Fifth Annual "Northrop Frye Centre Lecture"

The Northrop Frye Centre presents:

Traumatic Translations, NFC Annual Lecture, Oct. 4 2018

Traumatic Translations: Transmitting Cultural Trauma Narratives 

Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 5:00pm
Helena Buffery, University College Cork 
Alumni Hall, Old Vic, 91 Charles st. West

If translation is invoked repeatedly in the literature on trauma as a metaphor for the problematics of identifying, metabolizing and expressing the origin and impact of traumatic experience, in Translation Studies the process of translation itself has often been represented as structurally analogous to trauma in its association with temporal and spatial displacement of origins, with repetition, with anxiety over the relationship to the source text, identity and equivalence. Here I will explore the multiple potential affordances evoked by the concept of traumatic translations in reference both to the ways in which experiences of individual and social trauma are “translated” into cultural narrative and, most especially, what happens to these narratives in translation into other social narrative frames. This paper brings together two aspects of my recent work: on the one hand, performance-inflected work on the way in which memories of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath are performed in contemporary theatre and performance cultures; on the other translation studies-inflected work centering on processes of interlinguistic translation between Catalan and other languages. Here I will attend to three case studies which will allow me to reflect further on the relationship between trauma and translation: 1. the translation of Catalan trauma narratives into English; 2. the translation and reception of trauma narratives about the Irish struggle for Independence; 3. the transmission and reception of the theatre of Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad on European stages.

Helena Buffery teaches and researches in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University College Cork, Ireland. Currently Vice-Head of College for Research, she has a particular interest in interlinguistic and intercultural translation and reception, and her work is characterised by translational approaches to comparative cultural history and production. As Chair of the Board of Translation Studies for the past five years, she has been committed to developing the interdisciplinary ethos of the programme as a key pillar in contemporary research in the Modern Languages. She has supervised to completion numerous MA and PhD students in the field. Publications include Shakespeare in Catalan: Translating Imperialism (2007); Stages of Exile: Spanish Republican Exile Theatre and Performance Cultures (2011); Barcelona: Visual Culture, Space and Power (2012, with Carlota Caulfield). In 2018 she completed a special journal issue on Contaminated and Dislocated Bodies in Catalan Visual and Performance Art in conjunction with Eva Bru-Dominguez (forthcoming 2019), and has co-translated Maria-Mercè Marçal’s The Passion according to Renée Vivien with Kathleen McNerney. She is at present putting the final touches to a monograph on Living in Translation: Catalan Women Republican Exiles in Mexico.