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Translating on the Fault Line

Martin Munro and Michaël Ferrier in conversation

On Thursday March 25 at 5pm EAST, Professor Martin Munro (Director, Winthrop-King Institute, Florida State University) and writer and Professor Michaël Ferrier (Chuo University, Tokyo) will be in conversation on "Translating on the Fault Line: Theories and Practices of Translation."

This discussion will be bilingual (English/French)

The recent controversy surrounding the identity of the individuals chosen to translate Amanda Gorman's poetry has put the figure of the translator into the spotlight. While translators have often been made peripheral to, and even at times invisible within, the circulation of texts, at the same time that their existence is perpetually threatened by the advent of automatic translation, the translator, and translation itself, have suddenly become the subject of heated discussion in major media platforms. 

What is the relation, the specific dance, that might occur between the translator and the translated? What does it mean to translate a text? Is it always a gesture of hospitality, humility, and empathy, or rather an ambivalent and equivocal one subtended by potential tensions, transfers, displacements, appropriations, betrayals, and misinterpretations? As Tiphaine Samoyault reminds us, translation is a practice that is also related to a history of violence. It is both the confrontation with otherness and the very otherness itself at work within the passage from one language to another.

Yet as an act that can be based on a desire to do justice to texts and to maintain their justness, translation makes us face the untranslatable itself, what Barbara Cassin identifies as the symptoms of linguistic difference that precisely keeps being translated (or not) over and over again.  

Michaël Ferrier is a writer, professor at Chuo University (Tokyo) and director of the Groupe de recherches Figures de l’Étranger. He has authored numerous texts on art and literature, and has penned several stories and novels, including Sympathie pour le Fantôme, (2010), Mémoires d’outre-mer (2015), and François, portrait d’un absent (2018, Prix Décembre), all published by Gallimard. He has also reflected on the Fukushima catastrophe in Fukushima, récit d’un désastre (Gallimard, 2012, Prix Édouard-Glissant).

Martin Munro is Eminent Scholar and Winthrop-King Professor of French and Francophone Studies. A specialist in Francophone Caribbean literature and culture, he previously worked in Scotland, Ireland, and Trinidad. He is Director of the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University. He has translated Ferrier's Mémoires d'Outre Mer as Over Seas of Memory (Nebraska University Press, 2019).

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