Report from Vigo: Translation, Mobility, Hospitality, and Atlantic Communities

Yangyang Long, PhD student in Translation Studies, researching Lin Yutang and cultural exchange between China and the West, reports on the First International Conference on Atlantic Communities: Translation, Mobility, Hospitality….

Our very own Professor David Johnston and Dr Stephen Kelly, along with four of our PhD students, Sally Gillespie, Kathleen Kaess, Laurence Besnard-Scott and Yangyang Long spent two excellent days (17th and 18th September 2015) in Vigo, Spain, for the First International Conference on Atlantic Communities: Translation, Mobility, Hospitality, co-organized by Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Vigo and the University of Porto.

The scope and diversity offered by the programme, the range of languages addressed, and the variety of institutions from which the presenters were drawn, yielded productive discussions; they also clearly indicate the importance of the subject matter of the keynote speeches and panels as well as the international interest they attract. The issue of translation, whether as subject, process and/or product, brought together researchers working on a range of ‘less commonly taught languages’ (other than English, Spanish, French and German): from Irish to Galician, from Portuguese to Chinese, from sign language to musical notes, indicating the approaches through which Modern Languages and Cultural Studies as disciplines rest on creative interactions with alterity and areas of shared interest.

Kathleen Kaess delivers her paper on PISA and Education

Second from left, Kathleen Kaess of QUB on the panel on ‘The Flow of Knowledge and the Global’

The opening panel (on September 17th), on The Flow of Knowledge and The ‘Global’ Atlantic, included papers by Karen Bennett, on Portugal’s role in the global scientific system; Kathleen Kaess, on PISA and education (citing the particularly striking example of the Brandt Line), and Sarah Maitland—a graduate of Translation Studies at QUB and currently a lecturer at the University of Hull—who offered an interesting response to Harish Trivedi in which she made ‘The Case for Cultural Translation’, as well as Elisa Costa Villaverde, who spoke about the role of mass media in building the identity of the Atlantic.

Prof. David Johnston of QUB (second from the right)

Prof. David Johnston of QUB (second from the right)

The keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Charles Forsdick of the University of Liverpool, and chaired by Professor David Johnston, on The Caribbean as Translation Zone, and explored questions of ideology and mobility in transatlantic contexts.

The other intriguing panels included: Women and Early Transatlantic Exchanges, Migrant Journeys: the Atlantic Back and Forth, Writing the Atlantic Other: Diasporic and Postcolonial Fiction, Trans/Atlantic Rhythms and Writing Communities across the Atlantic: Ethics and Aesthetics.

On the second day, Dr Stephen Kelly explored the medieval transatlantic; or ‘The Peril of “New Worlds”’ in the session on Trans/Atlantic Passages and Cultural Space.

Dr Stephen Kelly (centre) of QUB delivers a paper on ‘The Peril of “New Worlds”’ in the session on ‘Trans/Atlantic Passages and Cultural Space’

Dr Stephen Kelly (centre) of QUB delivers a paper on ‘The Peril of “New Worlds”’ in the session on ‘Trans/Atlantic Passages and Cultural Space’

Laurence Besnard-Scott showed the audience the ambivalent status of an imaginary city: Atlantic City in Godard’s film Made in U.S.A. in the panel on fiction, film and stage.

Laurence Besnard-Scott (second from the left) speaking about Atlantic City in Goddard's 'Made in U.S.A.'

Laurence Besnard-Scott (second from the left) speaking about Atlantic City in Goddard’s ‘Made in U.S.A.’

Following Laurence, our Sign Language Interpreter Sally Gillespie gave her paper as part of the panel on ‘Building Communication in Trans/Atlantic relations’: ‘Dawg vs Dog: Why do Northern Irish British Sign Language Users Sign with an American Twang?’. The final panel of the morning included a paper by QUB’s Yangyang Long on ‘Translating China: Self, Others, and Lin Yutang’s Resistance’, exploring questions on the possibility of a perceptible evolution in Lin Yutang’s translation strategies in response to transforming political, social and institutional contexts.

Yangyang Long of QUB (second from the left), delivers her paper on Lin Yutang’s translation strategies

Yangyang Long of QUB (second from the left), delivers her paper on Lin Yutang’s translation strategies

The Writers’ Session in the afternoon, chaired by Dr Stephen Kelly and Professor Teresa Caneda, focussed on Owen McCafferty’s Titanic (2012) and Evelyn Conlon’s Not the Same Sky (2013). A fascinating keynote speech was given by Professor Michael Cronin of Dublin City University, chaired by Professor Rui Carvalho Homen, on ‘Translation, Mobility, Hospitality and the Post-Human Future’.

This fruitful and convivial conference proved itself to be an exceptional starting point for bringing together scholars with shared areas of enquiry and a concern for Atlantic Communities, as well as an opportunity for such scholars to benefit from collaborative and creative approaches. We are very much looking forward to a Second International Conference on Atlantic Communities.

– Yangyang Long, PhD student in Translation Studies, QUB

The QUB postgraduate presenters, from left to right: Sally Gillespie, Yangyang Long, Kathleen Kaess, Laurence Besnard-Scott

The QUB postgraduate presenters, from left to right: Sally Gillespie, Yangyang Long, Kathleen Kaess, Laurence Besnard-Scott

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