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Self-translation: intertextual perspectives, aesthetic transactions, transcultural circulation

Autotraduction : perspectives intertextuelles, transactions esthétiques, circulations transculturelles

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Published on Thursday, September 12, 2019


Ce colloque s’inscrit dans la série des manifestations consacrées aux différents enjeux de l’autotraduction. Comme l’ont montré ces manifestations, les textes traduits par leurs auteurs, ou en collaboration étroite avec eux, gagnent à être envisagés en tant que phénomène littéraire, culturel et discursif qui offre un corpus de recherche original pour l’étude des problématiques poïétiques, narratologiques et traductologiques, mais aussi intersémiotiques. L’ambition de ce nouveau colloque est de montrer la complémentarité de ces perspectives.


6th-7th April 2020, Lyon 3 University (University of Lyon)

MARGE (University of Lyon 3), Centre of Linguistic Studies (University of Lyon 3), EUR’ORBEM (Sorbonne University – CNRS), LIRCES, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (UCA)


The conference forms part of a series of events dedicated to various topics related to self-translation: the conference “Plurilingualism and self-translation: language lost, language salvaged” organized at Paris-Sorbonne/EUR’ORBEM in October 2016, followed by an inter-laboratory seminar held in March 2018 in Lyon, and the conference “(Self)-Translation and the Communication of Imaginaries in a Rebabelized World” organised in May 2019 by the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (UCA) with the participation of MARGE (Lyon 3) and the CNRS.

As the above events have shown, works translated either by the authors themselves, or in close collaboration with them ought to be considered as a literary, cultural and discursive phenomenon providing an original body of research material for the study of poiesis, narration and translation, as well as intersemiotic issues. The forthcoming conference should demonstrate the complementarity of these perspectives.

Self-translation, as a field of study that is interdisciplinary par excellence, brings together the fields of comparative literature, translation studies, linguistics and sociolinguistics (Christian Lagarde’s research reveals the potential of this approach), the history and sociology of literature (Rainier Grutman), as well as the semiotics of cultural transfers. The analysis of self-translated essays and studies may also prove instrumental in exploring the circulation of knowledge.

We wish to examine the claim according to which self-translation provides these fields with analytical tools, which form the three thematic axes of the conference.

Axis 1. Self-translation as a dialogic tool: intertextual and enunciative perspectives

We consider self-translation to be a particular hypertextual practice through which the two versions of a piece of writing are perceived as both transcriptions and variations in the musical sense of these words. The conference is, therefore, an invitation to examine the “transtextuality” typical of self-translated texts at both the enunciative and the paratextual level (illustrations, titles, intertitles, epigraphs, forewords, afterwords, comments, etc.).

Through taking into account modifications - from the point of view of both linguistics and the construction of the narrative and of the paratext – we can bring to light the unique dialogue that opens up between the two versions of a piece of writing.

It would be interesting to explore the singularity of self-translated texts by studying them through the prism of the theories of dialogism (in particular Jacques Bres’s theory) and of polyphony, and to identify and study linguistic structures that allow the dialogization between two (or more) versions of a literary work.

Constraints related to switching from one language to another represent another linguistically relevant issue that could be explored in order to recognize the peculiarities of style, semantics and syntax. Through working with different versions of a text, we can identify its untranslatable parts (Barbara Cassin), and study their linguistic and aesthetic impact.

From the poetic point of view, self-translation - as a ‘double writing’ process – is a form of self-communication: this is where the dichotomy of otherness and ipseity finds its unprecedented actualization. Through interpreting his/her own work, the author adopts – as Alain Rabatel puts it - an ‘active dialogical attitude’ towards the text. For the same reason self-translation lends itself to examination within the self-narrative perspective (see Alain Ausoni’s work). We shall reflect upon ways in which the auctorial instance may duplicate itself when the author becomes the translator of his/her own works.

The phenomenon of identity explosion shall also be analysed. Indeed, due to the ambiguity of the author’s position, the question of the subject, which is typical of any multilingual writing, is heightened in the case of self-translation. In addition, when it comes to the choice of languages and the context of writing, the position of the self-translator is rarely neutral. How do self-translation practices help to reveal, to regulate and to overcome the aporiae related to the multi-belonging and the dislocation of the self resulting from migratory processes and exile?

Furthermore, we shall reflect on the textual manifestations of the enunciative split through examining its formal aspects (syntax, verb tenses, etc.). A genetic perspective shall be taken into account through the analysis of how the different stages of the transition from one language to another are revealed in the gap that opens up between the two versions, with the first becoming the fore-text of the second.

At the same time, the works that are the fruit of such practices invite us to reflect on the balance of power between languages and cultures, on the centre and the periphery, as well as the see-saw process between the author’s status as a writer and as a translator.

Axis 2. Self-translation in the light of intersemiotic transfers

At the aesthetic level, relations between the two versions (which are dialogic in many respects), reinforce the work’s performative potential. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that self-translation tends to trigger new aesthetic interactions, such as multilingual theatre productions based on two versions of a particular piece of writing. Such transpositions are a concrete embodiment of the active reception of a self-translated work that we believe worthy of consideration. If this type of intermediary transfers is rather frequent owing to a greater performative charge of self-translated texts, one may also question examples of real aesthetic transactions, that is, situations in which the author returns to the original version of his/her work in order to rewrite - or retranslate – it, drawing from his/her experience with theatre production, the writing of a screenplay or a script as in the case of works by Beckett or Pirandello.

