Call for Papers: “Collaborative Translation: from Antiquity to the Internet”/La traduction collaborative : de l’Antiquité à Internet

5-7 June 2014, Paris
Regional Workshop of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS)
Organized by Université Paris 8 – Vincennes-Saint-Denis
Conference venues:  Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Université Paris 8

This IATIS Regional Workshop will explore the diversity of translation practices which challenge the myth that the singular translator could or indeed should assume the place of an “original” author. We hope to encourage scholars to think about the collaborative dimension to all forms of translation, past and present, and to interrogate how creative practices are negotiated within institutional contexts. We welcome contributions which present collaborative translation histories and practices from beyond Europe, thereby contextualizing Western thinking about translation.

The European history of translation has witnessed a tension between an individualistic and a collaborative approach to translation. From Antiquity to the Renaissance, translation was commonly practised by teams comprised of specialists of different languages. At the centre of translation teams experts from different cultures came together to find solutions to translation problems, and the acts of reading and re-writing were commonly separated and multiplied between participants. During the Renaissance, however, prefaces and tracts which discussed translation focused more and more upon an imputed singular act of translation. Indeed, the demands for unity within institutions and discourses of Early-Modern Europe—such as the standardizing of language and the consolidating of faith, household, state, monarchy and Church under their respective singular patriarchs—were coupled with demands for poetic unity in action, time, place and style. These pressures were felt in Renaissance theorizations of translation, which gave priority to an individualist model of translation at the expense of competing ones, such as collaborative translation. Devolving upon the individual the task which was often performed by the many allowed those writing about translation to imagine the translator to be a text’s surrogate author, at once giving the translator the daunting task of equalling the comprehension of the author in the author’s tongue and matching that author’s skill and style in another. The Renaissance thus paved the way for a new concentration on the individual translator, who found his, and rarely her, apogee during the Romantic period, when the writer as artist was idealized as the singular figure inspired with an immaterial, even spiritual, genius, and, following Walter Benjamin’s celebrated reading, one capable of offering up fragments of an ideal language. Nevertheless, Translation Studies broadly accepts Venuti’s argument that in the Modern period a desire emerged to efface the existence and creativity of the translator. Yet a less accepted notion is that this period also gave rise to the fabrication of the myth of the translator as a singular surrogate author. Indeed, translation has rarely, if ever, been an unmediated exchange where one person works in front of a text in isolation from their collaborators and peers, their editors and publishers, their country and its institutions.

The IATIS Regional Workshop in June 2014 is a three-day conference hosted by the University of Paris 8 ¬– Vincennes-Saint-Denis. It focuses on this repressed history of collaborative translation in order to recontextualize translation practices today. In particular, we invite papers which address how new technologies and the internet have expanded the potential for collaborative practices through the use of translation memories, cloud translation, fan sourcing, translation by web communities etc. But we also strongly encourage papers which bring these practices into relief, and so we encourage proposals for papers which might also consider the following topics, without being limited by them:

•    the history of collaborative translation;
•    collaboration in translation outside the West, today and in the past;
•    the cooperation between communities of different cultures for the transmission of their learning, science and literature;
•    pseudo-collaboration and the politics of translating collectively (conflict, negotiation, tactics, power…)
•    collaborations between authors and translators;
•    the exchanges, desires and compromises between translators, correctors, editors, and publishers;
•    collaborations between different parties involved in translating for the theatre, the opera and the cinema;  the influence of companies and public and private institutions in these industries;
•    the influence of affect or the human and interpersonal dimension in exchanges between parties to collaborative translation;
•    the nature of virtual exchanges and their influence upon translation;
•    the effects of institutional pressures to translate collaboratively to increase "efficiency";
•    the challenges of archiving collective works and problems generated by collective authorship.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 October 2013
Conference languages: English and French
Please send abstracts (200-500 mots) to Easychair ( and your questions to

Publication: the organizing committee has secured peer review publication in book and online formats.
Paris Organizing Committee
Dr Anthony Cordingley
Dr Céline Frigau Manning
Dr Marie Nadia Karsky
Dr Arnaud Regnauld

This conference is a collaboration between the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), the Labex Arts-H2H and three research laboratories of the Université Paris 8: Laboratoire EA 1569: Transferts critiques et dynamiques de savoirs; Laboratoire EA 4385, Laboratoire d’Etudes Romanes; and the Laboratoire EA 1573, Scènes et savoirs.