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Translational Checkpoints

List of presenters

  1. Elisabeth Bladh, University of Gothenburg
  2. Elisabeth Böker, Georg-August-University Göttingen
  3. Ástrádur Eysteinsson, University of Iceland in Reykjavik
  4. Heidi Grönstrand, University of Turku
  5. Angela Kölling, University of Gothenburg
  6. Helmi-Nelli Körkkö, University of Vaasa
  7. Iris-Aya Laemmerhirt, TU Dortmund
  8. Selina Tusitala Marsh, University of Auckland
  9. Daniel Ogden, Örebro University
  10. Lisa Pääjärvi, University of Gothenburg
  11. Britta Olinder, University of Gothenburg
  12. Fabíola do Socorro Figueiredo Dos Reis, University of Antwerp; UFPA
  13. Izabela Leal, UFPA
  14. Christiane Stallaert, University of Antwerp
  15. Elin Svahn, Stockholm University
  16. Katja Valaskivi, University of Tampere



Elisabeth Bladh, University of Gothenburg


This paper aims to investigate the Swedish translational landscape via a diachronic survey of titles of translated books of fiction. The title of a book serves several important functions: it connects a text with a name, gives some hints of the content and ideally it appeals to the potential reader. Conventions for titles differ between cultures and modifications of the original wording may therefore be considered necessary by the editor of a translation in order to ensure understanding by a target readership. Conventions also tend to differ over time, a factor which will be a focal point of this study. Accordingly, the corpus consists of translations of 20th century French fiction (novels) into Swedish published over a period of a hundred years. In a Swedish context it seems to be the norm to translate titles literally, at least when it comes to highbrow fiction. This is also true for literatures from regions which culturally and geographically are quite distant from the Swedish target audience, such as the Caribbean or Africa. It is therefore not expected that this survey will show that the original context of the novel (French or Francophone) has any major influence on the choice of title translation. At the same time, it intends to raise the question whether the chosen title translation strategy is successfully catering to a readership of the target text.

Elisabeth Bladh is Senior Lecturer of French at the Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Gothenburg. She has written a number of articles and co-edited books on literary translation. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History of Antiquities. Her current research project focuses on cultural and sociological aspects of translations into Swedish of French and Francophone literatures.

Elisabeth Böker, Georg-August-University Göttingen


Due to the translation theory by Johan Heilbron and Gisèle Sapiro central languages like the German language function as a mediator for peripheral or semi-peripheral languages. (Sapiro: Translatio. 2008. 30). This becomes evident in literature from Scandinavian countries. Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish are counted among the peripheral or semi-peripheral languages. Having success on the German book market means almost always an international breakthrough for Scandinavian literature.

In my presentation I will show how the German book market operates as a translational checkpoint for Scandinavian literature. I will first point it out for the latest international bestsellers with Scandinavian origin. Widely known books like Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder or The Millenium-Trilogy by Stieg Larsson were first translated to German and number one bestsellers in Germany before many other international translations followed. My second example examines the presentation of Iceland at Frankfurt Book Fair 2011. Knowing the role of the German book market, Iceland decided to become the Guest of Honour at the world’s most important book fair. Sagenhaftes Island supported translations, especially to German, with a literary funding program enormously. Now, four years later, Icelandic authors gain worldwide attention.

Elisabeth Böker
Born in 1988 in Germany. She is a Research Fellow and PhD Candidate in the research training group “Literature and Dissemination of Literature in the Digital Age“ at Georg-August-University, Göttingen. She studied Book History and Early Modern and Modern History at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz. Since 2007 she did journalistic work among others at Frankfurter Rundschau and the Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel (magazine for the German book trade) as well as voluntary work at several publishing houses. 

Ástrádur Eysteinsson, University of Iceland in Reykjavik


This paper focuses on translation as a key factor in literary culture, which in each setting (spatial and linguistic) tends to challenge clear divisions between local and international currents, and to run counter to the prevalent ideational paradigm of distinct national literatures. Icelandic literary culture provides a case in point for this discussion.
Literature is Iceland’s central cultural tradition – often seen as having an unbroken and largely self-sufficient native continuity reaching back more than a thousand years. On the other hand it is an “insular” phenomenon that would seem to cry out for translation. And so it does – as evinced in recent outreach endeavours – but in fact it cries out for translation in both directions. Icelandic literary culture has always been dependent upon translation of foreign texts. The deep ambivalence of translation in terms of cultural value appears for instance in the way translation only seems to carry an afterglow which obstructs our view of the original gold standard, while from another perspective translation serves a primary function in our access to works shared by a broad, cross-linguistic public. Looking at the dynamics of literary “mobility” through translation, one can observe how the literary marketplace interfaces with notions of cultural value. This happens both in the sheer “attestation” achieved through published translations – as borne out in the myriad laudatory comments about how writers and/or books have been translated into so–and-so many languages – and in the dialogue between cultures enacted through the translations themselves and their reception.

