Translation in periodical publications: theoretical problems and methodological challenges for a transnational study on a large scaleCall for contribution, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

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Call for contribution for the International Conference

"Translation in periodical publications: theoretical problems and methodological challenges for a transnational study on a large scale"

Organised by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Estudis d'Arts i Humanitats, MapModern project) and Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV, Centre de Recherche en Littérature Comparée)

Date: September 13-14, 2018

Venue: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Tibidabo 39 (room Josep Laporte), Barcelona

In recent years, translation studies have attracted a growing number of researchers from different fields: from linguistics to comparative literature, from sociology to cultural history. In this conference, we propose to approach translation from the specific perspective of periodical publications.

Literary journals and newspapers constitute a field of increased research interest that can capture the cultural atmosphere of an era, analyse the reception of literary works, and reconstruct international exchange flows and channels of transfer of foreign literature. Despite this, the analysis of the translations circulating in these publications remains fragmented and the theoretical reflections about this subject are still to take place. Furthermore, given the numerous projects for digitalisation of journals and creation of digital catalogues, it becomes essential to deal with issues of methodological order.

The central role that periodicals have in the process of literary reception and transfer, in the circulation of authors and works, in the creation of transnational networks, as well as in the establishment, reinforcement or questioning of transnational cultural hierarchies is undeniable. On the other hand, these publications have specific features and a logic of their own, which differ from book publishing though maintaining a constant relationship with it. Their heterogeneous character, which includes newspapers and magazines, literary supplements, weeklies, etc., confronts us with challenging differences of not only literary, aesthetic or even ideological programs of publications, but also of formats, periodicity, economic resources, and types of public.

Literary translation, on the other hand, is widely present in periodicals. Its practice is configured as a complex phenomenon that brings into play translatological, literary, political-social, and historical-cultural problems. Often journals show great freedom in the practice and publication of translation. Suffice it to think about the different ways of presenting translators, whose names are sometimes indicated and others not; the relations with the source texts, whose reference is not always rigorous and which can even be mediated by a third, and often unacknowledged, foreign language; the places where translations appear in the different sections of a journal, which give them different roles and can "betray" the implicit mechanisms of the representation of foreign literatures and their relationship with the "other"; the presence or not of a theoretical discourse on translation that accompanies the translation practice.

Despite all this, this phenomenon is still little explored from a theoretical point of view; likewise, translations are often separated from the context of their publication and are analysed in their textual dimension as objects independent of any paratextual, literary, political-social and historical-cultural context. This approach usually favours translations signed by renowned translators, often also poets or writers, and they are studied within the entirety of the works of the translator. This results in a canonization, which fails, however, to account for the actual flow of translations or the implications of the transfer of foreign literature in periodical publications.

Due to the specific characteristics of translation in periodical publications, a proper and adequate theoretical-methodological approach is required. This conference aims to review the theoretical issues for an analysis that restores the objects in their contexts of publication, thus combining the theory of translation and the study of periodicals.

The papers will be 20-minute communications and will discuss theoretical-methodological questions, possibly based on the study of specific cases.

Several lines of research can be addressed (non-exhaustive list):

  • Methodologies for the study of translation in periodicals and their relationship with the world of publishing:
    • Is it possible to formulate a specific methodology for the study of foreign literatures and translations published in journals? In this sense, what features should a criticism of translation have that differentiate it from the usual literary criticism? Shouldn’t it be interdisciplinary, given the multicultural and multilingual nature of translation as an object of analysis?
    • What kind of changes marks the transition of translations from the press to the book? What mechanisms of selection and consecration are put into play? What can the translation and the transfer of foreign literature contribute to the study of the relations between the world of press and that of publishing?
    • How to plan the collection and analysis of data from a significant number of scattered translations in a vast corpus of periodicals?
  • The qualitative and quantitative relationship in the analysis of translations in periodical publications:
    • What possibilities does quantitative analysis open for the study of foreign contents and translations in journals? Is it possible to elaborate methods of quantitative analysis of large and heterogeneous corpora so as to overcome the challenges that journals pose to this type of approach, considering their specific characteristics?
    • Is it possible to develop techniques for a qualitative study that put into play the micro-textual analysis or close reading, without neglecting the macrotextual or distant reading? What methods does the researcher have to study such varied semiotic objects (journals, books, translations) altogether?
  • Sociological and hermeneutical approaches to translations in periodical publications:
    • Is it possible to combine intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives, intertextual and sociological questions? How to develop a synthesis of both approaches, ever less considered as antagonistic? Does the study of translation in periodical publications offer new methodological perspectives?
  • Problems related to the digitalization of journals and the creation of digital catalogues:
    • How digitalization of journals and big data in literary studies have changed the archives? How to manage large masses of heterogeneous data with digital tools? What are the possibilities and limits of big data and digital approaches for the study of foreign content and translations in journals? What challenges do periodical publications pose to the categorizations given by the creation of digital catalogues? Would it be appropriate to establish a taxonomy? Given that digitization projects tend to concentrate in the centres, how do we encourage their development in the so-called "peripheries" to achieve more equal knowledge and resources?
  • Methods for analysis of networks of periodical publications and perspectives for a transnational approach:
    • Does the study of international exchanges in periodical publications necessarily guide us towards a global approach and network analysis? Does the study of periodical publications shed light on the combination of the local, national, regional and international levels? In what way does the study on a transnational level help reconsider the relations of hegemony and international cultural hierarchies?


An abstract (300 words), the filiation, and a bio-bibliography of the authors should be sent before February 15, 2018 to Laura Fólica (, Diana Roig Sanz (, and Stefania Caristia (

The communication languages are: English, French, Spanish, Catalan. During the Conference, an extended summary as well as power point presentations (if used) should be written in English to ensure the exchange between the participants.

Participation in the Conference is free, but the registration of speakers and assistants is necessary, due to the limited number of places.

The organizers have planned the publication of a collective work or of a special issue in an international journal (by peer reviewed), after a selection of the dissertations.



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