Call for papers: the imaginaries of translation

Following the great success of our workshop on the “Imaginaries of Translation”, which took place at the University of Sorbonne-Nouvelle on the 3rd and 4th of March 2017, we now wish to extend our reflections on the theory and practice of translation and to encourage innovative and comparative perspectives.

The connections that are developed between translation studies and comparative literature reveal the complexity of such hybrid disciplines and emphasize the importance of rethinking their identity and their special characteristics. In fact, this subject was at the centre of attention during the 11th Congress that was organized by the International Association of Comparative Literature (1985). In his introduction, José Lambert defined translation as a dynamic field and underscored its increasing interactions with other disciplines. It is therefore desirable to grasp translation, not only from the viewpoint of literature, but also from the viewpoint of the history of knowledge and social practices (F. Rastier: 2011; A. Guillaume: 2015; Y. Chevrel, J.-Y. Masson: 2015). Furthermore, it seems necessary to rethink translation through the prism of philosophy, poetics, studies on the imaginary, and finally, to consider it as an art and not as a branch of applied linguistics.

Indeed, as argued by G. Lane-Mercier, comparative literature and translation studies are intrinsically linked because of their common centrifugal, nomadic or “cartographic” aims as well as their common propensity to the intersection, the realignment and the crossing of borders. It is, in fact, through such processes that these two disciplines become fields of major conflict and of major synthesis.

In this framework, we wish to envisage a process of hybridization between translation studies and the studies on the imaginary. In order to achieve this goal, we will consider the notion of the imaginary in translation as a divergence from what has been defined as “the theory of the linguistic imaginary” (Glissant 1996; 2010; Houdebine 2002).

Our approach to the imaginary in translation is twofold:

On the one hand, we take into consideration the ways in which the imagination is involved in the “socio-symbolic elaboration of translation practices” (Antonio Lavieri: 2007, 2010). In this regard, we can articulate an “imaginary of translation” or a “representation of translation” which is depicted in the use of metaphors, stereotypes or narratives. We will thus focus on the representations, the narratives, the metaphors and the myths that are associated with the act of translation. These practices can be traced in theoretical texts as well as in paratexts.

On the other hand, when it comes to the study of translated texts, it is crucial to observe the process by which the imaginary and the imagination of translators –also in relation to the collective imagination-, play a decisive role in the act of translation (Raimondo 2016a 2016b). It is, indeed, noteworthy that many translational solutions derive from the creative imagination of translators, which is in its turn embodied in linguistic and poetic choices, as can be seen, for example, in the works of Collinge (2000) or Verger (2010). In this regard, it is possible to rethink translation studies from a “genetic” perspective that is enhanced in the light of new studies on the notion of the imaginary. This second part explores the imaginaries of translation and the psyche of translators in relation to texts. In a certain way and with certain cautiousness, we can also speak of “the psychology of translations”.

We, therefore, hope to unearth the relationships between the act of translation and the history of knowledge (Rastier 2011, Guillaume 2015, Chevrel and Masson 2015) through the prism of interdisciplinarity (Bassnett and Lefevre 1998; see Ladmiral 2006: 109-125). We also wish to propose a coherent system that takes into account both the linguistic dimension and the socio-cultural substratum (Bassnett 1998: 10), which will help to define the complex factors underpinning literary translation. Through this attempt, we envisage to widen the scope of translation, to improve the effectiveness of its analytical and hermeneutical tools and to expand its “spheres of influence” (Guillaume 2014, 2016) or “spheres of existence” (Ballard 2016).

In order to achieve our goals, we will examine translation through the prism of the so-called “circumstances of the imaginary production” (Van Eynde: 2005). Indeed, it is possible to notice that the “active imagination” (Jung: 1970) of the translator is, consciously or unconsciously, embodied in his/her linguistic, stylistic and poetic choices. In this regard, we will put forward Ricœur’s “poetics of will” (P. Ricœur: 1986) which will help us trace a number of phenomena and experiences that are situated “between theory and practice” (P. Ricœur: 1986). Furthermore, we will base our research on the conception of the imagination that was articulated by Giambattista Vico in his doctrine of the “fantastic universals” that appeared in his work Scienza nova (1744). According to Vico, imagination is considered in relation to its link with the historical and the poetic. Finally, we will look into the work of Olivier Rimbault (2015: 24-28), which evokes Carl Gustav Jung (1993) and Gilbert Durand (1984) and envisages the existence of a common imaginary structure in cultural discourse. According to Rimbault, a common “matrix zone” (2016) can be found at the origin of archetypes and ideas.

For our upcoming publication, we welcome academic articles that focus on, but are not limited to, the following categories:

  • the “socio-symbolic” imaginary of translation
  • representations, narratives, metaphors and myths in translation
  • the translator’s psyche
  • the imaginary of the exotic in translation
  • the imaginary of translation and its connection to the notion of violence
  • the act of translation in connection to the translator’s imagination
  • mystical approaches to translation
  • philosophical imaginaries in translation
  • political imaginaries in translation
  • imaginaries between sourciers and ciblistes
  • psychoanalysis and the imaginaries of translation
  • the psychology of translation
  • the imaginary in the translation of the founding texts
  • the translator’s representations in literature and in art
  • imaginary and the “Beautiful Infidels”
  • traductology, semiotics and the experience of the imaginary


Contributions are expected to be based on the bibliographic references cited below, as well as on the theoretical background that was elaborated during our workshop (see

The articles should not exceed 10,000-15,000 characters (bibliography included) and should be sent to the addresses below in two formats (WORD and PDF) and in two copies (a signed and an anonymous one) before the 30th of August 2017. The articles should be accompanied by an abstract in English and in French (150/200 words for each abstract) and a brief bio-bibliography in English and in French (150/200 words for each bio-bibliography).

Authors are kindly requested to respect the rules of this call for papers. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

The authors will be notified as soon as their proposals have been accepted and will be asked to format their text according to the editorial policies.