Various ways in which self-translated texts become part of the intermedial dynamics typical of contemporary artistic practices could be examined. Indeed, self-translation can give rise to hybrid systems, as evidenced by Elsa Triolet’s practice of incorporating images within the texts she translates. Intermediality - as an artistic process often linked to self-translation - prompts one to consider self-translated works in the light of other instruments of competing narration, such as self-illustration, which brings one back to paratextual and hypertextual perspectives.

Thus, the poetic, narratological, enunciative and intersemiotic perspectives tender complementary angles of analysis allowing the study of different types of interactions between self-translated texts, either at the very moment of the text’s genesis, or in the course of interactions fostered through the reception of works thus produced.

Axis 3. Self-translation and the circulation of knowledge: the cross-cultural perspective

While self-translation is a matter of literary and inter-semiotic transfers, it has also contributed to the transfer of ideas over the centuries, from the works of Mikhail Lomonosov in the eighteenth-century Russia to theoretical writings on art by Wassily Kandinsky or critical essays of Wladimir Weidle in twentieth-century Europe.

More recently, works such as Narratologija, written by Wolf Schmid and published first in Russian, and subsequently self-translated into German as Elemente der Narratologie and ultimately self-translated into English as Narratology: An Introduction[2], show how multilingual scientific communication, which involves self-translation, contributes to the globalization of knowledge. Examples of editorial and translation practices that draw form a cross-cultural approach are also to be taken into account.

The conference is thus an invitation to examine this particular mode of transferring ideas from one culture to another, and to question various problems related to the author's involvement in translating his/her own work in the process of self-translation and collaborative translation. Terminological difficulties stemming from differences in critical traditions and schools of thought, as well as the scope of transformations and adjustments are to be related to the issues at stake in the circulation of knowledge.

Through considering the circulation of different kinds of texts, the conference will aim at embracing the fields of literary, artistic, as well as conceptual transfers through self-translation.

Topics to be explored:

  • transtextuality of self-translated texts: intertextual relations; paratextuality;
  • analysis of self-translated texts as an instrument of poetic analysis and as a tool for the elaboration of a critical apparatus;
  • enunciative and dialogical approach of self-translated texts: enunciative heterogeneity (voice in dialogue) and its characteristics;
  • linguistic constraints encountered when switching from one language to another, untranslatability in the context of semantics and syntax; stylistic changes;
  • self-translation of scientific works: conceptual, epistemological and ideological constraints;
  • self-translation of essays;
  • artistic collaborations, intermediality and aesthetic transactions;
  • theatrical production of self-translated texts, inter-semiotic transfers, the literary work and its adaptations;
  • power relations in the socio-linguistic dimension of languages;
  • self-translation as a consequence of exile and migration processes; related identity issues.

Submission guidelines

The languages of the conference will be English and French. The deadline for proposals submission is extended to

the 20th of September 2019.

The proposals are to be sent as abstracts (500-600 words) with a short bio-bibliographical note to:


Scientific Committee

  • ARTYUSHKINA Olga, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Studies, Centre of Linguistic Studies, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • AUCLERC Benoît, Associate Professor in French Literature, Deputy Director of the MARGE group, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • BONNET Gilles, Full Professor, Modern and Contemporary Literature, member of the MARGE group, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • GALMICHE Xavier, Full Professor, Central European Studies, EUR’ORBEM, University of Paris-Sorbonne/CNRS.
  • GRUTMAN Rainier, Full Professor, Department of French and School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa.
  • HILSUM Mireille, Professor Emerita, member of the MARGE group, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • JURGENSON Luba, Full Professor, Department of Slavic Studies, Univerisity of Paris IV Sorbonne, Director of Mixed Research Unit (UMR) 8224 EUR’ORBEM.
  • KIPPUR Sara, Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies Trinity College Hartford (Connecticut), USA.
  • LUSHENKOVA FOSCOLO Anna, Associate Professor in Russian Language and Literature, Department of Slavic studies, member of the MARGE group, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • OUSTINOFF Michaël, Full Professor in Translation Studies, Department of English, LIRCES research group, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (UCA).
  • SAIGNES Anna, Associate Professor (Hab.), Comparative Literature, University of Grenoble.
  • SHRAYER Maxim D., Full Professor, Department of Slavic Studies, Boston College, USA.
  • SMORAG Małgorzata, Full Professor, Polish Literature, EUR’ORBEM, University of Paris-Sorbonne.
  • THELOT Jérôme, Full Professor, French Literature, member of the MARGE research Group, University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.
  • ZAREMBA Charles, Full Professor, Polish linguistics, member of the ECHANGES research group, University of Aix-Marseille.

[1] Wolf Schmid, Narratologija, Jazyki Slovjanskoj Kul’tury, Moscou, 2003 (2e éd. 2008) ; Elemente der Narratologie, Walter de Gruyter Berlin, 2005 (2e éd. 2008) ; Narratology: An Introduction, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 2010.

[2] Wolf Schmid, Narratologija, Jazyki Slovjanskoj Kul’tury, Moscow, 2003 (2nd ed. 2008); Elemente der Narratologie, Walter de Gruyter Berlin, 2005 (2nd ed. 2008) ; Narratology: An Introduction, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 2010.



  • Lyon, France (69)


  • Friday, September 20, 2019


  • autotraduction, traduction


  • Anna Lushenkova Foscolo
    courriel : anna [dot] lushenkova-foscolo [at] univ-lyon3 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Anna Lushenkova Foscolo
    courriel : anna [dot] lushenkova-foscolo [at] univ-lyon3 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

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« Self-translation: intertextual perspectives, aesthetic transactions, transcultural circulation », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, September 12, 2019,

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