Call for Papers: ‘Beyond the translator’s invisibility. Critical reflections and new perspectives’

Volume Editors

Peter J. Freeth, University of Leeds, UK

Rafael O. Treviño, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, USA

In The Translator’s Invisibility (1995), Lawrence Venuti argued literary translations are deemed most acceptable by Anglophone readers and critics when they appear to be transparent, original texts with an invisible translator. Focusing on the ethical implications of this illusion of transparency, Venuti calls for translators to become more visible in their work by adopting “foreignizing methods” that minimize the “ethnocentric violence of translation” and resist the hegemonic linguistic and cultural position of English (1995:20). The limitations of Venuti’s selectively Anglophone and literary focus, as well as the challenges that stem from his distilling of complex theoretical concepts into binary oppositions, have been criticized by several scholars (Pym 1996, Delabastita 2010). Nonetheless, the concept of the translator’s invisibility and its ethical implications have seen widespread migration across the discipline, proving fruitful for research into translator and interpreter (in)visibility in textual, paratextual and extratextual spaces (Koskinen 2000). For instance, research on the visibility of translators in non-Anglophone contexts (Corbett 1999, Bilodeau 2013) and in other historical periods (Coldiron 2012, 2018) has expanded on Venuti’s original work and demonstrated the relevance of translator (in)visibility across a variety of cultural and historical contexts.

However, as we turn to sociologically informed and multimodal research contexts, and the scope of translation and interpreting studies as a discipline continues to broaden, the theoretical concept of translator (in)visibility has been increasingly applied in contexts far removed from Venuti’s original focus on literary translation. For example, Littau (1997) and Hassen (2012) highlight the relevance of the translator’s (in)visibility in digital contexts, while others have applied visibility to other translational practices, such as Bielsa and Bassnett (2008) focus on political and news translation and the visibility of translators within such organizations, and Baker’s (2010) and Ellcessor’s (2015) interpreting-based perspectives. As such, the issue of visibility has stretched beyond specific literary texts and individual translators, to the overall visibility of translation and interpreting within a variety of contexts, thereby creating new challenges for researching the notion of visibility within these spaces and requiring alternative approaches.

This volume therefore seeks to critically reflect upon current theoretical understandings of visibility across translation and interpreting studies, as well as to highlight potential new directions and approaches for visibility focused research. Doing so will provide new insights into how we can continue to investigate the visibility of translation and interpreting outside the realms of Venuti’s original theoretical approach, such as in digital, multimodal or sociological research contexts. To achieve this, the volume understands translation and interpreting studies in the broadest sense by incorporating intralingual and intersemiotic translational practices, such as subtitling, sign-language interpreting, rewriting and adaptation, alongside a traditional understanding of translation and the translator’s (in)visibility.

The editors welcome contributions of 6,000–8,000 words focusing on, but not limited to, the following issues:

  *   the adoption and spread of translator (in)visibility as a theoretical concept from literary translation studies to other subfields within translation and interpreting studies;

  *   critical reflections on current theoretical understandings of (in)visibility within translation and interpreting studies;

  *   the (in)visibility of translators and translation outside of Anglophone contexts and the impact of this on existing theoretical approaches;

  *   the (in)visibility of translators and translation outside of literary contexts, for example audio-visual translation, spoken and sign-language interpreting, adaptation, and rewriting;

  *   the impact of digital media and texts on the (in)visibility of translators and translation; and

  *   the (in)visibility of translators and translation in relation to other textual producers and practices, such as authors and editors.

Abstract review

Abstracts will be sent to the volume editors above at<> by September 15, 2020. The length of the abstract must be 500–750 words, inclusive of references. The volume editors will review all submissions based on relevance to the scope of the volume and the overall quality of the abstract. Authors invited to submit a full manuscript will be notified by October 30, 2020.

Chapter manuscript submission

Authors must adhere to Chicago style guidelines and follow the author-date system for citations. The length of the manuscript must be 6,000–8,000 words, exclusive of references. Authors are responsible for obtaining the appropriate permissions for copyrighted material.

Manuscript review

All manuscripts will be double peer reviewed. Upon receipt of the chapter manuscript, the volume editors will submit it to two reviewers. Based on this review, the editors will make a decision to accept (with or without revisions) or reject the manuscripts. An invitation to revise a manuscript does not guarantee publication. Upon receipt of (revised) chapter manuscripts, the entire volume will be submitted for a final independent review by the publisher and series editors. Authors may be requested to revise their chapter manuscripts further at this second stage of review. Again, invitations to revise do not guarantee publication.