This paper is in part based on a study of the paths of a number of foreign writers and works in Icelandic literary culture, observing how translation functions both as a grassroots activity and a scene of world literature, confirming the significance and scope of foreign works while manifesting the cultural reach of the target language, finding space for the newcomers. This reciprocity is also instrumental in the desire to have native texts translated into foreign languages, whatever “branding” measures this may involve.

Astradur Eysteinsson is Professor of Comparative Literature and Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. His publications include co-translations of works by Franz Kafka and Max Frisch into Icelandic, several articles in the general area of literary, cultural and translation studies, and three books: The Concept of Modernism (1990), Tvimaeli (on translation and translation studies, 1996) and Umbrot (on literature and modernity, 1999). He is the editor of The Cultural Reconstruction of Places (2006), and the co-editor (with Daniel Weissbort) of Translation – Theory and Practice: A Historical Reader (2006), and (with Vivian Liska) of Modernism (2 vols., 2007).

Heidi Grönstrand, University of Turku


Over the last decades, the literary field has undergone remarkable changes when it comes to language practices. There is an increasing amount of literature that challenges the traditional idea of monolingualism, a subject that has been so important for nation-building. Authors cross language boundaries by, for example, writing in a non-national language, addressing readers of different countries by translating their own writing into another language (self-translation) or by writing multilingual texts. Furthermore, when there is discussion of the multilingualism of literature, there is also acknowledgment of translation, in one way or another.

The questions of multilingualism and translatability are closely intertwined with economic aspects that have seeped into the literary field and given a new type of value to literature. While there are authors for whom multilingualism seems to have become a valuable resource, this interpretation definitely does not apply to all of them. In my presentation, I discuss this problem in light of the works of the Swedo-Finnish author Kjell Westö.

Westö is a well-known amongst the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, but he is also highly valued amongst Finnish-speaking readers and critics. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Finlandia Prize. Nowadays, Westö is also largely recognised in the other Nordic countries, as his latest novel Hägring 38 (2013; ‘Mirage 38’) was nominated for the Swedish August Prize and won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2014. Westö writes mainly in Swedish, but has also published a radio play, a TV drama and numerous columns in Finnish. He often interweaves several languages in his novels. Interestingly, Westö’s historical novels are a participating actor in the process of creating a collective national history, whilst he reveals the complexity of its structures, disguised under a cloak of nationalist ideals and language ideologies.

Heidi Grönstrand, PhD, Adjunct Professor (Docent; Finnish Literature) at the University of Turku. Her research interests include the history of multilingual authors and multilingual literature in Finland as well as institutional issues related to multilingualism. She is currently the leader of the research project Multilingualism in contemporary literature in Finland (2014–16; funded by the Kone Foundation). She is actively involved in developing the Nordic research network Diversity in Nordic Literature (DINO), which focuses, among others, on questions dealing with multilingualism, literature and language policy.

Angela Kölling, University of Gothenburg


Most practitioners and theorists of translation are familiar with or even producing their own metaphors for translation. Such metaphors as the translator as mediator, traitor, busy matchmaker, agent of empire or tourist guide, play a central role in shaping the way in which we understand translation, aiding in the training of successive generations of translators and theorists, and determining what facets of the translation process are deemed to be important and therefore merit study. Thus Translation Studies is continually questioning and reconstructing the metaphorical ground of translation theory.

Drawing on past metaphorical representations and insights from recent studies in metaphor theory, my research investigates how these metaphors may arrest or transform translation practices. In particular, I am interested in if and how the recurrent “invisibility” metaphor reflects the positioning of translators in larger cultural networks of international cooperation. International book fairs, like those at Frankfurt, Leipzig, London and here in Gothenburg, are ideal study sites because of their role as reference points for current economic, cultural and literary developments on a global and international and local scale. They act as sites where the rubber of world literature and translation theory meets the road.

