Abstracts of my articles and conference talks

Here are abstracts of some of my articles and conference talks:

 

Vsemirnaia Literatura [World Literature]: Intersections of Translating and Original Literary Writing

 

Keywords: Russia, Vsemirnaia Literatura, literary translation, professional project

 

In this article, the early Soviet translation project “Vsemirnaia Literatura” (1918–1924) will be analyzed from the point of view of the sociology of professions as applied to translation studies. The Vsemirnaia Literatura project was initiated as a measure to secure one interest group’s control over literary translation in Soviet Russia. The group was structured and acted as a professional body. It secured a social niche for its activity. It formed a governing structure (an editorial board and administrators), which made sure that a high professional standard in literary translation was observed. The group also took care of raising new generations of literary translators. In short, Vsemirnaia Literatura laid the foundation for the Soviet school of literary translation.

 

Ключевые слова: Россия, «Всемирная литература», художественный перевод, профессиональный проект

 

В настоящей статье издательский проект «Всемирная литература» (1918–1924) в его переводческой части рассматривается в терминах социологии профессий. Проект «Всемирная литература» стал попыткой одной группы обеспечить себе контроль над литературным переводом в Советской России. Структура и деятельность группы позволяют говорить о ней как о важном шаге в формировании перевода как профессии. Проект позволил художественному переводу начать эмансипироваться от оригинальной литературной деятельности, впрочем не порывая с ней прочных связей. Была сформирована управляющая структура (редакционный совет и администрация), которая следила за тем, что художественный перевод осуществлялся на высоком профессиональном уровне. Группа также взяла на себя подготовку новых поколений литературных переводчиков. Иначе говоря, «Всемирная литература» внесла значительный вклад в формирование основ советской школы литературного перевода.

 

A Systemic Centenary of Russian Poetic Translation

 

Keywords: Russian poetic translation; site Vek perevoda; Evgenii Vitkovskii; Ethnomethodology; Luhmann; Polysystem theory; Bourdieu

 

This article analyses systemic properties of Russian poetic translation as exemplified by the online collection Vek perevoda [A Century of Translation]. The compiler of the collection, the poet and translator Evgenii Vitkovskii (Witkowsky), describes Russian poetic translation as distinct from Russian original poetry. This is the principle which governs Vitkovskii’s treatment of his collection. Drawing on ethnomethodology, Vitkovskii’s vision of Russian poetic translation is interpreted as a view from inside. Vitkovskii’s description can also be interpreted as a vision of Russian poetic translation as a systemic phenomenon. To test the viability of such vision, Luhmann’s social systems theory has been applied.

 

Strategies of Translating Sexualities as Part of the Secularization of Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Russia

 

(Comparative Literature Studies, Special Issue 'The Gender and Queer Politics of Translation: Literary, Historical, and Cultural Approaches', ed. by William J. Spurlin, Vol. 51, no. 2, 2014)

 

Keywords: Russia; translation; sexuality; Luhmann; Sappho; Pushkin

 

This articleconsiders one of the understudied areas of Russian translation history—the role translation played in introducing works of verbal art with a distinct sexual component as part of the program of westernization of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russia. The purpose is to look at the broad spectrum of translation strategies that were used in order to introduce sexuality as a literary theme into a new secularized Russia spanning from bowdlerized to faithful renderings, and thereby liberalize social mores and challenge dominant systemic discourse. With the help of Luhmann’s social systems theory, translation is shown to be both a means of enriching the nascent Russian literary subsystem with established masterpieces of Greco-Roman antiquity and western European vernacular literatures and, at the same time, not infrequently forcing unpalatable manifestations of sexuality into the target system’s set of values. The author analyzes the vicissitudes of translations of Sappho’s Second Ode and Pushkin’s use of translation techniques in order to challenge the official religious and state establishment in some of his controversial poetic works, notably AnImitation of the Arabic, Monk, and Gavriiliada.

 

What’s Translation to the System, or the System to It?

(Logos, 2012, no. 3, see here)

 

Keywords: translation, sociology, westernization of Russia, Niklas Luhmann, social systems theory.

 

The article considers translation as a social function (sub)system in terms of Luhmann’s social systems theory and as a conditio sine qua non of Russia’s modernization. Drawing upon Russian historical texts, the authors shows the genesis of translation as a subsystem in Russia viewed as a social function-based system. Three axes of translation’s functioning in Russia’s westernizationare singled out. The first axis is the translation-facilitated radical change of the dominant discourse in the social systemic communication—Russia began learning from Western Europe. This is an example of translation’s intrasystemic workings. The second axis is Russia’s translation-mediated self-projection into the social-systemic environment—Russia manipulated its environment by commissioning translation of positive information about itself. Finally, the third axis is Russia’s integration into the modern global function system. Once again, translation played a key role in making Russia’s function subsystems ‘compatible’ with and part and parcel of subsystems of the overall world mega-system. The second and third axes are extrasystemic involvements of translation.

