This article is an account of the personal journey of one writer, from her first encounters in the 1970s with fellow scholars sharing an interest in translation and a sense of frustration at the anti-translation prejudices of many colleagues working in literature or linguistics at that time. The article traces the gradual rise of translation studies as an important field in its own right, but raises questions about the present state of the discipline, arguing that as translation studies has become more established, so it is failing to challenge orthodoxies and risks being left behind by the more innovative and exciting research now emerging from within world literature, postcolonialism, and cultural memory studies. I suggest that translation studies has reached a cross-roads and needs to reach out to other disciplines, taking advantage of what is being hailed by some as a translational turn within the humanities in general.
Thirty three years ago a young scholar in possession of a brand-new PhD in comparative literature came to the University of Leuven, to a conference that Edwin Gentzler has since described in his book, Contemporary Translation Theories, as “historic”. Such was the importance which that scholar attached to the Leuven event that she first made a 300 mile round trip to leave her baby with her parents, then set off from London on an epic fifteen hour journey by coach. The cost of a flight was out of the question for a single mother who had only just managed to secure a job in the United Kingdom, and the vagaries of the English Channel (La Manche if we wish to avoid any nationalist undertones) meant unfortunately that there were long delays. But such was the importance of attending that seminar, that the problems of actually getting there seemed merely incidental.
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