Journal special issue (CLINA): Arabic literature in translation
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Arabic literature, declared Edward Said in 1990, “remains relatively unknown and unread in the West, for reasons that are unique, even remarkable.”
More than twenty years later, it is hard to say that the situation has remained the same: there has been a notable rise in the quantity of Arabic literary works available in several European languages. Yet, considering the increased interest in Arab and Muslim societies following various political events and the remarkable growth of Arabic literature (especially the novel) in recent years, it is rather surprising that translating and publishing Arabic literature in European languages is often seen as something of a gamble.
Whether it is their illustrative social value, exotic appeal, or confirmation of established political views or representations, the translation of Arabic literary works has often had to be justified in terms other than those of aesthetic merit or literary value. This intersection of literary and socio-political factors is one of the main questions this collection aims to investigate.
The proposed special issue will explore the current status of translated Arabic literature in Europe and North America from various angles. The aim is to examine the factors influencing the selection of works for translation, and the choices and dilemmas facing translators and publishers in the process of transporting Arabic literary works into a new environment. The editor is especially interested in the combination of literary, social, and political elements that play out in the selection, translation, framing, publication, and reception of Arabic works.
We welcome contributions that benefit from recent research in translation studies, especially those engaging critically with traditional paradigms in translation theory or scholarship on Arabic literature.
Abstract (500 words): June 30, 2015
Final Paper: September 30, 2015
Send abstract and inquiries to Tarek Shamma at firstname.lastname@example.org
Themes to be addressed may include but are not restricted to the following:
• What factors influence the selection of an Arabic literary work for translation?
• Do translators (in anticipation of publishers’ demands or readers’ expectations) foreground, or exaggerate, particular stylistic or thematic aspects in the works they translate? And what strategies do they use for this purpose?
• Have recent political developments in the Middle East and globally (the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of and withdrawal from Iraq, the “Arab Spring”), and the ensuing interest in the culture and politics of the Arab World, had any impact on the perception of Arabic literature and the conditions surrounding its translation?
• How valid are the conventional paradigms of Orientalism and exoticism in understanding current translator choices and audience reactions in European languages?
• To what extent are Arab institutions, intellectuals, and writers themselves to blame for perpetuating the marginalization of Arabic literature in the global arena?
• Does Edward Said’s description of Arabic literature as “embargoed” still illustrate (if it did in the first place) the way Arabic literature is being treated by translators, publishers, and readers? Is there a deliberate intent, as Said stated, to “interdict any attention to texts that do not reiterate the usual clichés about ‘Islam,’ violence, sensuality and so forth”?
• To what extent do the conditions and modes of reception of translations from Arabic differ across audiences and countries?
• In what ways could the prospect of being selected for translation into a European language influence an Arab writer’s choice of style and theme?
• Are the conditions in which Arabic literature is translated and received comparable to those governing the reception of literary works from other marginalized communities, especially “Third World” countries?
• Recent years have seen a growing number of immigrant Arab authors writing in ex-colonial languages, such as English and French. Has this phenomenon had any effect on the perception of Arabic literary works, their selection for translation, or readers’ expectations?