Monday, May 16, 2011

Interlinguicity, Internationality and Shakespeare

Studies of early modern English national identity-formation have increasingly been enriched by a renewed attention to how national and linguistic models of identity were created and troubled by macaronic texts, visible translations, and border-crossings, whether real or imagined. Foreign languages animated the commerce of Europe (and the commerce of the Shakespearean stage) even as countries began to consolidate power along linguistic lines. While (often Marxist) textual criticism has explored these historical patterns with the benefit of a variety of post-structuralist methodologies, the present theatrical and cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare has feasted on the potential for Shakespeare to be translated, transferred and otherwise energized by the languages, conflicts and cultures of a deeply nonpolar world.
To an extent, all languages are interlinguistic, inasmuch as they are fractured into dialects and carry etymologies from other languages and other times. Further, all nations are international, in the sense that any nation almost always has the danger or the memory of disintegration, and borders are rarely if ever consistent between the “real” (political) boundary, “imaginary” (fictionally dreamed) boundary, and so on. The space between languages, like the space between nations, offered great risk and reward in bustling international trade, and was processed simultaneously in a variety of incompatible registers: moral, linguistic, confessional, nationalistic, eschatological, and proto-capitalistic. We live in another set of spaces between languages, which offers different risks and rewards; any effort to cite, recover or translate Shakespeare involves confronting the fluidity of language, even within English. The papers of this panel explore these issues in ways which cross conventional boundaries of language as well as those between periods of study.
Though this collection would be primarily aimed at the Shakespearean community, it would have a secondary market in the Renaissance field more generally, and it would reflect the active field of cultural history of linguistic transfer. The essays present a natural bridge between New Historicist approaches to situating literary texts and the newer, very vibrant field of performance studies.
A note on terminology: the word “translation” is a bit problematic; although the theory of translation and ways of applying that theory have been expanding rapidly in the field of Renaissance studies, the term “translation” still carries with it a tendency to think in terms of transmission between discrete languages and the relay of ideas between discrete cultures. In advancing the corollary terms interlinguicity and internationality, I seek to better capture the kinds of research into the social history of texts that have been recently thriving in the field, but I welcome essays that ignore or refute these words.
Part I: Languages between nations
Part II: Strife within English
Part III: Multi-linguistic Shakespeare in our time