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Birmingham Centre for Translation Annual Forum

Learning Centre UG07 (R28 on campus map)
Arts and Law, Research
Friday 11th May 2018 (13:00-17:00)
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 All welcome. This event is free but spaces are limited, so please register.

BCT Annual Translation Studies Reseach Forum


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Please note that the location on our Edgbaston campus has been updated to Learning Centre UG07 (R28 on the campus map)


Narrative, Discourse, and the Interplay between the Personal and the Public in Translation and Interpreting

Prof Mona Baker

This presentation will explore some of the main differences between the concept of narrative, as defined and applied in what has come to be known as the ‘socio-narrative’ approach to studying translation and interpreting (Harding 2012), and the concept of discourse, as understood and applied in Critical Discourse Analysis. Acknowledging the diversity of definitions and interpretations of both concepts in the literature, I will nevertheless argue that however defined, narrative always has the advantage of paying attention to the detail of everyday life, of individual dilemmas, personal suffering, fear, joy, apprehension – the kind of detail that appeals to our common humanity and therefore opens up a space for empathy and for resistance. This attention to the personal makes narrative theory particularly attractive to scholars interested in investigating questions of power and resistance in translation. Examples will be offered to demonstrate some of the ways in which the personal and the public have been shown to intertwine in research on translation and interpreting that has drawn on narrative theory, and some of the ways in which the interplay between them can be investigated further in future research.

What was Literary Theory in the Medieval Islamic World?

Prof Rebecca Gould

Contemporary literary studies has failed to engage with the rich tradition of reflexion on the nature of literature prior to modernity and outside European literature. Yet modern literary theory, rooted as it is in national literary histories, offers a weak foundation for theorising literature as a multilingual phenomenon, or for charting the central role of translation to literary cognition as such. Drawing on a long history of Persian and Arabic poetics, and specifically the rhetorical tradition (‘ilm al-balagha), this talk examines the concepts that were instrumental in shaping the literary theory of premodern Persian and Arabic literature, and in framing the translation of poetry from Arabic into Persian. I consider how the movement between Persian, Arabic, and other literary traditions of the Islamic world epitomises the process through which poetry came to be conceived as a unique way of reflecting on the world. These concepts, derived from translation and rhetorical theory, stand to revise European-derived understandings of literary form. This talk also lays out the agenda and rationale for my ERC-funded research project, “Global Literary Theory: Caucasus Literatures Compared”( ), which begins in May 2018.

Re-narrating Islamic State through animated satire: The case of Bighdaddy Show

Mrs Balsam Mustafa

Since the capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, the terrorist group Islamic State (also known as Daesh) has reinforced its media machine by taking social media to new levels.  The internet, in general, and social networks, in particular, have been used as a platform through which images, texts, and videos are posted and disseminated, creating wider dangerous narratives. In response to this, there were attempts to undermine IS’s narrative in both mainstream and social media networks. One interesting example is the use of animated political satire as a means to counter IS’s narratives and discourse. Using a case-study approach, I examine the online animated political satire series titled: The Bighdaddy Show and its affiliated-Facebook page Amaaq al Khalifa Barhoum (The depths of the Caliph Barhoum).  Both the animated series and the Facebook page were launched by a group of Iraqi and Syrian activists with the aim of ridiculing ISIS and challenging its narratives.  However, I also argue that the aim of this animated series was to re-narrate IS constructing it as a non-Iraqi organization in the first place.  Interestingly, the series was translated into English subtitles apparently to reach to wider target audience beyond the Arab world.  However, the English subtitles were not always successful in creating the same satirical effect literally translating cultural-specific terms and phrases. My study contributes to emerging research on acts of activism and cultural resistance in the face of IS which so far remains under-researched.

Social Identity, Optimal Distinctiveness, Face and Interpreter’s role - An interdisciplinary approach with new evidence

Dr Xiaohui Yuan

The interpreter’s role and performance in triadic interactions have attracted considerable scholarly attention since the 1970s. Seminal field research on interpreting in courtrooms, in hospitals, and in war zones challenge the traditional invisible conduit-type role of the interpreter. Nevertheless, Hale (2006) and Pöchhacker (2006) critique that much data-driven research in the area suffers from a lack of theoretical conceptualisations, and short of diversified sociocultural and linguistic contexts for investigation. To address these two key issues, this article for the first time draws on social psychology theories of social identity and optimal distinctiveness, and the sociolinguistic notion of face, to develop an interdisciplinary framework for conceptualising the role of identity and face influencing interpreters’ decision-making and choice of linguistic strategies in delivery. Political interpreting contexts are examined to illustrate how the identified social psychology and sociolinguistic concepts influence interpreter’s behaviour in action.

Unheard Voices of the Algerian Civil War (1990s): the Role of Testimonies in Transitional Justice

Dr Anissa Daoudi

The paper will discuss two interrelated elements in relation to the use of testimonies (fictional or personal) to inform us about transitional justice in Algeria during the Civil War (1990s).  The first will be on the published literary texts, which include fictional testimonies like Assia Djebar’s later novels in French, Fadhila Al Farouq’s  Taa Al Khajal (1998) in Arabic and Baya Gacemi’s testimony Moi, Nadia, femme d’un émir du Gia (1998).  The second part will be about personal testimonies of victims/survivors of the 1990s, narrating their stories at a ‘writing workshop’ organised by the researcher in Blida, Algeria on the 1st November 2017 in collaboration with NGO called Djazairouna.  The final part will be devoted to the new writings by Fadhila al Farouq and Said Khatibi based on their translations of the victims/survivors’ testimonies they listened to at the workshop.

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