Call for papers: Translating the City

Translating the City: Cartographies of Cultural Contact and Change

Panel to be presented at the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Meeting Toronto, Canada, April 4-7, 2013

Seminar Organizer(s): Regina Galasso (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Evelyn Scaramella (Manhattan College)

Cities are sites of ever-changing cultural and historical encounters, and languages have a significant role in shaping the urban experience. Both predictable and surprising challenges and opportunities arise when city borders are crossed, voices meet, and artistic traditions find their
counterparts. Using the Latin word for “translation,” translatio, or “to carry across,” as a theoretical point of departure, this seminar examines the dynamics of translation in urban spaces and the constructions of imaginative geographies. Translation, in this sense, is not solely a linguistic matter, but more broadly a sensory experience that manifests its traces and residues in music, visual media, architecture, and literature.

How do the languages of cities influence the process of both writing and
translating? How does travel between cities stimulate creative interaction and encourage acts of translation? What is the role of multilingualism in the city? During periods of cultural conflict, transformation, and political instability, how are translation practices used strategically in urban
areas? This seminar invites papers that will expand our understanding of the relation between travel, translation, and the city through a variety of critical, theoretical, and cultural frameworks.
Paper topics might address:

perceptions of place

translation of spatial practices

representations of the metropolis

self-translation and the function of translators

the translation of and interaction between different media and disciplines

cultural encounters between East/West, North/South, center/periphery

translation in the (post)colonial city

cosmopolitan, transnational, and transatlantic urban zones

transhistorical studies

translation and conflict

For more information, please contact Regina Galasso at