Making Things Public: Acts of Translation

07/12/2017, 16:00 - 18:00


A research seminar as part of the Translation, Adaptation and Performance research theme at the School, with guest speaker Professor David Johnston (Queen’s University Belfast).

What does translation do? In what ways does it contribute to the public space? How does it account for itself there? Most literary translators would not hesitate to provide a single answer to all three questions. They would point, correctly no doubt, to the fact that translation brings to life books that would otherwise be dead by virtue of distance across time and space, that it functions effectively as a cultural go-between, enriching collective life in the process. Translation, in this conception, makes things available. But if we think about the public space not so much as an arena of production, exchange and acquisition, where the symbolic capital of the translator and the cultural capital of translations are manifest, but as a realm in which we build consensus and bring experiences into contact, testing both social inclusion and exclusion in the process, then we might be less interested in translation as second-order writing and more as both a critical attitude and a paradigm for deeper processes of recognition and misrecognition.

Professor David Johnston directs the Centre for Translation and Interpreting in the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s University Belfast. In addition to his academic writing, which is concerned with translation ethics, and translation as a creative practice, he is a multi-award winning translator for the stage, with over thirty different translations professionally performed by, among others, the BBC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and the Gate Theatre in London, the Lyric in Belfast, the Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company, the La Micro Theatre Company of New York, Sacred Fools in Los Angeles, and Ride On Theatre and Griffin Independent in Sydney. Most of his translations are published by Oberon Books. It was recently noted in the journal Comedia Performance that he is ‘generally recognised as the most innovative translator of the Spanish Golden Age in the twenty-first century’.

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Translation Adaptation and Performance Seminar Series