Professor Charles Forsdick keynote 6 November

Professor Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool and AHRC Translating Cultures Theme Leadership Fellow will be delivering a keynote address at the ILC symposium New Directions for Research in Language and Culture on 6 November 2013. Registration has now closed for catering purposes, but all are welcome to attend the sessions.

Translating Cultures: Variations on a Theme

6 November 2013, 10:15 – 11:00

Chair: Professor Mary Orr


The presentation responds to the increasing public interest in questions of translation, and also to the growing visibility of matters of language in public policy and debate. It also draws on my experience as theme leadership fellow for the ā€˜translating culturesā€™ theme of recent innovations in research in this area. This AHRC initiative now brings together over eighty projects ā€“ including a significant number of funded research networks ā€“ from across a wide range of disciplinary fields the shared aim of which is to explore the role of translation, understood in the broadest sense of the word, in ā€˜the transmission, interpretation, transformation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narrativesā€™.

I will consider the ways in which close attention to the implications of language and translation has had significant implications in recent years for a number of disciplinary fields, allowing us to move beyond the implications of the ā€˜translation turnā€™ in order to explore the ways in which processes of translation may, in many different ways, be seen to be constitutive of cultural formation. I will also focus on a number of recent and ongoing research projects that reveal the centrality of translation to the circulation of ideas, ideologies and forms of knowledge between geographical locations, historical moments and cultural contexts. My overall aim is to consider these developments in the light of discussions about the current state and future direction of Modern Languages and of cognate areas of study, underlining the core contribution to such cross-disciplinary innovations of research and scholarship on language and culture ā€“ and stressing the importance of advocating (in Mary Louise Prattā€™s terms) ā€˜not for particular languages but for the importance of knowing languages and of knowing the world through languagesā€™. I will also focus on the urgent and related project of enhancing public understanding of research in these areas, not least in relation to key questions relating to migration and mobility, multiculturalism and multilingualism, trans/national identities, and conflict and security ā€“ as well as the importance of challenging what Michael Cronin has described as ā€˜the desire to maintain the benefits of connectedness without the pain of connectionā€™. Finally, the presentation underlines the role of units such as the Institute for Language and CultureĀ in realizing these aims, in imagining new types of collaboration, and in achieving new forms of wider communication.

Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool)

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