This paper is going to share preliminary reflections about the results of my interviewing translators active in promoting and organizing events that make the translator visible to the public at bookfairs. I will describe and analyse the experience of interviewing translators at the 2015 Leipzig Bookfair and share my impressions of the translation events that took place at the Leipzig Book Fair. Further I will propose first results and ideas about the ways in which translators described their own work and their relationship with metaphors for the translator: are metaphors a tool for branding translation?

Angela Kölling is a researcher and teacher at the Department of Languages and Literatures (SPL), University of Gothenburg. Her current research traces the social imaginaries of the translator through metaphors. She is above all interested in learning how metaphors transfer theory into practice and practice into theory in translation studies, but she also explores how metaphors affect the symbolic market value of literary translation, thus crossing literary translation theory with business ethnography. Since September 2013, Kölling holds a post-doc position as a member of the Centre for European Research (CERGU), University of Gothenburg with the project: “The Politics of Translation Metaphors: Shaping Translation Studies, Situating the Translator" funded by CERGU/Riksbankens Jubileumsfond .

Helmi-Nelli Körkkö, University of Vaasa


The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world´s largest literature and media event. The Book Fair is seen and studied as a trading venue for the literary market and as a platform for political discussions. Its significance for license trade is clear. It is the largest market and plays a crucial role in the international book industry. To vary its focus, the Frankfurt Book fair annually choses one country as “Guest of Honour” to present its literature and culture. Finland had the incomparable opportunity to be the Guest of Honour of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2014. With 60 authors, over 130 books translated into German and 600 organized events Finland was presented at the Book Fair. In my presentation I will observe Finland’s performance as the Guest of Honour to find out what kind of platform the Frankfurt Book Fair is and what the Guest of Honour status provides for exporting literature and culture. It is of great significance, that literature export is not only observed from an economical point of view. Literature export also involves a process of cultural transfer. It is a dynamic process based on transfer of goods, ideas or meanings between different cultural regions. It is also a process of valuations, excluding and including literature. To explore the Guest of Honour status and the Frankfurt Book Fair as a platform for literature export one has therefore to pay attention to both the economical and the cultural aspects of the literary field.

Helmi-Nelli Körkkö (MA) is a doctoral student at the University of Vaasa in Finland. Körkkö has a master´s degree in German Language and Literature from the University of Vaasa. In her dissertation she examines the Frankfurt Book Fair and its Guest of Honour -institution. In her research her focus is on the role and position of the Guest of Honour –institution in the literary field. With a specific interest in Finland´s Guest of Honour –performance in 2014, she investigates how culture and literature are exported on the Frankfurt Book Fair. Prior to her doctoral studies Körkkö worked in Berlin with the Finnish cultural export in different organizations and institutions.

Iris-Aya Laemmerhirt, TU Dortmund


The Hawaiian islands are first and foremost associated with sandy beaches, beautiful hula girls, and a carefree vacation. This image was carefully crafted by the tourist industry to attract thousands of solvent customers to the islands. Yet, since the 1970s and 80s and increasing number of Hawaiians have raised their voices to protest the overthrow of their once independent kingdom and to present a counter-narrative of the history of Hawai’i. This movement, the so-called Hawaiian Renaissance, does not only protest against the commodification of the Hawaiian culture for the tourist industry, but it has helped to revive the Hawaiian language that had almost vanished in the years of colonization. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, an artist scholar from Palolo, Hawai’i is a slam poet who uses the power of the Ōlelo Hawai’i, the Hawaiian language, to spread her message and to regain agency. In her poems, which are steeped with Hawaiian imageries and words, she rarely offers a translation of the Hawaiian sentences. This paper will investigate how Ōlelo Hawai’i is used as a powerful tool to create what Homi Bhabha called “inverted’ polarities of a ‘counter-politics of exclusion,” hence challenging dominant power discourses. At the same time, by using her native language, referring to the rich cultural heritage of Hawai’i, as well as the tragic history of the islands, Osorio manages to shift away from a Euro-centric representation of the island state and enters a transnational dialogue.

Iris Aya Laemmerhirt is a post-doctoral candidate of American Studies and lecturer for British Studies at TU Dortmund, Germany. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies, which was partly funded by the Wilhelm und Günther Esser Stiftung, from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. She had a research fellowship at the Cluster for Asia and Europe at the Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg from 2009-2010 and started her postdoctoral research on American Literature of the 1940s at the TU Dortmund in 2012. As a Fulbright Scholar in Residence (2013-2014) at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, she taught classes on Media Studies from an American Studies perspective and continued her research for her second book. She is the author of Embracing Differences: Transnational Cultural Flows between Japan and the United States.
Her research interests include American history and literature of the 1940s, Transnational and Transpacific Studies, the history and culture of Hawaii, Media Studies, and Gender Studies. 

