• Time: 09:00 - 16:45
  • Date: Thursday 22 April 2021 - Saturday 24 April 2021
  • Location: University of Leeds (online)
  • Interval: Every day
  • Cost: Free event
  • Type: Conferences
  • Open to: General public

A three-day conference to discuss translated literature within the Italian literary field and Italian literature in translation abroad from many points of view and different methodologies.

Translation as Position-Taking in the Literary Field.

Agents and institutions of translated literature in Italy and of Italian literature abroad (20th and 21st Century).

22 –24 April 2021 University of Leeds, UK (online)


Register via the Conference Registration Form.  

Please register by 18 April 2021 in order to receive the links to the zoom sessions before the start of conference.

Contact details

Conference details 

“Translations do not take place in a vacuum” (Blakesley 2018). They cannot be seen as isolated textual entities, detached from the field in which they are produced and that provides for their signification (Sapiro 2008).

It is indeed important to investigate translated literature as “part and parcel of the target literature’s literary corpus” (Sisto 2019), by conceiving translations as the actual selections (position-takings) by literary producers and mediators among all the possibilities (positions) in a target literary field (Bourdieu 1996).

Although the notion of translated literature dates back to Even-Zohar’s seminal work, this approach has only recently been adopted by scholars working on the Italian literary field (Billiani 2007; La Penna 2008; Milani 2017; Baldini et al. 2018) and the translation of Italian literature within specific target fields (Bokobza 2008; Schwartz 2018).

The aim of the conference is to foster critical discussion on translated literature as part of the target literature, by focusing on literary institutions (publishing houses, book series, journals) and agents (translators, literary agents, editors), and the composite sociocultural factors driving the selection, production, and publication of literary translations.

“Calling into question the politics of canonisation and moving resolutely away from ideas of universal literary greatness”(Bassnett and Trivedi 1999), we are particularly interested in social categories of writers who have been dismissed by literary critics who insisted on “the autonomy of the aesthetic” (Bloom 1994); in other words, writers who challenge the ‘Western canon’. 

The conference aims to explore the mechanisms of reception, dissemination, recognition and popularisation in the Italian literary system of foreign literature. This will include literature by women authors in translation, by feminist translators, authors from non-hegemonic/non-central languages, non-white, minoritarian and marginalised authors/groups and collectives. We are also interested in similar mechanisms by which Italian literature is translated and received beyond Italy.

Keynote speakers at the conference will be Professor Susan Bassnett (Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow; President of the British Comparative Literature Association), Dr Jacob Blakesley (Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Literary Translation at the University of Leeds) and Dr Cecilia Schwartz (Associate Professor in Italian at Stockholm University).


All times are UK time (BST) 

Day 1 – Thursday 22 April 2021

9.00-9.15am Introduction/welcome

9.15-10.15am Cecilia Schwartz (Stockholm University, Sweden), keynote lecture, Cherchez la femme! On women’s position-takings in the literary semi-periphery

10.15-10.30am Coffee break


Panel 1, Paratextual elements in women’s writing

Chair: Cecilia Schwartz (Stockholm University, Sweden)


  • Eleonora Federici (University of Ferrara, Italy) The ‘Italian’ Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie: reframing her works and virtual persona for the Italian reader
  • Anna Finozzi (Stockholm University, Sweden) The paratextual bibliomigrancy of Italian postcolonial literature. The case of Igiaba Scego 
  • Luisa Marino (University of Naples “L'Orientale”, Italy) Women translators/Women in translation. The Italian reception of Stay with Me by Ayọbámi Adébáyọ

12–1.30pm Lunch break


Panel 2, Translation policies and practices in the publishing market: Networks of collaboration

Chair: Sara Sullam (University of Milan, Italy)