 

Что перевод систем? Что ему она?

 

Ключевые слова: перевод, социология, европеизация России, Никлас Луман, теория социальных систем.

 

В настоящей статье перевод рассматривается как социально-функциональная (под)система (в терминологии теории социальных систем Никласа Лумана) и как conditiosinequanon европеизации России, особенно в петровский и постпетровский периоды. Опираясь на исторические документы и памятники, автор демонстрирует генезис перевода как подсистемы российской социально-функциональной системы. Выделяются три оси функционирования перевода в процессе европеизации России. Первая – это радикальное изменение доминирующего дискурса социальной системы: Россия начала учиться у Западной Европы. Перевод стал ключевым фактором в этом процессе. Это пример внутрисистемного значения перевода. Вторая ось – это опосредованное переводом самопроецирование  России как системы на ее социально-системное окружение. Россия манипулировала своим окружением в немалой степени с помощью переводов на западноевропейские языки текстов с позитивной информацией о себе. Наконец, третья ось связана с интеграцией России в современную глобальную функциональную систему. Перевод сыграл опять-таки важнейшую роль в гармонизации функциональных подсистем российской социальной системы с подсистемами складывающейся мировой (тогда преимущественно европейской) мега-системы. Вторая и третья оси демонстрируют внешнесистемные функции перевода.

Across the Cross: Translation, Transgression, War

(journal translation)

 

Keywords: translation; boundary phenomenon; crossing phenomenon; Luhmann; Spencer Brown; Foucault; transgression; war  

The paper compares translation with transgression and war. It is argued that such comparison is not only possible (because all the three play the same social-systemic role, being boundary phenomena), but is necessary. In order to better appreciate translation’s distinct nature, which, until recently in translation studies, has been theorized predominantly as a verbum-centered activity, it is suggested to step outside this verbum-centrism and consider translation as a social systemic phenomenon akin to other social phenomena which function as ‘boundary crossers’. What follows is an attempt to adumbrate a new line of research of social aspects of translation.

 

Women-Translators in Russia

 

(MonTI. Monografías de Traducción e Interpretación)

 

Keywords: Women. Translation. History. Russia. Soviet Union.

 

The paper considers the history of women’s involvement in translation in Russia. Theemphasis is laid on social issues of women translators’ work. The main problems discussedare as follows: How have women contributed to social and literary processes?To what extent were translational activities of women different and/or separate fromthose of men? Women participated in all major social processes in Russian and Soviethistory. From the eighteenth century onwards to the present day, they have beeninvolved in translational work and other types of social-systemic transfer (primarilyfrom the West). Women played their role of translators in the same spheres wheremen did.

 

Keywords: Translation; Sexuality; Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov

 

Holes in the Closet, or 'An Unsaid Love': A Case Study of K.R. (Grand Prince Konstantin Konstantinovish Romanov)

 

The presentation considers the case of Grand Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich who signed his original poetry and translations with his nom de plume K.R. He was married and fathered nine children, yet in his diaries he left direct evidence of what he called his ‘sin’ (grekh), ‘vice’ (porok) or ‘lust’ (pokhot’) whose objects were males: “I fantasize about the bathhouse attendants whom I know – Aleksei Frolov and especially Sergei Syroezhkin. My passion is always towards these simple [=not belonging to the nobility] men… outside their circle I have never sought or found co-participants in this sin” (April 19, 1904). Such confessions are always accompanied by his sincere Christian repentance. Metaphorically, one may speak of ‘holes’ in Grand Prince’s closet as a bisexual man. Arguably, another type of holes in his closet can be found in his poetry and translations. However, unlike direct confessions of his diary, K.R. is considerably more discrete as a poet and translator. I focus on several of his poetic translations (from Rückert, Helen Engelhardt-Schnellenstein, Sully Prudhomme) some of which can be interpreted as telling hints at the translator’s sexuality. K.R.’s output as a translator (and poet) is especially interesting because of the tension between the degrees of his openness and willingness to discuss his sexuality which was not a trivial matter for a member of the royal family, married and father of nine children, as well as a statesman occupying important positions in the government. To throw K.R.’s translator profile into a sharper relief I compare him with another poet and translator of a comparably high social status—Ivan Dmitriev who expressed his homosexuality in his poetic translations.