Teaser: Audio Recording from Translator Made Corporeal Conference

We’ve been editing the audio recordings from the conference and they are almost ready. For everyone who just can’t wait, here’s one recording – Robert Looby’s short talk in final panel discussion. Enjoy and more soon!

The Translator Made Corporeal:Through the Lens video

The Translator Made Corporeal:Through the Lens is a photography project challenging the notion of translators’ invisibility. Photographs by the London-Berlin based photographer Julia Schönstädt are accompanied by a sound track comprising interviews with translators. Curated by Deborah Dawkin for the Translator Made Corporeal conference at the British Library May 2017, this project was supported by the London Book Fair and the British Library.

Six Days to Go: Quotes about Translators

Six days to go until the conference! To get you excited and inspired, here are some quotes about translators:

“Writers make national literature, while TRANSLATORS make universal literature.” (José Saramago)

TRANSLATORS are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.” (Paul Auster)

TRANSLATORS are the closest readers – the ones who pay the most meticulous attention to every shade of meaning of every word. Which often produces embarrassing moments when I realise, years after a book has appeared in English, that there are small mistakes and confusions in the text…” (Emma Donoghue)

“[B]oth when one translates and when one is translated, there is a strong sense that the TRANSLATOR is truly a co-author, part accomplice, part rival, part lover… ” (Claudio Magris)

The TRANSLATOR must be a great editor, a psychologist, a judge of human taste; if not, his translation will be a nightmare. But why should a man with such rare qualities become a translator? Why shouldn’t he be a writer himself, or be engaged in a business where diligent work and high intelligence are well paid? A good TRANSLATOR must be both a sage and a fool. And where do you get such strange combinations?” (Isaac Bashevis Singer)

“Without translation I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The TRANSLATOR is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.” (Italo Calvino)

TRANSLATORS never come to rest; they are constantly in two places at the same time by building associations that carry the foreign into the known of their own language.” (Rainer Schulte)

The TRANSLATOR is the only one who truly reads a text and reads it in its profundity, in all its layers, weighing and appraising every word and every image and perhaps even discovering its empty and false passages. When he is able to find or even invent the solution to a knot, he feels sicut deus [like a god]… ” (Primo Levi)

“The poet moves from life to language, the TRANSLATOR moves from language to life; both like the immigrant, try to identify the invisible, what’s between the lines, the mysterious implications.” (Anne Michaels)

Menu for The Translator Made Corporeal Conference

It’s May Day… and our conference is exactly one week away.

Here’s our menu for the day.

Registration: We’ll have Danish pastries to greet you at registration.


  • Thyme and garlic roast guinea fowl, roasted rosemary root vegetables and blackcurrant jus
  • Poached and smoked Salmon pasta bake with chopped dill
  • Falafel with roasted Moroccan carrot, chickpea, and lentil salad with Harissa and tomato pesto dressing (V)

There will also be a  baby leaf salad, cucumber tomato and shallots and mixed roasted vegetables and, for dessert, a selection of cheeses and panna cotta with spiced pear.

Afternoon: Coffee, tea and cakes.

Post-conference: A wine reception.

Happy May Day everyone!

Conference Programme

Our full conference programme is now available. You can access it here.

Highlights include Jeremy Munday (Leeds) as keynote speaker, Theo Hermans (UCL) as chair of the closing panel discussion on Investigating the Potentials and Risks of Studying the Biographies of Translators and a exhibition of translator portraits photographed by Julia Schönstädt at the London Book Fair.

Welcome to The Translator Made Corporeal

From our Call for Papers [NOW CLOSED]:

In 2001 Theo Hermans suggested that while we have recognized that there can be no text without the human translator, translators are still expected to remain “hidden, out of view, transparent, incorporeal, disembodied and disenfranchised”.

Anthony Pym describes the need to look at the “flesh and blood” translator if we are to gain a deeper understanding of translators as cultural agents. D’Hulst suggests that we should ask Qui? – who is the translator? To answer this question he suggests we need to investigate the biographical detail of the translator, including his/her educational, social and economic background. More recently, Jeremy Munday, Outi Paloposki and others have suggested that we should research translators’ archives to reveal their every-day lives, struggles, networks, and even friendships. Munday has further suggested the creation of micro-histories of translators.

This conference sets out to explore current progress in studying the human, flesh-and-blood translator in an historical and cultural context. A final panel, chaired by Theo Hermans, will focus on the future potentials, limitations and risks of biographical research of translators in Translation Studies and the humanities.

The British Library and University College London are currently accepting abstracts for papers from scholars and early career researchers in Translation Studies, History, Gender Studies, Comparative Literature, Sociology, etc. We also welcome papers from archivists, curators and translators.