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Traductions (du) Queer/ Translating Queer(ly)

A One-Day Workshop, Saturday 28 September 2013

King’s College London

La théorie queer is in itself an expression curiously suspended between two languages and understandable, perhaps, in both. Yet a long, and often belated, work of translation has been necessary for the cross-fertilisation of French intellectual life by imports from the US and the UK, and vice versa. This workshop sets out to investigate this labour of translation in the context of both the importation of queer theory into France and the exportation of French ideas and texts in order for them to become ‘queer theory’ in the English-speaking context. Translation here is understood to be not only literally as the movement across different languages but also contextually as the movements necessary for the differences (intellectual, political, institutional) that language carries with it to be themselves exported and imported. This ‘trade’ in and through language has been concurrent and yet untimely, literal as well as metaphorical, ‘fair’ but perhaps also oddly imbalanced – queer.

This intimate workshop brings together a group of young academics working at the crossroads between a ‘national’ discipline (French Studies) and the expansive – perhaps already globalised – interdisciplinary spread of Queer Studies. It seeks both to focus on the cultural and political implications of translation, with presentations on Foucault’s fate in English as well as on the French influences on the ‘first wave’ of UK-based gay/queer critique; and to hone in on the present-day situation in France, where the centripetal forces of homonationalism challenge the leveling tendency of globalised queer culture. The keynote speaker is Maxime Cervulle, a translator of canonical queer works into French who has also sought to address, in collaborative work with Nick Rees-Roberts, who will be his respondent in the workshop, the recalcitrant frictions between sexual, racial and national identity formations that the cutting edge of queer research into intersectionality brings to the fore. The workshop cuts across the conceptual, textual, and even cinematic interfaces where queer translation operates and seeks to trouble knee-jerk assumptions of cultural difference at the same time as critiquing the hegemony of an emergent queer globalisation.


Maxime Cervulle (Paris VIII)

Hector Kollias (KCL)

Nick Rees-Roberts (Bristol)


History Seminar Room (S8.08)

Strand Campus, King’s College London (Entrance on the Strand)

Please note that the workshop’s relatively intimate setting necessitates a cap in the numbers of attendees and that presentations will be both in English and in French. Expressions of interest should be communicated by email to


10.15 Welcome and Opening Remarks (Hector Kollias)

10.30 James Agar (University College, London): ‘Foucault in English: the Invisible Queen’

11.30 Coffee

12.00 Hector Kollias (King’s College London): ‘Sexual Dissidence in the English Riviera’

1.00 Lunch

2.30 Keynote address: Maxime Cervulle (Centre d'études sur les médias, les technologies et l'internationalisation [CEMTI] – Université Paris VIII):

‘Le traducteur récalcitrant’

followed by a response by Nick Rees-Roberts (Bristol)

4.30 Close - drinks