EST Congress 2022 – Call for Papers for our thematic panel on ‘Popular music and cultural transfer’

As in earlier EST congresses, the 10th EST Congress will mainly be organized around thematic panels.  Papers can adopt various (inter)disciplinary, methodological, conceptual, professional, historical or geographical approaches relating to the concept or experience of the conference theme Advancing Translation Studies.

Below, you can find the description of a thematic panel that is organized by CETRA members Francis Mus (University of Antwerp) and Pieter Boulogne (KU Leuven), about ‘Popular music and cultural transfer’.

Popular music and cultural transfer

Conveners: Francis Mus, Pieter Boulogne

The complaint that “translations have by and large been ignored as bastard brats beneath the recognition (let alone concern) of truly serious literary scholars” (Holmes 1978, 69) has functioned more or less as the birth certificate of our discipline, but there are still “bastard brats” around that we ourselves have been overlooking. The translation of popular music, for instance, has not yet received a great deal of attention. When in the 1990s the translation of music grew into a normal object of study, canonical genres (opera, art songs) were privileged. The first studies dealing with translated popular music tended to be carried out by practitioners in the field rather than by scholars. Since two decades or so, song translation is receiving more and more academic coverage. Even so, as Lucile Desblache (2019, 27) denounces, “musical transnationalism, transculturalism and translation in the narrow (translation involving song lyrics or writings about music) or wide (transcreation or mediation of musical styles and genres) senses of the word, remain largely unexplored.” Drawing on insights from both Translation Studies and Cultural Transfer Studies, this panel aims to shed light on the various ways in which popular music, be it in the original form or in translation, spreads around the world, both historically and currently. Clearly, popular music tends to circulate and cross national borders at a very fast pace. When the lyrics are translated, the translation strategies applied to vocal music can greatly differ. In other cases, a full comprehension of the original lyrics is considered of minor importance. Sometimes, the relative inaccessibility of the song text in a given receiving community can even be advantageous to its success. Envisaging a scholarly discussion that goes beyond individual case studies and the multimodal comparison of source texts with corresponding target texts, this panel proposes to focus on the general mechanisms that are brought into play when popular music is transferred to a new cultural environment. Possible subtopics and approaches may include but are not limited to:

  • What are the similarities and differences between the transfer of popular music and the transfer of other cultural products, such as poetry?
  • What are the motives for the (non-)translation of popular songs?
  • What selection mechanisms and translation strategies are adopted for popular music?
  • What factors determine whether a translated version of a popular song is received as an autonomous cultural product?
  • What is the status of the author/translator/performer in the case of translated popular music?


DESBLACHE, Lucile. 2019. Music and Translation. New Mediations in the Digital Age. London : Palgrave Macmillan.

FRANZON, Johan. GREENALL, Annjo, K. KVAM, Sigmund. PARIANOU, Anastasia. (eds.) 2021. Song Translation: Lyrics in Contexts. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

GORLÉE, Dinda L. (ed.). 2005. Song and Significance: Virtues and Vices of Vocal Translation. Amsterdam/New York : Rodopi.

HOLMES, James S. 1978. “Describing Literary Translations: Models and Methods.” In Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies, edited by James S. Holmes, José Lambert & Raymond van den Broeck, 69-82. Leuven: Acco.

MINORS, Helen. (ed.) 2013. Music, text and translation. Camden : Bloomsbury.

SUSAM-SARAJEVA, Sebnem. 2008. Translation and Music. Special issue of The Translator. 14-2.

For an overview of the different thematic panels, see At the upcoming EST conference, there is also another panel dedicated to the topic of music and translation. It indicates there’s a growing scholarly interest in this fascinating research topic.

Papers presentations would comprise a presentation of 30 minutes in total, 20 minutes for presenting and 10 minutes for discussion. Papers can be submitted as part of a particular panel or as an individual presentation. Submissions to panels are highly encouraged.

A proposal should consist of name and affiliation of the paper/poster presenter(s), a title, a general description of approx. 350 words, and an essential bibliography (max. 5 publications).

Please send your proposal by October 15, 2021. Notification of paper acceptance will be given by December 20, 2021.

To submit your proposal, please follow the instructions on this EST web page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s