Conferences and Symposia

Since its inception in 2001, the Nida Institute has sought to actively collaborate with other researchers and institutions around the world to critically explore vital and timely questions relating to the theory and practice of translation in all its forms. International conferences and symposia are key components of this research initiative, because creating opportunities for scholars from varied disciplines to come together to exchange and test their ideas is essential to discovering how best to improve translation practice for the future. In order to continue the discussion and exploration of ideas beyond the gatherings themselves, the Nida Institute works with publishers to make available the best papers in conference proceedings volumes. In addition, the Institute has established a virtual learning community known as MAP, where a free exchange of dialogue and electronic resources can further take place.  

Research Symposia 

Each fall since 2011, the Nida School of Translation Studies has convened a high-level research symposium in New York City, seeking to bring into dialogue varied perspectives on an established theme. At each gathering, two preeminent authorities in the field present their research and observations. Two equally distinguished scholars are invited to respond.

2015 – “Untranslatability and Cultural Complexity.“ Lydia Liu and Michael Woods, presenters; Mary Louise Pratt and Philip Lewis, respondents. 

2014 – “World Literature, National Markets” and “Translating Biblical Poetry.” David Damrosch and Robert Alter, presenters; Lydia Liu and Adriane Leveen, respondents.

2013 – “Cultural Translation.” Robert Young and Bella Brodzki, presenters; Christi Merrill and Suzanne Jill Levine, respondents.

2012 – “Translation, History, and Methodology.” Lawrence Venuti and Anne Coldiron, presenters; Michael Forster and Mary Helen McMurran, respondents.

2011 – “Localized Translation in a Globalized World.” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Anthony Pym, presenters; Edwin Gentzler and Sandra Bermann, respondents. 

International Conferences

Translation and Cognition / Murcia, 2010
This conference held in southern Spain explored the relationship between translation and cognition. The theme, which occupies a dominant place in the fields of translation studies, linguistics, psychology, and cognitive studies, is also central to research on the relationship between mind, language, and communication. Conference papers explored the role that cognition plays in the formation of meaning and culture and in constructing models of the human mind. 

Translation, Identity, and Heterogeneity / Lima, 2007
This conference took place at San Marcos University in Lima, Peru, engaging the theme of Translation, Identity, and Heterogeneity. Through the papers presented, delegates joined an ongoing conversation of increasing importance, recognizing that language, communication, and translation have all found new frames of reference in a postmodern world characterized by migration, globalization, and localization. The conference explored many aspects of this theme, including translation and minority languages, translation and the emergence of new languages (creoles, pidgins, street languages), and translation and boundaries.

Translation and the Machine / Rome, 2004
The papers presented at this conference, held at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, reflected a persistent effort to think critically about the intersection of translation and technology. From stones to papyrus, from quills to typewriters, from hand-written journals to bound copy, from room-sized mainframes to flash drives, from cassettes and DVDs to iPhones and the internet – the machine’s footprint on translation is growing. What constitutes technology? To what extent is technology a benefit or a hindrance to translation? What is the nature of the machine’s relationship to both translation and the translator”? How does translation, as both a product and a practice, change through its interface with the machine? These and other provocative questions were addressed by preeminent scholars on the cutting edge of the field. 

Select papers from this conference were edited by Steve Berneking and Scott Elliot and published in 2009 by Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura in Rome.

Similarity and Difference in Translation / New York City, 2001
The overall focus of the Nida Institute’s first conference was an exploration of the reality that translation lives within a grand paradox. This paradox requires that translators work simultaneously and consciously with both similarity and difference, whether they are transferring meaning across the boundaries of a single word, a complete sentence, a total discourse, a full-fledged genre, or an entire culture. Inescapably, it seems, the translator’s work succeeds both because of and in spite of this paradox. On the one hand, some critics have judged the translation profession as too focused on difference, deriding it as a guild of ‘faithful traitors’. Other critics, by contrast, have lauded translators for constructing similarities that shape and mediate culture, delivering it like mail across the boundaries of time and space, to paraphrase Pushkin. 

The proceedings of this conference appeared in a volume under the same name, edited by Stefano Arduini and Robert Hodgson and published by Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura in Rome.