Call for papers issued: May 20, 2020

Abstract due to volume editors: September 15, 2020

Decision on abstract: October 30, 2020

Submission of chapter manuscript: April 30, 2021

Decisions to authors, with review comments if applicable: July 30, 2021

Revised chapter manuscript due, based on reviews: September 30, 2021

Submission of book manuscript to publisher for additional review: October 29, 2021

Manuscript feedback to authors: February 2022

Submission of final book manuscript to publisher: May 2022

Publication: Fall 2022


Baker, Mona. 2010. “Interpreters and translators in the war zone: narrated and narrators.” The Translator 16 (2): 197-222.

Bielsa, Esperança and Susan Bassnett. 2008. Translation in Global News. London: Routledge.

Bilodeau, Isabelle. 2013. Discursive Visibility: Quantifying the Practice of Translator Commentary in Contemporary Japanese Publishing. Emerging Research in Translation Studies: Selected Papers of the CETRA Research Summer School 2012. Accessed 25 February 2020.

Coldiron, A. E. B. 2012. “Visibility now: Historicizing foreign presences in translation.” Translation Studies 5 (2): 189-200.

——. 2018. “The Translator’s Visibility in Early Printed Portrait-Images and the Ambiguous Example of Margaret More Roper.” In Thresholds of Translation: Paratexts, Print, and Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Britain (1473-1660), edited by Marie-Alice Belle and Brenda M. Hosington, 51-74. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Corbett, John. 2000. “Translating into Scots.” TradTerm 6: 39-59.

Delabastita, Dirk. 2010. “Histories and Utopias: On Venuti’s The Translator’s Invisibility.” The Translator 16 (1): 125-134.

Ellcessor, Elizabeth. 2015. “Is there a sign for that? Media, American Sign Language interpretation, and the paradox of visibility.” Perspectives 23 (4): 586-598.

Hassen, Rim. 2012. “Online Paratexts and the Challenges of Translator’s Visibility: A Case of Women Translators of the Quran.” New Voices in Translation Studies 8: 66-81.

Koskinen, Kaisa. 2000. “Beyond Ambivalence: Postmodernity and the Ethics of Translation.” PhD Doctoral dissertation, Department of Translation Studies, Tampere University.

Littau, Karin. 1997. “Translation in the age of postmodern production: from text to intertext to hypertext.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 32 (1): 81-96.

Pym, Anthony. 1996. “Review article of Lawrence Venuti’s The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.” Target 8 (2): 165-177.

Venuti, Lawrence. 1995. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. Edited by Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere.Translation Studies. London and New York: Routledge.



Kobus Marais, University of the Free State

Reine Meylaerts, KU Leuven

Maud Gonne, UNamur/ UCLouvain

Since the emergence of complexity thinking, scholars from the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities are renewing efforts to construct a unified framework that would unite all scholarly activity. The work of Terrence Deacon (2013), at the interface of (at least) physics, chemistry, biology, neurology, cognitive science, semiotics, anthropology and philosophy, is a great, though not the only, example of this kind of work. It is becoming clear that this paradigm of complex relational and process thinking means, among others, that the relationships between fields of study are more important than the differences between them. Deacon’s contribution, for instance, lies not (only) in original findings in any of the fields in which he works but (also) in the ways in which he relates bodies of knowledge to one another. An example would be his links between a theory of work (physics) and a theory of information (cybernetics) by means of a theory of meaning (semiotics).

This line of thinking indeed situates semiotics and biosemiotics in the centre of the abovementioned debate (also see Hoffmeyer, 2008; Kauffman, 2012).

In semiotics, Susan Petrilli’s (2003) thought-provoking collection covers a wide variety of chapters focused on translation, which she conceptualizes as semiotic process. Her work made it possible to link biosemiotics and semiotics through the notion of “translation”, which is what we aim to explore further in this conference.

Michael Cronin’s work in translation studies links up with the above through his use of the notion of “ecology”. To apprehend interconnectedness and vulnerability in the age of the Anthropocene, his work challenges text-oriented and linear approaches while engaging in eco-translational thinking. He calls tradosphere all translation systems on the planet, all the ways in which information circulates between living and non-living organisms and is translated into a language or a code that can be processed or understood by the receiving entity (Cronin, 2017, p. 71).  The aptness of Cronin’s work on ecology finds a partner in that of Bruno Latour, whose development of a sociology of translation (2005) responds to the need to reconnect the social and natural worlds and to account for the multiple connections that make what he calls the ‘social’.

In an effort further to work out the implications of this new way of thinking, Marais (2019, p. 120) conceptualized translation in terms of “negentropic semiotic work performed by the application of constraints on the semiotic process” (see also Kress 2013). Building on Peirce, namely that the meaning of a sign is its translation into another sign, translation is defined as a process that entails semiotic work done by constraining semiotic possibilities. This conceptualization allows for the study of all forms of meaning-making, i.e. translation, under a single conceptual framework, but it also allows for a unified ecological view for both the sciences and the humanities. “The long standing distinction between the human and social sciences and the natural and physical sciences is no longer tenable in a world where we cannot remain indifferent to the more than human” (Cronin, 2017, p. 3).

