Lawrence Venuti

Do02Jun18:15Do19:45Lawrence VenutiOn a Universal Tendency to Debase Retranslations; or, The Instrumentalism of a Translation FixationVeranstaltungsartVortrag


Organised by Heribert Tommek in cooperation with Cornelia Ortlieb, Research Area 4: “Literary Currencies”.

A lecture by Prof. Dr. Lawrence Venuti (Temple University, Philadelphia/USA). This event is part of the lecture series “Naturalisation of the Foreign? Literary Translation from a Postcolonial Perspective“.

Some readers prefer an earlier translation in which they encounter a source text, particularly a canonized work, over later versions of the same text. The decisive encounter is so compelling as to establish an enduring attachment that entails denigration or outright rejection of later versions. Insofar as the attachment suggests obsessiveness, it can be called a fixation. The readers’ responses share features that transcend membership in specific linguistic communities and cultural institutions: they value a high degree of readability, which is construed as an indication of greater equivalence to the source text. Here the readers reveal their assumption of an instrumental model–i.e., an understanding of translation as the reproduction or transfer of an invariant contained in or caused by the source text, an invariant form, meaning, or effect. The fixation can be illuminated by considering the network of intersubjective relations in which the preferred translation is first encountered. A case represented in a literary text enables a more incisive account of the various conditions that shape the reader’s experience: Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Pnin (1957). This text discloses an identity-forming process that can be deepened with Jacques Lacan’s concept of the “object a.” The instrumentalism that underpins the fixation deserves consideration because it would in effect deny or stop cultural change, innovative interpretation, the very practice of translation.

The lecture will be given in English

Hörsaal B

The lecture will be held as an in-person event. A live stream will be available here.

Mehr anzeigen


2. Juni 2022 18:15 - 19:45(GMT+02:00)

Freie Universität Berlin

Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin