected concepts. Transfer is an omnipresent cultural phenomenon linked to concepts from other disciplines (e.g. hybridity, métissage, in-betweenness, transculturality, pluriculturality, translation, networks, third space, etc.). Do these related concepts go beyond purely conceptual discrepancies, and if so, can concepts from other disciplines bring insight to Transfer Studies, and vice versa?

4) Impact/success. (How) can we evaluate the function(s), impact and success of transfer processes over time? What can we learn from failed transfers? What are the consequences of misunderstandings and how to deal with them? How and when do researchers define a transfer as ‘successful’ or not?

We invite speakers to submit abstracts of maximum 200 words, methodologically and/or theoretically motivated. The conference languages will be English and French.
Please send your abstract and short bio-bibliographical note to both et, before 30 October 2018.

Confirmed keynotes :

  • Elke Brems (KU Leuven)
  • Diana Roig-Sanz (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Organizing committee :

  • Julie Crombois (FNRS, UC Louvain)
  • Dirk Delabastita (U Namur)
  • Maud Gonne (FNRS, U Namur/UC Louvain)
  • Hubert Roland (FNRS, UC Louvain)
  • Elies Smeyers (FNRS, UC Louvain/U Gent)
  • Stéphanie Vanasten (UC Louvain)

Scientific committee :

  • Marnix Beyen (U Antwerpen)
  • Lieven D’hulst (KU Leuven)
  • Jaap Grave (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
  • Joep Leerssen (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink (Universität des Saarlandes)
  • Reine Meylaerts (KU Leuven)
  • Lut Missinne (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
  • Helga Mitterbauer (ULB)
  • Francis Mus (U Liège)
  • Arvi Sepp (VUB/U Antwerpen)
  • Michael Werner (EHESS Paris)

Venue :

Collège Érasme
Place Blaise Pascal 1
1348, Louvain-la-Neuve

References :

  • Bal, M. (2002). Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Brems, E., Réthelyi, O., Van Kalmthout, T. (eds.) (2016). Doing Double Dutch. The International Circulation of Literature from the Low Countries. Leuven: Leuven University Press.
  • Charle, C. (2010). « Comparaisons et transferts en histoire culturelle de l’Europe. Quelques réflexions à propos de recherches récentes », in S. Baby, M. Zancarini-Fournel (eds.), Histoires croisées : réflexions sur la comparaison internationale en histoire (Cahiers IRICE 5 : 1), pp. 51-73.
  • D’hulst, L. (2012). « (Re)locating translation history : from assumed translation to assumed transfer ». Translation Studies 5 (2), pp. 139-155.
  • Espagne, M. (2013). « La notion de transfert culturel ». Revue Sciences/Lettres [online].
  • Even-Zohar, I. 1990. «Translation and transfer ». Poetics Today 11 (1), pp. 73–78.
  • Folaron, D. Buzelin, H. (eds.) (2007). Translation and Network Studies (Meta 52: 4).
  • Gonne, M. (2015). « Recyclages, croisements et transferts dans l’oeuvre de Georges Eekhoud ». Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France 115 (2), pp. 391-407.
  • Göpferich, S. (2007). « Translation Studies and Transfer studies. A plea for widening the scope of Translation Studies », in Y. Gambier, M. Shlesinger, R. Stolze (eds.), Doubts and Directions in Translation studies. Amsterdam/Philadelphie: John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 27-39.
  • Joyeux, B. (2002). « Les transferts culturels. Un discours de la méthode ». Hypothèses, pp. 151-161.
  • Leerssen, J. (2014). « Networks and patchworks: Communication, identities, mediators », in T. Lobbes, M. Gonne (eds.), Crossing Borders, Borders Resisting (Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire 92: 4), pp. 1395-1402.
  • Lüsebrink, H.-J. (2010). „Kulturtransfer und Übersetzung. Theoretische Konfigurationen und Fallbeispiele (aus dem Bereich des Theaters)“, in E. Mengel, L. Schnauder, R. Weiss (eds.), Weltbühne Wien – World Stage Vienna (Approaches to Cultural Transfer 1, Trier), pp. 21-35.
  • Lüsebrink, H.-J. (2008), Interkulturelle Kommunikation: Interaktion, Fremdwahrnehmung, Kulturtransfer (2., aktualisierte und erweiterte Aufl edn). Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler.
  • Middell, M. (ed.) (2014). Cultural Transfers, Encounters and Connections in the Global 18th Century. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag.
  • Middell, M., Roura, L. (eds.) (2013). Transnational Challenges to National History Writing. Houndmills/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Middell, M. (2016). « Kulturtransfer, histoire croisée, cultural encounters ». Docupedia Zeitgeschichte.
  • Pym, A. (1998). Method in Translation History. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.
  • Roland, H. (2016). „Kulturtransfer und Nachdichtung. Über Autoren des belgischen Symbolismus (Maurice Maeterlinck, Émile Verhaeren) und ihre Beziehung zur deutschen Literatur“. Germanistische Mitteilungen 42/2, pp. 45-62.
  • Roig-Sanz, D., Meylaerts, R. (eds.) (2018). Literary Translation and Cultural Mediators in 'Peripheral' Cultures. Customs Officers or Smugglers? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Solte-Gresser, Chr., Lüsebrink, H.-J., Schmeling, M. (eds.) (2013). Zwischen Transfer und Vergleich. Theorien und Methoden der Literatur- und Kulturbeziehungen aus deutsch-französischer Perspektive. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
  • Tymoczko, M. (2003). « Ideology and the Position of the Translator – In what Sense is a Translator ‘In Between’», in Calzada Pérez, M. (ed.), A propos of Ideology. Translation Studies on Ideology – Ideologies in Translation Studies. New York: Routledge.
  • Vanasten, S. (2010). „Hugo Claus, heimlicher Hölderlin-Übersetzer“, in H. van Uffelen (ed.), An der Schwelle. ‘Eigen’ und ‘fremd’ in der niederländischen Literatur. Vienne: Praesens, pp. 221-240.
  • Weissbrod, R., « From Translation to Transfer ». Across Languages and Cultures 5: 1 (2004), pp. 23-41.
  • Werner, M. (2012). « Apports et limites de la triangulation. Le Maghreb dans les relations scientifiques franco-allemandes au XIXe siècle », in A. Adbelfettah et al (eds.), Savoirs d’Allemagne en Afrique du Nord. Saint-Denis: Editions Bouchène, pp. 275-286.
  • Werner, M., Zimmermann, B. (2003). « Penser l'histoire croisée: entre empirie et réflexivité », Annales. Histoire, sciences sociales (58: Éditions de l'EHESS), pp. 7-36.
  • Werner, M., (2013). „Konzeptionen und theoretische Ansätze zur Untersuchung von Kulturbeziehungen“, in N. Colin et al. (Hrsg.), Lexikon der deutsch-französischen Kulturbeziehungen nach 1945. Tübingen: Narr, pp. 23-31.

Published on September 17, 2018