These kind of approaches open ample possibilities for a dialogue between Translation Studies, Semiotics and Biosemiotics, exploring translation not only in linguistic and anthropocentric terms, but as a semiotic process that can take place in and between all (living) organisms – human and non-human organic and inorganic, material and immaterial alike. Not only the translation of Hamlet into French, or of oral speech into subtitles, but also communication between dolphins or between a dog and its master, or moving a statue from one place to another, or rewatching a film are translation processes. However, many of the implications of this line of thinking still need to be explored, and if the references to Deacon, Petrilli and Cronin holds, this should be done in an interdisciplinary way that tests, transgresses and transforms scholarly boundaries.

It is for this reason that we call for papers for a conference in which we hope to draw together biosemioticians, semioticians and translation studies scholars to discuss the interdisciplinary relations between these fields and the implications of these relations for the study of social and cultural reality as emerging from both matter and mind. We invite colleagues to submit either theoretical or data-driven or mixed proposals, reflecting on the complexity of social-cultural emergence as a translation process. Some of the topics that colleagues could consider would be the following:

  • Is translation, as semiotic work and process, indeed able to link all of the biological world, including humans, with the non-living world in one ecology, and if so how?
  • What conceptual constructs in each of the three fields are relevant for the other fields, and how?
  • Could the fields learn methodological and epistemological lessons from one another? If so, what would these entail?
  • Could collaborative scholarship enhance an understanding of social-cultural emergence, and if so, what would this scholarship entail?
  • How, if at all, does entropy and negentropy play out differently in social-cultural systems compared to biological and/or physical systems?
  • How does social-cultural emergence differ from biological and even physical emergence? Systems thinking tends to ignore differences like the intentionality of biological agents in contrast to physical agents. Thus, if one were to consider the possibility that intention has causal effect, how does one factor intention into thinking about complex adaptive systems?

We plan an interactive conference. Firstly, we invited three keynote speakers, one from each of the fields involved, to give their views on the relationships between these three fields. Secondly, apart from the normal responses to papers, we would like to end each day of the conference with a session (about one hour) in which the keynote speakers reflect, round-table style, on the papers of the day and in which participants have the opportunity to engage them and one another in open debate style.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Biosemiotics – Terrence Deacon (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Semiotics – Frederik Stjernfelt (Aalborg University, Copenhagen)
  • Translation studies – Michael Cronin (Trinity College Dublin)

Conference date:

  • 26-28 August 2021


  • KU Leuven, Belgium


  • Submission of abstracts – 1 December 2020
  • Notification of acceptance – 1 February 2021
  • Registration opens – 1 March 2021
  • Registration closes – 15 July 2021

Please e-mail enquiries and abstracts of around 300 words to one of the following addresses:


Cronin, M., 2017. Eco-translation: Translation and ecology in the age of the anthropocene. New York: Routledge.

Deacon, T. W., 2013. Incomplete nature: How mind emerged from matter. New York: WW Norman & Company.

Hoffmeyer, J., 2008. Biosemiotics: An examination into the signs of life and the life of signs. London: University of Scranton Press.

Kauffman, S., 2012. From physics to semiotics. In: S. Rattasepp & T. Bennet, eds. Biosemiotic gatherings. Tartu: University of Tartu Press, pp. 30-46.

Kress, G., 2013. Multimodal discourse analysis. In: J. P. Gee & M. Handford, eds. The Routledge handbook of discourse analysis. New York: Routledge, pp. 35-50.

Latour, B., 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marais, K., 2019. A (bio)semiotic theory of translation: The emergence of social-cultural reality. New York: Routledge.

Petrilli, S., ed., 2003. Translation Translation. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

See also this web page.

The Martha Cheung Award for Best English Article in Translation Studies by an Early Career Scholar

Call for Applications

The SISU Baker Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, Shanghai International Studies University, is pleased to announce that the Martha Cheung Award for Best English Article in Translation Studies by an Early Career Scholar is now accepting applications for the 2020/21 round.

The Award is established in honour of the late Professor Martha Cheung (1953-2013), formerly Chair Professor of Translation at Hong Kong Baptist University. It aims to recognize research excellence in the output of early career researchers, and since its establishment in 2018, has attracted a substantial number of high quality applications that have positioned it as one of the top awards in the field.

