In the wake of the SEW Symposium Outlanding Woolf, October 2013 – during which we considered different modes of estrangement and outlanding in and of Woolf’s writing – we now propose to focus on the question of translation insofar as this both inhabits and emerges from her Ōuvre. This implies thinking through ways in which the theory and practice of translation invites us not only to think about the intricacy and interlinking of reading, writing and dissemination in terms of linguistic, poetic or philosophical transposition, but also to extend the question to translating Woolf into other disciplines and other media such as the theatre, visual arts, or dance.


We know that Virginia Woolf read in other languages, as we know she read in translation and also collaborated in translations from Greek and Russian. We know that the Hogarth Press published the first translation of Freud into English by Strachey, that psychoanalysis in exile circulated through Bloomsbury. So we might consider how this encounter with foreign languages, literatures and continental thought informs Woolf’s thinking and her poetics, and furthermore how her Ōuvre itself is inhabited by questions of translation and transposition.


The fact that To the Lighthouse and The Waves were translated into other languages in Woolf’s time by writers or well known translators invites us to think about the translation, dissemination and displacement of her writing in terms of the dialogue and interpenetration of different Modernisms. Meanwhile ever-renewed endeavours to retranslate Woolf’s writing prompt us to think about its untranslatable quality in the Benjaminian sense [4], along with questions of orality, layering of registers, the use of the vernacular, of citationality and of how different sensorial forms take root in a language and resist translation: the question of Woolf’s own phenomenology of perception for example. Along the same lines, the many theatrical adaptations of Woolf’s Ōuvre can be explored in translational terms, taking into account how the very activity of translation is intricately bound up with intermediality [5] as it is with the emergence of other art forms such as painting, music and dance from the body of the text.


We might finally consider the dissemination of Woolf’s writing in other languages and disciplines, by addressing the question of foreign readings, such as those by Deleuze or RanciŹre [6] in France, as a particular form of deterritorialisation.


Such are the branches we might find stemming from a Trans-Woolf genealogy.


Proposals (400 words and short biobib.) may be addressed to by December 31st 2014.


[4] Walter Benjamin, « The Task of the Translator », trans. Harry Zohn, in Illuminations, London : Fontana, 1982, 69-83, 70-71.


[5] Henri Meschonnic, «Traduire, C’est mettre en scŹne », Poétique du Traduire, Lagrasse : Verdier, 1999, 394-419.


[6] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1987.


Jacques RanciŹre, Le fil perdu : Essais sur la fiction moderne, Paris : La Fabrique, 2014.