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Radical Translations

Sanja Perovic and Rosa Mucignat speak at the inaugural History and Translation Network conference at the University of Talinn


Dr Perovic and Dr Mucignat speak on a panel with Professor Patrick Leech, titled Translators as mediators: discrete cultures and innovative spaces in revolutionary discourse, discussing the Radical Translations project from two different approaches.

This panel will look at translators as liminal figures who can introduce innovation into apparently stable cultural systems. Speakers will present examples from the revolutionary period in Europe (1780-1815) and examine the extent to which translation constitutes a space for cultural transfer and innovation. They will raise questions about the crossed temporalities of radical translations, which reactivate earlier source texts to make political interventions into the present. The overall aim is to problematize notions of hermetic and stable linguistic and national cultures which, paradoxically, can underpin methodologies and perspectives in linguistics, translation theory and historical work on cultural transfer. The papers will take as their starting point the exploratory research conducted by the team of the UK-based project ‘Radical Translations: The Transfer of Revolutionary Culture between Britain, France and Italy (1789-1815)’, a project which has constructed a database of approximately 800 revolutionary-era translations and a prosopography of some 250 translators in order to map the circulation of radical ideas and language in this period. The papers will focus on the methodology of this research and the way that its bibliographical and prosopographical approach can be used to recover the plurality and complexity of revolutionary ‘radicalism’, on the ways that this research can lead to an innovative visualisation of a translation network, and on the implications this can have on the ways that translation can be perceived as a cosmopolitan act.

Dr Perovic's paper is titled: Radical Translations: Texts, People, Chronologies, Method. The paper introduces the project by showing how a double-pronged bibliographical and prosopographical approach can be used to recover the plurality and complexity of what we call revolutionary ‘radicalism’ as it changed course over time. Along the way, it will also make remarks about the challenges of writing a histoire croisée of translation in this period. It will focus on how to construct specific chronologies that allow translations and revolutionary events to be thought together and show how digital tools can be used to overcome some shortfalls of ‘national’ chronologies.

Dr Mucignat's paper is titled: Radical Translations: Visualising A Translation Network. The paper addresses the nexus between translation, the transfer of political ideas, and cross-national networks connecting translators, authors, and publishers. Here the focus will be on network sketches and other kinds of data visualization displays that the project has produced in collaboration with King’s Digital Lab. It will explore what a network of translation looks like, and how much it differs from, or overlaps with, better known intellectual or social networks

Find out more about the conference here