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Sherry Simon, Language Traffic: Translating Across Urban Space

Fri, Mar 10, 2017    11am

Language Traffic: Translating Across Urban Space

Sherry Simon, Concordia University

Responses by Laura Kurgan and Lydia Liu

Sherry Simon is a professor in the French Department at Concordia University.  She has published widely in the areas of literary, intercultural and translation studies, most recently exploring the cultural history of linguistically divided cities and the  multilingual cities of the former Habsburg empire.  Among her publications are Translating Montreal. Episodes in the Life of a Divided City (2006) and Cities in Translation: Intersections of Language and Memory. (2012), both of which have appeared in French translation.  She has edited or co-edited numerous volumes, including Translation Effects: The Shaping of Modern Canadian Culture (with K. Mezei and L. von Flotow), (2014) and Speaking Memory. How Translation Shapes City Life ( 2016).  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a recipient of a Killam Fellowship, and a member of the Académie des lettres du Québec.

Abstract: This lecture introduces the translational city from both historical and contemporary perspectives, examining episodes of translation which were culturally and politically decisive for urban identities (Thessaloniki, Czernowitz, Calcutta). Mapping translation flows principally in Montreal, I’ll be arguing that understanding cities not only as multilingual but as translational allows us to determine which languages count in the civic conversation. To focus on circulation is to take into account the direction, intensity and affect of language traffic in city space, and the relations of conflict or convergence which result.

Organized by the Center for Spatial Research and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society as part of the Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice lecture series.

This lecture series focuses on the role of language in structuring cities, bringing together speakers to address the ways that urban spaces and their digital traces are physically shaped by linguistic diversity, and to examine the results of languages coming into contact and conflict.