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Poetry in Expanded Translation II: Intersemiotic Translation - between Text & Image | 20-Jul-17

Poetry in Expanded Translation II:
Intersemiotic Translation—between Text & Image

International interdisciplinary conference 
8 - 10 November 2017
Université de Haute-Alsace, Mulhouse, France.

Deadline for abstracts 25/08/17

Poetry in Expanded Translation II: Between Text and Image will consider the relationship between poetry and visual texts as a form of translation. It will also explore the place of language within visual works as poetic discourse and investigate the reception of poetry and visual art across linguistic boundaries. Transposition will therefore be examined alongside translation as a means of exploring interlingual and intersemiotic crossovers. These will include sound poetry's transformation into written score, concrete or visual poetry written across languages, and literary work transformed into visual art works. Reception of verbo-visual translation in and out of book formats will be a central focus. 

The conference will explore the limits of intersemiotic translation and intermodal translation practices in order for researchers, translators, and creative practitioners from varied disciplines, languages and cultures to begin formulating a new criticism for these radical, exploratory forms of translation. We aim to provide tools for writers and visual artists applying techniques of translation to this liminal zone between literary language and sign/visual image. The goal is to contribute to the development of theoretical reflection as well as to creative practice in translation.

Potential topics for 20 minute talks include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Does one need language to translate? At what level are certain intersemiotic translations not verbal-verbal translations, but intermodal exchanges of sign and sign types?
  • Semiotic, intersemiotic vs. 'post-semiotic' translation (bpNichol).
  • What are the issues of translating polysemic elements in verbo-visual texts? What skills or techniques are needed in these cases?
  • The translation of visual protocols (typographic plays, scribbling, collages, importation of images, etc.) in ultra-contemporary literature.
  • The multimediality of the page / screen as a space for redefinition: form and translation.
  • The modality of an image-rhetoric in the context of emerging screen cultures for video-poems, hypertext works or on-screen translations of poetry.
  • Untranslatability? Textual processes which lead to “unreadable” readings, to illegible texts, thus to “impossible” translations. In parallel: untranslatability in general, as in plays on words and images that are so global/telling they do not need to be translated.
  • Emergent modes for readers and spectators of lexiconographic translations.
  • In the case of concrete poetry or modes of poetry verging on asemic writing: what does it mean to translate? What is not translated in visual poetry?
  • Translating a visual feature into a sound, or translating a literary work into a visual object or image.
  • Silence and its translation on and through the page - can silence be turned into a blank or an image?
  • Transcription of sound poetry performances to the page as forms of translation.
  • Translation into visual sign as a method of reading or understanding a work.
  • Translation and illustration.
  • New critical methods that might analyze exchanges between text and image, between form and content.
  • Identity (and the interrogation of identity) of the translator-author-artist by these verbo-visual creative translation practices. 
Confirmed speakers/performers: Sandrine Wymann (Director of the Kunsthalle-Mulhouse), Cole Swensen, Christophe Manon, the performance duo Montaigne Froide, and Mathilde Sauzet Mattei.

Participants from the AHRC Network Poetry in Expanded Translation (for which this will be the second meeting) include: Zoë Skoulding, Jeff Hilson, Jennifer K. Dick, Chris McCabe, Nia Davies, Alys Conran, Tim Atkins, Philip Terry, Lily Robert-Foley, Vincent Broqua, Simon Smith, Carole Birkan-Berz and Vahni Capildeo.

Paper proposals (250-300 words) in French or English should be emailed before August 25th 2017. They should be sent to both Jennifer K Dick at and to Maxime Leroy at Please include: "Expanded Translation" in the subject line.

Further information:

This conference is a collaboration between the Université de Haute-Alsace, the Kunsthalle-Mulhouse and the AHRC Network Poetry in Expanded Translation. It develops research from two previous events:

The conference Lex-Icon: Treating the image as text, treating the text as image, held at the Université de Haute-Alsace in 2012, asked whether it was emphatic attention to the physical substance of language (the plasticity of words) that draws the practices of authors and visual artists together today, or whether there are very different modes of representation, creation and reception engendering cultural upheavals in artistic and literary practice in verbo-visual works. We also asked whether one needs language to produce thought, to write or to describe the world.

The first seminar of the AHRC Network Poetry in Expanded Translation, held in London in April 2017, explored the ways in which rewritings of texts are in and of themselves translations.
Building on the body of reflections from these two preceding encounters, Poetry in Expanded Translation 2 will investigate the role of the visual in poetry as intercultural dialogue. It will explore the limits of what it means to translate between sign systems. Linguistic and visual frontiers will be contemplated through works containing collage, invented visual sign languages, images meant to be “read” as part of a text, and text meant to be seen as part of a work of art. Transposition of language and other codes will be examined side by side with interlingual translation issues. What can translation can mean if we think of it as going from one semiotic code to another, and not just one language to another? How does this overlap with adaptation? When does it stop being translation, or when does the word “translation” become only a metaphor for a kind of artistic or inter-artistic practice or dialogue? What is at stake in these questions?

We therefore welcome papers on intra- and interlingual translations as well as inter-media, intermodal translations and translations from digital to print to performance or mise-en-espace. Especially welcome are papers addressing the history and the historiography of intersemiotic translation, providing an overview of intersemiotic dialogue in the field. All critical, theoretical and disciplinary approaches are encouraged.

The organizers will confirm the final programme by September 10th 2017.

Information concerning this conference will be posted on the Bangor University website at: other materials may be found on their blog at:

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