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Professor Robert Dixon, from the University of Sydney, is conducting a survey about Australian literature in translation, as part of a project called Australian Literature in the Translation Zone. If you are a translator of Australian literature, you can participate by downloading this questionnaire, filling it in and sending it back to him at robert.dixon@sydney.edu.au.

Here is a brief introduction to the project:

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone Survey

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone is project funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted by Professor Robert Dixon, Professor of Australian literature at the University of Sydney, on the translation of Australian literature.

Australian literature is now recognised as part of the larger field of world literature. Central to this expanded field is the role of the translator, so often rendered ‘invisible’, as Lawrence Venuti has observed. Australian writers and Australian literature belong to what Emily Apter calls ‘the translation zone’, which she describes as ‘a broad intellectual topography’ in and between national literatures.

Apter’s ‘translation zone’ is of course a spatial metaphor. But to understand how that space operates we need to populate it with data about the cultural economy of translation. Is there, for example, a single translation zone, or are there as many translation zones beyond Australian literature as there are languages and translators? Beyond English, does the reputation of an Australian book or writer spread from one foreign language to another, or are they siloed, communicating back through the English language and Australia? Is the impact of successive translations cumulative throughout a writer’s oeuvre, or is each translation a new beginning for the translator? How important are paratextual phenomena and events, such as writers’ festivals? How important is the agency of the author and translator in relation to other personnel, including authors’ and publishers’ agents, publishers, editors, and publishers’ scouts, in commissioning translations? Increasingly, it seems that overseas rights and translation contracts are initiated by publishers and their scouts at events such as the Frankfurt and London trade fairs. Are these commercial arrangements similar throughout the world or do they vary from one culture to another? As if confirming Venuti’s claim for the translator’s ‘invisibility’, there is to date no systematic, empirically-informed account of this ‘translation’ zone in Australian literary scholarship. This project aims to answer some of these research questions by populating the metaphor of the ‘translation zone’ with real data.

You can help in compiling this data about Australian literature in translation by completing the enclosed survey.

Professor Robert Dixon FAHA

Professor of Australian Literature

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