The Award

The award is conferred annually for the best paper published in English in the previous two-year period, and takes the form of a cash prize of 10,000 RMB (equivalent to around 1,400 USD). A certificate from the SISU Baker Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies is also be presented. The work of the award winner and any runners-up is publicized widely by the Centre and featured on the website (see


Application closing date for the 2021 Award: 31 October 2020

Announcement of award winner: 31 March 2021

Eligibility and Submission Criteria

Applicants must have completed their PhD during the five-year period preceding the deadline for submission of applications or be currently registered for a PhD, and their article must be single-authored. The article must have been published between 30 September 2018 and 30 September 2020.

For further details of the Award, including the full set of eligibility and submission criteria, please visit the Award website.

POSTPONED: Conference on Retranslation the Bible and the Qur’an

We deeply regret to inform you that as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the international conference Retranslating the Bible and the Qur’an. Tensions between Authoritative Translations and Retranslations in Theory and in Practice cannot take place on 23-25 March 2020, as we had planned.
However, we are planning to postpone it with one year, until 22-24 March 2021. More information will follow in due time. Many thanks for your understanding.


PhD thesis ‘Perception of media interpreting quality’ defended by CETRA alumna Lucille Chevalier

We’re happy to announce that Lucille Chevalier, alumna of our CETRA Research Summer School in Translation Studies, was awarded a doctoral degree in Translation Studies at Université Sorbonne – Paris 3, with the PhD thesis Perception de la qualité de l’interprétation dans les médias (Perception of media interpreting quality), under the supervision of our Summer School teaching staff member Daniel Gile. The public defence took place on 19 September 2019.

Here’s the abstract in English and in French:

Abstract ‘Perception of media interpreting quality’

62 non-interpreter participants and 7 interpreter participants listened to 16 different extracts of interpretations that had been initially broadcast either on TV or on the web. The participants commented and rated these recordings. Non-interpreters’ comments tend to show that the interpretation “works”, i.e. it seems to carry the speaker’s message across and does not constitute an obstacle. Comments tend to focus on form rather than content. Non-interpreters seem to pay attention to quality parameters which already feature in the literature (in particular intonation and fluidity) but also to some (supra)parameters which have rarely been studied so far: the balance between the sound levels of the original speech and its interpretation; the way the speaker is portrayed through the interpretation; and the way emotion in the source speech is conveyed in the interpretation. None of the individual parameters identified in the present study turned out to have a clear-cut, major influence on overall quality assessment. The present thesis studies not only individual quality parameters but also interactions between them. In particular, perceptions of form and content seem to be closely linked, and listeners’ trust seems to be determined by a number of both form- and content-related parameters. Some differences between the two groups of participants emerge. Interpreters seem more sensitive to wording. False errors were flagged up only by non-interpreters. Non-interpreters seem to listen to the speaker’s message first and foremost; their reactions to the interpretation itself tend to come later, if at all.

Résumé ‘Perception de la qualité de l’interprétation dans les médias’

16 extraits d’interprétations télévisées et webstreamées ont été écoutés, commentés et évalués par un panel de 62 non-interprètes et 7 interprètes. Les réactions des non-interprètes donnent à penser que l’interprétation fonctionne en ce sens qu’elle semble plus ou moins transparente pour eux et ne fait pas écran à la réception du discours de l’orateur·trice. Les commentaires portent sur la forme de l’interprétation plus que sur le contenu. Il apparaît que les non-interprètes (PNI) prêtent attention à certains paramètres déjà étudiés dans la littérature (notamment intonation et fluidité) mais également à certains (méta)paramètres jusqu’ici peu explorés (équilibre des volumes sonores ; image de l’orateur·trice telle que transmise par l’interprétation ; transmission de la charge émotionnelle de l’original). Aucun paramètre ne ressort comme décisif pour l’évaluation globale de la qualité. Les paramètres de qualité ne sont pas abordés seulement isolément ; ils interagissent, et notamment, la perception de la forme et celle du fond semble étroitement liées, et la confiance de l’auditeur semble déterminée par plusieurs facteurs relatifs à la forme et au contenu. Des différences apparaissent entre interprètes et non-interprètes : les interprètes semblent plus sensibles à la forme textuelle ; seuls les non-interprètes ont signalé de fausses erreurs ; les non interprètes semblent écouter en priorité le message, et lorsqu’illes réagissent à l’interprétation per se, ce n’est souvent que dans un deuxième temps.

The full text of the PhD thesis can be made available upon simple request to the author.

The CETRA Winter Lecture (3/3/20) is coming: “Translation and the End of Travel” by Michael Cronin


The future of travel is central to contemporary debates about ‘flight shaming’. In the context of well-publicised evidence pointing to the often prohibitive ecological costs of mass air travel, the nature and status of travel as an absolute right or unquestionable good are being called into question. The lecture will argue that particular paradigms of travel may help us to think through appropriate forms of travel practice and pedagogy in the age of the Anthropocene.

Please read the below advertisement for all the practical details. poster