Normativity and Resilience in Translation and Culture

27 – 29 May 2019 Warsaw

Norms can be broadly defined as some kind of protection from change, a prescribed standard whose violation involves distortion and deformation, a transformation into something which the normal thing is not. Though derived from carpentry, the art of construction of rigid objects (normais the Latin word for carpenter’s square), normativity has become a measure of things more evanescent than furniture – of ethical, social, aesthetic or political judgements, of certain cultural norms which may seem to be universal only given that they survive the test of being transferred, or translated, to other cultures. If, as Yuri Lotman noted in his Universe of the Mind(1990), “the elementary act of thinking is translation” (143), then translation can be viewed as a crucial activity involved in the formation of cultures along with their concepts, conceptualizations and norms. However, since translation, as a kind of dialogue, is inevitably asymmetrical and assumes only “a degree invariancy” (143), this degree seems to be an effect of culture’s resilience to the inadequacy and change involved in any kind of translation. Paradoxically, it is the change, the rupturing of the norm in and through translation which is a constitutive element of normativity. This “rupturing of the norm,” wrote Lotman, “is what builds up the image of the truly essential but unrealized norm” (90). Thus normativity is both a matter of representation and something which may be called a feature of the world, the latter possibility figuring as an unrealizable effect of broadly understood translation which simultaneously protects and disrupts it. Looking at the ideas of norm and normativity in culture in the context of translation we would like to think about various locations of what may be called normative ‘ought’ statements, sometimes implicitly dictating our choices of words and ideas; the quiet demands of discourse to retain norms despite various perturbations. The ‘ought’ statements of normativity, of retaining the norm, seem to be an important aspect of management of resistance whose significant function is, as Judith Butler claims in Vulnerability in Resistance, concealment of destitution (8). The ‘ought’ of resilience has become not only the desired good of neoliberalism, but also, as she puts it, “a force to be reckoned within the realm of hegemonic ethics of and truths about the self” (53).One of the tasks of the conference is to attempt, at least provisionally, to locate the whereabouts of such ‘ought’ statements, the teachings of imaginary security and certainty consisting in the ability of jumping into prior shape.

We invite papers and presentations approaching the issues of translation, normativity and resilience from possibly broadest theoretical and methodological perspectives such as Translation Studies, Linguistics, Literary Criticism, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Feminist and Gender Studies, Queer Theory, Philosophy, Sociology, History of Ideas, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies …, realizing that a strictly single-disciplinary approach is nowadays hardly thinkable. We suggest the following, broad, thematic suggestions as a map showing a few orientation points of the conference:

resilience as adaptation
norm and nature
normativity and originality
normativity and creativity
normalcy and creativity
normative translation
normativity and ethics
norm and its others
language of the norm
normativity and meaning
limits of normativity
normal / accepted
rules / norms / idiosyncrasy
rules / norms / transgressions
adherence / infringement / violation
resilience / conformity
resilience / immunity
resilience vs. resistance
normative modification
resilience and standardization
resilience and empowerment
resilience and retaliation
norm as domination
resilience and change
prescriptive vs. normative
normality and monstrosity
resilience and adaptability
resilience and plasticity
resilience as vulnerability
uncertainty and norm
control and resilience
translation and adaptation
translation and change
cultures in translation
resilience as recovery
normativity, resilience, survival

Keynote speakers

Professor Tomasz Basiuk, University of Warsaw
Professor Luise von Flotow, University of Ottawa
Professor David Malcolm, University of Gdansk

Proposals for 20-minute papers (ca 250 words) should be sent to by 10 March 2019. We also encourage panel proposals comprised of 3 to 4 papers, and an additional 100-150 words explaining how they are interlinked in addressing the panel theme.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 15 March 2019.

The deadline for registration and payment of the conference fee: 15 April 2019.

Participants will be invited to submit extended versions of their presentations to be published in an edited volume.

The conference fee is 590 PLN | 140 EUR | 160 USDfor all participants.

Conference organizers: Dr. Agnieszka Pantuchowicz, Dr. Anna Warso, Dr. Paulina Grzęda
Conference website: