Lecture: "The Archival Turn and Network approach: Examining evolving translation practices and discourses in the British publishing firm complex, 1950s-1980s"by Daniela La Penna (Reading)


Location: Rare Books and Special Collections 102 Hesburgh Library (View on map )

The Center for Italian Studies is pleased to host a lecture by Professor Daniela La Penna (University of Reading, UK) titled:

The Archival Turn and Network approach: Examining evolving translation practices and discourses in the British publishing firm complex, 1950s-1980s


In this lecture, Professor La Penna adopts a micro-historical approach to bring to light the cultural, economic, and social dynamics surrounding the English translation of Italian titles in the Anglo-American book market after the Second World War. La Penna examines a series of case studies, emerging from the Archives of British Publishers and Printing held at the University of Reading and pertaining to Jonathan Cape, Hogarth Press, Chatto & Windus, and Allen & Unwin. By evaluating the archival evidence surrounding these ‘translation events’, La Penna not only reconstructs the transatlantic alliances that the British firms tried to forge with American publishing houses between 1950s and 1980s to spread around the translation costs and ensure greater geographical diffusion for the translated titles, but also illuminates the intercontinental professional and semi-professional networks supporting these endeavours. La Penna's study contextualises the translators’ articulations of how best to interpret in English the style of the chosen Italian authors. The analysis of the business and aesthetic discourses surrounding these translation events also takes into account the publishing firms' evolving discourse on translation and the professionalisation of the translator's trade in the period under scrutiny. La Penna will also provide a comparative angle discussing for each firm taken into account - Jonathan Cape, Hogarth Press, Allen & Unwin, and Chatto & Windus - how Italian authors and their works were approached vis-a-vis other foreign authors in the firms' lists.

Daniela La Penna is Professor of Modern Italian Cultures at the University of Reading and senior co-editor of the journal The Italianist (2016-2022). Her work has focussed on multilingual literary production, with her publications exploring the work of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Amelia Rosselli, Luigi Meneghello, Anna Maria Ortese, and Vincenzo Consolo. She is the author of ‘La promessa d’un semplice linguaggio’: Lingua e stile nella poesia di Amelia Rosselli (Carocci, 2013), the editor of Meneghello: Fiction, Scholarship, Passione civile (The Italianist, 2012) and of Meneghello’s La materia di Reading e altri reperti (BUR, 2022). With Daniela Caselli, she has co-edited Twentieth-century Poetic Translations: Literary Cultures in English and in Italian (Continuum, 2008). Prof. La Penna was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and a British Academy Visiting Fellowship, and was Principal Investigator of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project ‘Mapping Literary Space: Literary Journals, Publishing Firms and Intellectuals in Italy, 1940-1960’ (2012-2015). As part of this project, and together with Francesca Billiani (Manchester) and Mila Milani (Warwick), she has co-edited three special issues of the journals Journal of Modern Italian Studies (2016), Modern Italy (2016), and Italian Studies (2018). Since 2019, she is leading a project mapping translation in the archive of British Publishers and Printing at the University of Reading. As part of this project, she has co-edited two special issues of, respectively, Letteratura e Letterature (2020) and The Italianist (2022) with Sara Sullam (Milano, Statale).

The Italian Research Seminar, a core event of the Center for Italian Studies, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian literature, language, and culture, as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame's Center for Italian Studies to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for scholarly exchange.

Originally published at italianstudies.nd.edu.