Research projects

Anja van de Pol-Tegge (2017-2021) Belgian Literatures in German Translation – Multilingualism and Cultural Transfer (1945 to the Present);
Joint PhD; supervisors: Arvi Sepp (VUB), Vera Gerling (HHU Düsseldorf)

This PhD thesis on the translational dynamics of Belgian literatures in the Federal Republic of Germany takes a new look at the complexity of the cultural and historical entanglements between the neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany. Hitherto, the bilateral relations after 1945 have been scarcely researched in Cultural Studies and Translation Studies. This study starts at this historical moment and follows the traces of discursive developments in the years that followed until today.
The text corpus of this study consists of Belgian novels in the source languages French and Dutch and in the target language German including works by Marie Gevers, Louis Paul Boon, Hugo Claus, Amélie Nothomb, Thomas Gunzig and Fikry El Azzouzi. Based on comparative translation analyses, the study reveals epistemic configurations and their corresponding expectations or pre-assumptions in the German target context. These are mapped via hetero- and auto-images and brought together to form trends in translation dynamics giving an overall view of social discourses underlying the recontextualisation of Belgian literatures in Germany. Thus, the dynamics of cultural transfer is shown in concrete text-analytical cases, and also illustrated on a more abstract level. The culture-constructing function of translation depending on socio-historical discourses is highlighted in this way.
Moreover, the interdisciplinary approach of the present study goes beyond the mere focus on literary translation and includes contiguous fields such as literature and multilingualism, cultural transfer and reception as well as general Belgium Studies, in order to illuminate conditions and developments in society. In this way, the study underlines the added value of Translation Studies for the analysis of socio-political issues. Overall, it becomes clear that cultural transfer always concerns a specific cultural relationship that is influenced by history. Nevertheless, the approach and methodology of the present study are adaptable to other contexts. Accordingly, the translation dynamics between Belgium and Germany yield conclusions that can be transferred to other multilingual source contexts. In view of multilingualism and cultural plurality in Europe, the study lends itself to illuminating the complexity of cultural transfers in Europe.

Sarah Staes (2017- ) Vidas en traducción. Las paradojas de la escritura autobiográfica multilingüe hispanoamericana 1980-2015// Lives in Translation. The Paradoxes of Spanish-American Multilingual Autobiographical Writing 1980-2015
Supervisors: Ilse Logie (UGent) en An Van Hecke (KULeuven)
This project wants to investigate the complex relations between literary multilingualism and the construction of identity in contemporary autobiographical texts (1980-2015) written by authors connected to the Southern Cone (Argentina and Chile) and Mexico. By focusing on the stylistic and narratological dimensions of multilingualism in the texts, we want to test the hypothesis that a dominant metanarrative of identity split and struggle has given way to a tendency towards the embrace of productive doubling and playful reinvention of language.

Amaury de Sart (2015- ) La poétique hétérolingue dans Larva. Babel de una noche de San Juan (1983) de Julián Ríos: des jeux de traductions aux enjeux traductifs // Heterolingual poetics at stake in Larva. babel de una noche de San Juan (1983) by Julián Ríos: from translation games to translation challenges
Supervisors : Guy Rooryck (UGent) and Ilse Logie (UGent)
1984 saw the release one of the most debated works in contemporary Spanish literature: Larva. Babel de una noche de San Juan, the first novel written by Julián Ríos. Refusing to be read in a classic and linear manner, including more than 30 plays-on-words per page and 20 languages besides Spanish, this roman à tiroirs seems to break many linguistic, literary and discursive codes. It also displays close links with translation as it constantly moves from one language to another. Our project will be the first systematic study to investigate translation as a literary concept and a technique in the composition of (original) multilingual novels. By taking Larva as an indicative case of the relations between translation and literature, we will describe the encompassing role of translation as a compositional procedure and a conceptual device, from Larva’s main narrative structures to the verbal creations and rhetorical processes. This project entails a top-down approach based on the elaboration of a poetics of translation as a driving force revealing Larva’s writing and reading operations. In a second phase, we will investigate Larva’s translations in French in which Ríos collaborated, from a comparative and textual perspective. We will demonstrate how effective translations, as generative writing practices, are parts of a global literary project that seeks to redefine the limits of the (original) novel by expanding it towards other linguistic systems.

