The Materiality of Feminist Texts and Translations

Economy, Production, and Text

Second Workshop of the Leverhulme Trust funded International Network

‘Translating Feminism: Transfer, Transgression, Transformation (1945-1990)’

Organised by Dr. Maud Bracke, Dr. Penny Morris and Dr. Kristina Schulz

Bern, June 23-24, 2017

The project “Translating Feminism” brings together scholars from three continents wishing to pursue original, interdisciplinary research focused on the global reach of feminist writing and women’s movements. While the transformation of women’s social status is one of the most significant developments of the post-war period, little is known about the precise ways in which women’s rights campaigners across different national and cultural settings communicated with one another, read and translated each other’s texts, and locally re-contextualised them. The first international workshop in Glasgow in November 2016 provided the opportunity to discuss historical findings and new theoretical approaches. These discussions will be pursued further at the second international workshop that will take place in Bern, Switzerland, June 23-24, 2017.

More precisely, the forthcoming workshop will be dedicated to the materiality of feminist texts and to the material culture of feminist literary activities, with a special focus on translation. Following Roger Chartier, the meaning that readers give to a text is never detached from the material conditions in which it is produced and diffused. Chartier reminds us that the printed object is crucial to an understanding of why and how people make sense of what they read. This applies to translations in particular ways, as the physical quality of both the source text and the translation establish an (imagined) relationship between transnational and translingual writers and readers.

Women’s literary activities involved producing, diffusing, reading, translating, and discussing texts from a woman’s point of view. But what was considered to be a “woman’s point of view”, and how do global transfers and translations de-stabilise accepted notions thereof? Instead of studying feminism as a given system of ideas, regardless of the context of its production and reception, we aim to study the variety of material supportive of women-centred ideas, ranging from pamphlets to self-published pirated editions and to printed books, as well as the literary activities by which they are produced and transmitted. This includes the fact that, while practising what social movement theorists call ‘counter-cultural retreat’, when it came to literary activism, feminists did engage with a broader public, both in terms of a (potential) feminist public and the institutions and actors of the publishing market. Translating

Abstracts to be addressed to Dr Emily Ryder: translatingfeminism@gmail.com