Daniel Ogden, Örebro University


This paper discusses the possibility of the translator achieving celebrity status and some of the possible drawbacks of such a development. At first glance this might seem like a far-fetched option. But a look at how the global publishing industry has marketed the author says differently. Ironically almost 50 years after Barthes famously declared the death of the author; the author is more alive than ever. Literary festivals, trade fairs and TV shows like the popular Swedish program, Babel, rely on authors to sell books on the global market. At worst these events become entertainment and the authors Hollywood-like celebrities. Although at present the translator seems to be immune to this process, I think we can start to discern a similar trend. Here it would seem translation is not enough. The poet has to add commentary, not only on his or her translation, but the original text as well; along with personal reflections on what the translated text meant to the translator. There can be both benefits and drawbacks to this process. One the one hand, greater visibility can enhance the professional role and status of the translator. On the other, it can – like the treatment of the author today - lead to commodification and being forced into a role one does not always want. The biggest loser, regarding both what has happened to the author and what might happen to the translator is the reader, who is further removed from the text and unfairly denied the necessary opportunity to critically and creatively engage and interact with it.

Daniel Ogden, English teacher, Örebro University, daniel@ogden.se

Lisa Pääjärvi, University of Gothenburg


Translation is inarguably a powerful tool of communication, enabling thoughts and literature to spread far beyond the boundaries of their original language and culture. As the most widely translated contemporary Japanese author, with a large international readership in 50 languages, Murakami Haruki and his works can be considered a part of “world literature” – while they are at the same time often marketed abroad with their “Japaneseness”, and therefore can be seen by the international readers as representing Japanese literature and culture. For many Swedes, Murakami is the only Japanese author with any degree of familiarity, and, just as most of Murakami’s other readers outside Japan, the vast majority will only be able to access his works through translations. Translators, although proclaimed “invisible” by Lawrence Venuti, therefore have considerable power to influence how a foreign author, or even an entire literature or culture, is presented to and received by the target culture. This paper examines the Swedish and English versions of Murakami Haruki’s short story collection Zō no shōmetsu (Elefanten som gick upp i rök / The elephant vanishes), which was the first of Murakami’s works to be published in Swedish in 1996. Using examples from the two translations and their common source text, domesticating and foreignizing tendencies in the translated texts are discussed in relation to their Swedish and Anglo-American target contexts.

Lisa Pääjärvi is a second year PhD student in Japanese at the Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research project focuses on translations of modern Japanese literature into Swedish. lisa.paajarvi@gu.se

Britta Olinder, University of Gothenburg


Translating or transferring means carrying across to the other side or, most simply, to translate from one language to another. But the basic translation takes place already from the idea or conception in the human brain into words, spoken or written down, to images, sounds, etc.

With these different dimensions in mind I want first briefly to make some observations on Canadian Janice Kulyk Keefer's transferring T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land into ”The Waste Zone”, a satirical work on a specific political situation, the summit in Québec City of the 34 Heads of State in the Americas, taking place in April of 2001. In this postcolonial appropriation classical European culture is translated into Inuit and North American terms.

Then I will go on to consider the manifold transfers of Dutch Jewess Etty Hillesum's wartime diaries
a) from thought to words on paper in Dutch,
b) to translation of them into English and
c) from this prose version of some 700 pages to Keefer's concentration into some 70 short poems.

Here the only translation in the normal, limited sense is the one from Dutch into English, but I would argue that the other transfers are of a similar nature. These concrete examples of various transactions will hopefully lead to considerations of the fundamentals of translation theory, while indicating the close relationship between translation and transculturality.

Britta Olinder, University of Gothenburg, has taught English literatures for over thirty years, has edited collections on postcolonial, especially Canadian and Irish literature and has published books and articles on Restoration drama, particularly John Dryden, on African and Australian, Indian and Irish writing but also on Canadian writers like Aritha van Herk, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Marian Engel, Gloria Sawai. Her most recent publications concern Joyce, Northern Irish writing, autofiction, parody, migration and transculturation.  

