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Translating Women: Breaking Borders and Building Bridges in the English-language Book Industry

October 31, 2019 - November 1, 2019

Deadline: 17 May 2019
Conference dates: 31 October – 1 November 2019, Senate House, University of London

Organisers: Dr Olga Castro (Aston University), co-editor of Feminist Translation Studies (Routledge, 2017).
Dr Helen Vassallo (University of Exeter), principal investigator of the Translating Women project.
Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex (IMLR/OWRI, co-director Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing).

Translated literature notoriously accounts for only 3.5% of published literature in the English-language book market, and less than one-third of this is women-authored. Women writers in translation occupy a difficult border space in literature, variously affected by lack of recognition in their home country, fewer women being entered for literary prizes, and less criticism and column space dedicated to women writers. Yet, recent phenomena such as Kamila Shamsie’s call for a ‘Year of Publishing Women’, Meytal Radzinski’s advocacy of ‘Women in Translation month’ each August, and the creation of the Women in Translation Tumblr and the ‘Warwick Prize for Women in Translation’ indicate the urgency of confronting the lack of gender equality in the English-language publishing industry with regard to translated literature.

This conference will explore the circuits of translation of women-authored literature into English, with the aim of promoting synergies between academic and publishing contexts. By questioning the power dynamics of the English-language book industry, it seeks to offer fresh insights into the cultural, social, economic and political implications of making foreign women writers available to English-speaking readers, considering where ‘borders’ lie in translated literature, and how and why women might destabilise them. Our feminist perspective challenges the lack of recognition and influence of women writers, and our transnational and geopolitical focus encourages a cross-cultural understanding already fostered by translation and by the pioneering work of organisations such as English PEN and Literature Across Frontiers. We aim to break through ‘borders’ – both real and figurative – and build ‘bridges’ between research areas and industry initiatives, bringing together representatives from all key groups of stakeholders to discuss and redress the imbalance affecting women writers in translation.


We are delighted to include as part of the programme two events with acclaimed women writers and their translators. These public sessions are free and open to all: Author Négar Djavadi (Disoriental, 2018) and translator Tina Kover. Author Ariana Harwicz (Die, My Love, 2017; Feebleminded, 2019), and translators Carolina Orloff and Annie McDermott.

Hosted by the Institute of Modern Languages Research, and supported by OWRI Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community – Translingual Strand, with the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, the Cassal Trust, Aston University and CLaRA (Centre for Language Research at Aston), and the University of Exeter.


October 31, 2019
November 1, 2019
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Senate House, University of London
Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HU United Kingdom
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