  • Barbara Bellini (University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, France) Translation policies in large publishing groups: Contemporary French and German fiction in the Italian editorial market (2005-2015)
  • Daniela La Penna (University of Reading, UK) Theorizing the Business Contact Zone: Inter-firm Transactions and Translation Practices
  • Margherita Orsi (University of Bologna, Italy) How Italian intellectuals worked with newsstand publications towards the reception of two stories by Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson

3–3.15pm Coffee break


Panel 3, Translation policies and practices in the publishing market: Foreign influence and reception

Chair: Jacob Blakesley (University of Leeds, UK)


  • Flavia Di Battista (Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy) An Hermetic Canon for Post WWII Italian Schools. The Antologia di scrittori stranieri ad uso dei licei by Carlo Bo, Tommaso Landolfi and Leone Traverso
  • Cinzia Scarpino (University of Turin, Italy) Erskine Caldwell’s Influence on Italian writers, 1930s-1960s. Or, “the spectacular disintegration” of an American “new legend”

Day 2 – Friday 23 April 2021

9–9.15am Introduction/welcome

9.15–10.15am Jacob Blakesley (University of Leeds, UK), keynote lecture, A case of bibliomigrancy: Dante’s Divine Comedy in worldwide libraries

10.15–10.30am Coffee break


Panel 1, Shaping the trajectory: authors and mediators

Chair: Sara Ramos Pinto (University of Leeds, UK)


  • Andréia Guerini and Elena Manzato (Federal Universityof Santa Catarina, Brasil) Jorge Amado’s Italian women translatresses 
  • Marisa Mourinha (University of Lisbon, Portugal) Exporting the Portuguese canon: Lobo Antunes in Italy
  • Francesco Samarini (Indiana University, US) Taming the Young Author: Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus in Italy

12–1.30pm Lunch break


Panel 2, The role and agency of translators: The case of William Weaver

Chair: Gigliola Sulis (University of Leeds, UK)


  • Carolina Rossi (University of Pisa, Italy) The First English Translation of La Cognizione del Dolore by William Weaver 
  • Anna Saroldi (University of Oxford, UK) William Weaver, Marguerite Caetani and Helen Wolff. Who was the hero of Italian Translations? 
  • Serenella Zanotti (Roma Tre University, Italy) “Like Wotan gazing on Valhalla”: Exploring agency in William Weaver’s archives at the Lilly Library

3–3.15pm Coffee break


Panel 3, The role and agency of translators: Cultural gatekeepers

Chair: Elisa Segnini (University of Glasgow, UK)


  • Anna De Biasio (University of Bergamo, Italy) Ada Prospero: A Neglected Gatekeeper in the “Decade of Translations” 
  • Marcella Uberti-Bona (University of Milan, Italy) Literary translation from Italian by the Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite

Day 3 – Saturday 24 April 2021

9-9.15am Introduction/welcome

9.15–10.15am Susan Bassnett (University of Glasgow/University of Warwick, UK), keynote lecture

10.15–10.30am Coffee break


Panel 1, Power relations and cultural flows between literary systems

Chair: Alessio Baldini (University of Leeds)


  • Marco Bucaioni (University of Lisbon, Portugal) Translating African Literature from Portuguese into Italian: Text-selection as position-taking against the literary status quo 
  • Marta Huber and Vanda Mikšić (University of Zadar, Croatia) Translation and Reception of Italian Literature in Croatia (1991 –2020) 
  • Martina Ožbot (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) Italian and Slovene Literary Cultures - How Close, How Far Apart?


Panel 2, Exporting Italian literature: Publishers, book series and anthologies

Chair: Anna Baldini (University for Foreigners of Siena, Italy)


  • Marta Arnaldi (University of Oxford, UK) Sociologies of Diaspora: Translating the Peripheries of Contemporary Italian Poetry in the US
  • Marco De Cristofaro (University for Foreigners of Siena,Italy/University of Caen Normandy, France) "Seuls nous importaient les anonymes des bibliothèques": Italians of Le Promeneur challenge main French publishing houses

1.30–1.45pm Closing remarks