Fabíola do Socorro Figueiredo Dos Reis, University of Antwerp; UFPA
Izabela Leal, UFPA
Christiane Stallaert, University of Antwerp


ABSTRACT: This study aims to analyze the translation and sharing of fanfictions (fictions written by fans) into Brazilian Portuguese on the Internet, a practice perpetuated by the advancement of technology and the interactivity and collaboration between groups of fans in the digital age. The Internet is a place that allows creativity extends not only to shared stories such as fanfictions, but also to the translation of those online stories. The fan groups gather around a product to appropriate and rewrite the characters of other authors (Lefevere, 2007; REIS, 2011); some others translate them in a very particular way (even with specific dates and translators to translate each one of the chapters of fan stories with more than 30 chapters) and distribute those stories on internet per email, fan pages and online groups on Facebook or Google+. The reader-translators (as those volunteers are also known) translate stories of the ficwriter and rewrite it again into Portuguese. It is important to emphasize that the translation is a type of rewriting and in fan communities this is a very common activity among those who has no training in this area, but wishes to offer those translations for free to others fans from Brazil and Portugal.
KEYWORDS: Fanfiction. Translation. Digital Age.

Fabíola do Socorro Figueiredo Dos Reis, PhD student in Translation Studies at the University of Antwerp (Belgium)/Universidade Federal do Pará (Brazil)/Scholarship CAPES. Master in Literary Studies (Universidade Federal do Pará - 2009-2011). E-mail: fsfreis@yahoo.com.br
Izabela Leal, Professor at Universidade Federal do Pará – E-mail: izabelaleal@gmail.com (doctoral supervisor in Brazil)
Christiane Stallaert, Professor at University of Antwerp. Member of the group Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies (TricS). E-mail: Christiane.stallaert@uantwerpen.be (doctoral supervisor in Belgium).

Elin Svahn, Stockholm University


In the discourse on translators, the question of the translator’s (in)visibility has been much debated the last twenty years and the translator has often been described as “a shadowy presence”, “unappreciated” and “isolated” (for an overview, see Dam & Zethsen 2008: 173). Within sociology, role models are put forward as being crucial for socialization into a profession. Also from the viewpoint of translation didactics, there has been a call for more student integration into the professional community (Kiraly 2000).

However, the question of how translator students perceive the socialization into a community with members that are seldom seen in the public space has not attracted scholarly attention. Furthermore, how translator role models affect the socialization has not been empirically researched. In order to investigate the conditions governing translator students’ possibilities to socialize into the community of professional translators with regards to the connection between societal (in)visibility and translator role models, a longitudinal material consisting of focus groups with translator students is used. The focus groups were recorded at three occasions during a MA program in Translation Studies, thus ranging from when the students were entering the program to when they graduated. Questions related to the topic are: How does it affect the students’ self-image to be socialized into a profession that is considered a low-status occupation? What are the conditions for having role models in a translator education setting? How does the SL affect the availability of role models?

Elin Svahn is a PhD student in Translation Studies, Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department for Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University. Her doctoral project concerns translators’ self-image and status. She also works as a literary translator.

Katja Valaskivi, University of Tampere


Nation branding is a contemporary, transnationally circulating practice, the most recent feature of imagined nation-making in the global history of nations. While earlier imaginations of nationhood rooted their ideas and philosophy in core political concepts, such as citizenship, national sovereignty and democracy, the social imaginary of nation branding takes its theory and practices from marketing.

Creative industries have a particular role in nation branding since Cool Britannia. Nation branding is an attempt to create an authentic and differentiated image for a country. Differentiation, however, is performed via similar means throughout the world. These aspirations come together in the most apparent ways in attempts to boost the national creative industry sectors and the sales of popular culture. Authenticity and creativity are words repeated frequently, often in combination.
The paper discusses the intertwined relationship between nation branding and creative industries through a couple of case studies. The talk is based on Valaskivi’s forthcoming book on Cool Nations (Routledge).

Dr Katja Valaskivi works as Research Director at the Journalism, Media and Communication Research Centre (COMET) at the School of Communication, Media and Theatre, University of Tampere, Finland. Her research interests include circulation of knowledge and belief as well as media and social theory. She has recently studied nation branding, ‘innovationism’ and the relationship of social media and the mainstream media in the Fukushima nuclear accident and the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Her book on nation branding and the concept of cool is forthcoming on Routledge in 2015.



Dr Angela Kölling

E-post: angela.kolling@sprak.gu.se
Telefon: 031-7864622

Lundgrensgatan 7, rum H733

Sidansvarig: Fredrik Fällman|Sidan uppdaterades: 2015-09-21

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