English, please

Women authors of the Enlightenment
Translation, authorship, cultural transfer

11–13 May 2017
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

During the age of Enlightenment, many erudite women strove to overcome the invisibility imposed on them for centuries by becoming writers, literary translators, and cultural mediators. Rather than simply accepting their confinement to the private and the invisible, they contributed to the literary field and participated in the public sphere through their writing, translating and publishing.

Situated at the crossroads of Translation Studies, Gender Studies and Transcultural Studies, the conference explores the role of erudite women as cross-cultural mediators from two complementary perspectives. The first focuses on the strategies they used to assert themselves in the literary market, in the world of publishing, and in intellectual circles. How did they manage to overcome their marginalisation in the fields of literature and scholarship, traditionally dominated by men? The second perspective sheds light on the role of literary translation and the various translation strategies employed by women to achieve recognition not only for their work but also for their contributions to literary and cultural exchanges. How and for what reasons did they leave distinct marks on translated texts or, on the contrary, opt for discretion and invisibility?

The period under consideration is the Enlightenment, which offered new possibilities for women to participate in cultural life and the literary market. Moreover, this century is a key period in the process of professionalisation of the book market and its later development in the nineteenth century. The role and expectations of a female readership were central to it.

Because “the meaning given to the role of the translator is itself historically and socially constructed” (Sherry Simon), the conference will explore the (self-)images of erudite women of the Enlightenment, who were often torn between their social roles, on the one hand, and their aspirations, on the other. Female savants/scholars/writers had to negotiate a viable path that allowed for creativity and the achievement of their own goals: corresponding to the contemporary philosophical discourse advocating equality and autonomy, while taking into account the restrictive social and cultural norms of the period. The roles adopted by or imposed on erudite women range from the « Gehülfin » (« female assistant », a term used by J.C. Gottsched for his wife, the author and translator Luise Gottsched) – serving either her father or her husband – to autonomous poet-translators or respected savants like Anne Dacier. Besides pre-eminent figures such as Sophie Mereau, Germaine de Staël, or Sarah Austin, the conference aims to highlight the literary activities of lesser-known or forgotten figures.

We invite scholars from diverse disciplines – especially French, German and English Literature, Translation Studies and Transcultural Studies – who are interested in the history of female translators as well as in their role as agents of literary exchange and cultural transfer in Europe to submit abstracts. Young scholars are warmly invited to submit contributions.

Possible topics:

  • Negotiating social roles and gender stereotypes: erudite women’s strategies of selfrepresentation
  • Becoming (in)visible: women translators and identity play – (male) pseudonyms, masks, and doubles
  • The phenomenon of female poet-translators: erudite women, between writing and rewriting
  • Heterogeneous translation strategies as affirmation or subversion of traditional female role models
  • Original – translation – paratext: the role of translator’s notes, dedications and prefaces
  • Literary translation and its epistolary context: the role of correspondence between women translators, authors and editors
  • Erudite women and the phenomenon of self-translation
  • The access of erudite women to the literary market and to intellectual circles: strategies of professionalisation
  • Governess, language teacher, translator: erudite women and their professional activities at foreign courts
  • Erudite women in the light of literary criticism in the past and present

Among the erudite women, women authors and translators in whom we are particularly interested are:

Sarah Austin (1793–1867); Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780); Elisabeth Bekker (Betje Wolff, 1738–1804); Charlotte Sophie Comtesse de Bentinck (1715–1800); Omary_wollstonecraft_2ctavie Beloz (1719–1804); Aloïse de Carlowitz (1797–1863); Elizabeth Carter (1717–1806); Isabelle de Charrière (1740–1805); Emilie du Châtelet (1706–1749); Anne Dacier (1654–1720); Marie-Elisabeth de La Fite (1737–1794); Anne Finch (1661–1720); Sarah Fielding (1710–1768); Eliza Haywood (1693–1756); Luise Gottsched (1713–1762); Luisa Bergalli Gozzi (1703–1779); Elizabeth Gunning (1769–1823); Elizabeth Inchbald (1753–1821); Dorothea Margareta Liebeskind (1765–1853); Charlotte Lennox (1720–1804); Harriet Martineau (1802–1876); Isabelle de Montolieu (1751–1832); Sophie Mereau (1770–1806); Benedikte Naubert (1752–1819); Charlotte von Schiller (1766–1826); Charlotte Smith (1749–1806); Germaine de Staël (1766–1817); Dorothea Tieck (1799–1841); Elisabetta Caminer Turra (1751–1796); Helene Unger (1741/1751–1813); Henriette Guizot de Witt (1829–1908); Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797).

We kindly invite you to send your paper title, a 300-word abstract and a short bio-bibliographical note, including your academic affiliation, to Angela Sanmann (Angela.Sanmann@unil.ch) by Friday 14th October 2016.

The languages of the conference are French, English, and German. We will notify participants of acceptance by Monday 5th December 2016. For further information, please contact Angela.Sanmann@unil.ch.

Selected papers will be published in a volume of conference proceedings edited by the organizers.

Further details will be available on the conference website soon (see the website of Centre de traduction littéraire (CTL), of the section d’anglais and the section d’allemand). »

Angela Sanmann (Section d’allemand, Asst.-Prof. traductologie, UNIL)
Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère (Section d’anglais, Prof. English and Comparative Literature, UNIL)
Valérie Cossy (Section d’anglais, Prof. Gender Studies/Etudes genre, UNIL)

UNIL Cooperation:
Section d’allemand
Section d’anglais
Plateforme interfacultaire en Etudes Genre – PlaGe
Centre de Traduction Littéraire – CTL

Ass.-Prof. Dr. Angela Sanmann
Université de Lausanne
Section d’allemand
Anthropole / 4064
CH-1015 Lausanne
+ 41 21 692 44 55