Online Lecture: Confronting the (un)speakable: the translatability of trauma.

30 May 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm


You are warmly invited to join Dr Sharon Deane-Cox (University of Strathclyde), for an online lecture - ‘Confronting the (un)speakable: the translatability of trauma’. The UCL Global Translation Lecture series is free and open to all.

This event is free.

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Kathryn Batchelor

‘Confronting the (un)speakable: the translatability of trauma’- Dr Sharon Deane-Cox (University of Strathclyde). Tuesday 30 May, 1-2pm (GMT)

The idea that trauma is unspeakable (Caruth 1996) has gained significant traction in cultural and literary trauma studies, often becoming the default critical stance with regard to its fictional and non-fictional representations. At the same time, though, critics such as LaCapra (2001), Kansteiner and Weilnböck (2010), and Mandel (2006), have been pushing back against this so-called anti-narrative approach, not least as it belies the capacity of trauma survivors to encode their lived experiences, to use words to work through and heal from their suffering.

Such conceptual (and often complex) debates over speakability make it difficult to understand the implications of grafting translation into the communication process. This paper aligns itself with proponents of the speakability of trauma, arguing that the very existence of trauma narratives renders them inherently translatable; to suggest otherwise takes us down problematic, abstracted routes that risk turning our focus away from the human at the centre of such texts.

Drawing primarily on French Holocaust survivor testimonies and their translations, the paper will further adopt an applied approach to the translatability of trauma to illustrate where the translator might best hear and respond to its inflections. It will then conclude by proposing future avenues for research in the underexplored area of trauma translation.  

About the Speaker

Sharon Deane-Cox

Senior Lecturer at University of Strathclyde

Sharon Deane-Cox is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Strathclyde, and her main research interests centre around the affordances of memory translation, as explored from the interdisciplinary perspectives of Translation Studies, Memory Studies, Holocaust Studies and Museum Studies. She has published a monograph on Retranslation (Bloomsbury, 2014), as well as numerous articles on Holocaust memory in translation, and she has also co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Memory (2022). Sharon was also principle investigator in the 'Translating Scotland's Heritage' research network, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, while a recent Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant focused her attention on recovering the history of translation and interpreting during the Belsen Relief Effort. In addition, Sharon is Associate Editor of the journal Translation Studies, a member of the Young Academy of Scotland, and a member of the IATIS Regional Workshops Committee.