Sunday, February 05, 2012

Cultural Translations: Medieval / Early Modern / Postmodern

You are cordially invited to attend a one-day symposium "Cultural Translations: Medieval / Early Modern / Postmodern" to be held at George Washington University in D.C., 9:30 am - 4:00 pm, Sunday, March 25, 2012, sponsored by GW MEMSI. The symposium takes place one day after the Renaissance Society of America annual meeting here (Mar 22-24); if you are coming for the RSA, please consider staying an additional day.

The event is free and open to all who wish to attend. Please stay tuned for updates on the venue and lunch.


Empires are lost and won, and stories are marred and rediscovered through cultural translations--the transformation of genres, manipulation of ideas, and linguistic translation. Cultural translation is one of the most significant modes of textual and cultural transmission from medieval to modern times. Estrangement and transnational cultural flows continue to define the afterlife of narratives. Translation, or translatio, signifying “the figure of transport," was a common rhetorical trope in early modern Europe that referred to the conveyance of ideas from one geo-cultural location to another, from one historical period to another, and from one artistic form to another.

Over the past decade "translation" as an expansive critical concept has greatly enriched literary and cultural studies. In response to these exciting new developments, this one-day symposium brings together leading scholars from the fields of medieval and early modern studies, history, film, English, Spanish and Portuguese, Arabic and comparative literary studies to engage in transhistorical and interdisciplinary explorations of post/colonial travel, globalization, and the transformation of texts, ideas, and genres.

The presentations are designed with both general and specialist audiences in mind. Following in the wake of several recent events in town, namely the Folger's exhibitions on "Imagining China: The View from Europe, 1550-1700" and "Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible" and conferences on "Contact and Exchange: China and the West" and "Early Modern Translation: Theory, History, Practice," and the 58th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) in Washington, DC, 22–24 March, 2012, the Symposium at GW continues and expands these thought-provoking dialogues.

Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Toronto, English and Medieval Studies): Translating the Past: World Literature in the Medieval Mediterranean
Marcia Norton (GW, History): topic to be announced
                        Early Modern
Barbara Fuchs (UCLA, English and Spanish & Portuguese): Return to Sender: "Hispanicizing" Cardenio
Christina Lee (Princeton, Spanish & Portuguese): Imagining China in a Golden Age Spanish Epic
Peter Donaldson (MIT, Literature): The King's Speech: Shakespeare, Empire and Global Media
Margaret Litvin (Boston, Arabic and Comparative Literature): topic to be announced


The event is sponsored by the George Washington University Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI) with the support of the GW Department of English. The symposium is co-organized by Alexa Huang, Jonathan Hsy, and Lowell Duckert.

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