International conference BELTRANS

Van 28 november 2024 – tot 29 november 2024

In het kader van het BELTRANS-project zal er op 28 en 29 november een internationale conferentie plaatsvinden rondom het thema 'Boek vertalingen in meertalige staten'.

De tekst gaat verder in het Engels

Book translation involves border crossings of many kinds: between languages, cultures, geographies, historical periods, genres, etc. In this conference we want to focus on how literature crosses language borders within states, foregrounding in particular the actors, institutions and dynamics that shape translation in multilingual states. Large-scale histories of (literary) translation are most often written in and about countries whose territorial borders equal language borders (e.g. Frank & Turk 2004; Schögler 2023; Sapiro 2008; Schoenaers 2021).

But monolingual states are rather the exception than the rule in the international system, and many officially monolingual states sustain multilingual literary cultures, whether via officially recognized regional and local languages, or non-recognized variants. How can the state of the art of translation research be enriched by singling out “those situations in which nation state and linguistic unity do not overlap” (Leperlier 2022: 130; Leperlier 2021)? Within any given state, books are indeed often produced in ‘plurilingual spaces’ and in different (variants of) languages (Leperlier 2021).

Do these books reach the citizens of the other linguistic community(ies) within that state, and if so, how? How is multilingual book production organised in a single-state context and what are its implications for nation-building and transnational relations? These questions can be addressed by drawing inspiration from recent work on multilingual spaces and national (literary) translation histories (e.g. Riikonen e.a. 2007; Kahn 2017), literary and cultural historiography (e.g. Chapman 2003; Schreiber 2016; Vanacker & Verschaffel 2022), cultural transfer and reception studies (e.g. D’hulst e.a. 2014; D’hulst & Koskinen 2021), sociology of translation (e.g. Sapiro 2008, Heilbron 2010), cultural policy and translation policy research (e.g. Meylaerts 2011 & 2018, Schreiber & D’hulst 2017, Maumevi?ien? e.a. 2019, Paquette 2019, McMartin 2019, Schögler 2023), transcultural studies (Bachmann-Medick 2019), memory studies (Erll 2011, Deane-Cox & Spiessens 2022) and big translation history (Roig-Sanz & Folica 2021).

Call for papers

In this conference, we encourage contributors to explore how books circulate through translation in multilingual states. We seek original conference papers that address the relationship between a state’s multilingualism and its intra-state translation flows.

In relation to this central question, a number of sub-questions can be raised, including but not limited to:

  • What are the flows of book translation in a multilingual state (direction, evolution)?
  • How can we collect and map data on intra-state translation flows? What databases and sources are available for this purpose and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
  • What role do branding and positioning play in translation flows in multilingual states, particularly as it relates to different genres, themes, authors and mediators?
  • Do hierarchies or other kinds of relationships between languages play a role in intra-state book translation flows?
  • What is the relationship between book translation in a multilingual state and language proficiency?
  • What is the relationship between book translation and (cultural) policy in multilingual states? Which institutions play a role and to what political ends?
  • What is the role of third actors (such as other regions, linguistic or cultural communities, or states) in shaping the translation flows of a multilingual state? Can translation flows be isolated in the context of a single state or should a transnational context be taken into account?
  • What is the relationship between book translation and identity formation or cultural memory creation in multilingual states?
  • Does it make sense to speak of national literatures in multilingual states?
  • What are the usefulness and limits of a ‘national bibliography’ and national ‘legal deposit’?
  • Do translated books that emerge in multilingual states or circulate via intra-state translation flows exhibit specific paratextual features?
  • What kinds of intra-state translation flows typify the (literary) cultures of multilingual states besides book translations? Do more translations take place outside the medium of the book, e.g. in theatre, magazines, websites,…?

Proposals (ca. 300 words) for 20-minute conference papers and a biographical note should be sent to by 1 April 2024. We encourage submissions from researchers around the world and in all career stages. Proposals and papers should be written in English. The committee will announce its decisions by 2 May 2024. Selected contributions will be considered for inclusion in a peer-reviewed volume. Accepted papers and presentations will be made openly available with a DOI identifier to promote Open Science.

Organising committee

  • Elke Brems (KULeuven)
  • Emmanuel Debruyne (UCLouvain)
  • Clara Folie (UCLouvain)
  • Ewoud Goethals (KULeuven)
  • Sven Lieber (KBR)
  • Reine Meylaerts (KULeuven)
  • Timothy Sirjacobs (KULeuven)
  • Stéphanie Vanasten (UCLouvain)
  • Ann Van Camp (KBR)
  • Sophie Vandepontseele (KBR)


Coming soon

Practical information

This conference is part of the BELTRANS-project regarding Intra-Belgian (literary) book translations since 1970, funded by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) Research Programme Brain 2.0 and by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), and is organised in association with Royal Library of Belgium, KU Leuven and UCLouvain.

Website KBR: International conference BELTRANS: Book translation in multilingual states (1945-2024) • KBR