Charlotte Bollaert (2015- ) The Russian reception of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) from 1955 to 2005: a socio-cultural and translation-based approach
After an early Soviet canonization as a communist playwright, it seems Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the most prominent post-war continental thinkers, leaves Russia, a significant Other in his work and thinking, a legacy quite different from the one he leaves France. However, apart from his earliest reception, this has received very little attention in academia. This thesis aims at forming the first extensive inquiry into Sartre’s Russian reception in translation for the period 1955-2005. We will investigate both the translations and their context as spaces of reception. We will lead a comparative inquiry into Sartre’s Soviet and post-Soviet reception, in which we will consider the contextual dynamics influencing his translation, the specific conditions for the production and reception of translated literature in the Soviet and Russian contexts, and substantiate the whole with textual analyses of the translations. This way, we aim to not only uncover the understudied reception of Sartre in the Soviet Union and Russia, but also to add to the literature on the translation of Western authors and literature both under the Soviet regime and in post-Soviet Russia. Moreover, we will contribute to the almost non-existing body of literature comparing Soviet and post-Soviet translation practices, bringing new insights to the field as to the seemingly lasting impact of Soviet translation practices in the post-Soviet era.

Elies Smeyers (2014- 2019) Hugo Claus en français. Approche pluridisciplinaire des traductions et de leur impact sur l’image et la réception d’un transfert culturel à succès. Joint PhD UCL-UGent. Supervisors: Stéphanie Vanasten (Université catholique de Louvain) and Désirée Schyns (UGent). Project research is being conducted at the Université Catholique de Louvain and is funded through the Fonds Spéciaux de Recherche de l’UCL. The project was awarded with the prize Fondation Louvain: Prix scientifique de la Compagnie du bois sauvage. For more information, please see Vanderlinden, S. (2014). Qui est le Claus français? Un beau projet comparatiste et interdisciplinaire,  Septentrion. Arts, lettres et culture de Flandre et des Pays-Bas (Mars, 1), 82-83.

Thomas Spittael (2012-2015) The Translation, Cultural Mediation, and Reception in Britain of J.-J. Rousseau’s Discours sur les Sciences et les Arts, 1751-1779: A Study of Translational Poetics, Ideological Adaptation, and Print Cultural Appropriation. Supervisor: Sandro Jung (UGent) Co-supervisors: Lieve Jooken and Guy Rooryck (UGent)
Thomas Spittael worked as a doctoral researcher at Ghent University from January 2012 until December 2015, where he was affiliated to the research groups CLIV, Trace (Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication) and the Centre for the Study of Text and Print Culture (Department of Literary Studies). His doctoral research studied the translation and reception of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discours sur les Sciences et les Arts in Great Britain (1751-1779) and includes an analysis of the agents who were involved in the cultural mediation, a discourse analysis of eighteenth-century translations and research into the reception and ‘print culture’. The doctoral defence took place at Ghent University  on 7 December 2015.

Lidia Rura (2007-2014) The oeuvre of Aleksander Galič. Supervisors: Thomas Langerak (UGent), Piet Van Poucke (UGent). Lidia Rura’s research focuses on the work of Aleksander Galič, a Russian dissident poet. His work belongs to a special genre in the Soviet period that proved to be a very effective means to evade censorship and disseminate dissident ideas among a large audience. Nevertheless this genre has remained all but unknown in the West, unlike other types of dissident writing, and translations are scarce. The objectives of the research are to study the work of  Galič from three major perspectives: (i) the building of his dissident position, (ii) the hermeneutic analysis of his themes and their potential relevance for his home audience and readers in the West,  (iii) the contrast between the acclaimed reception of the poet as a dissident and the difficult reception of his work in the West. The three aspects involve historical-biographical research into the process of becoming a dissident, a thematic literary study that analyses the pre-receptive phase, a study of the post-receptive phase in terms of translation history and translation theory, and, finally, an analysis of the few translations that have been published.