Panel 3: Changing Times: From the Past to the Future of Audiovisual Translation (Carol O'Sullivan)

Contributions are invited for a panel at the 2013 EST Congress on the history of audiovisual translation. This is an area which has received limited attention in translation studies. On one level, the importance of historical factors in the development and deployment of audiovisual translation technologies has been widely acknowledged. There has been lively critical interest in, for instance, the brief phase of multilingual film production in Europe and the US. At the same time, there has been surprisingly little research by translation scholars into the early development of audiovisual translation techniques, such as the shift from title cards to superimposed subtitles or early dubbing problems. There has been little diachronic work done on the changing norms of audiovisual translation in specific target languages and cultures over the 85 years since the arrival of sound film. Other issues which have yet to be addressed include the impact of audiovisual translation on the r! eception and canonisation of individual films, and the complex textual problems presented by translation in an editing-based medium.

It must be acknowledged that historical research in AVT presents significant challenges, including the practical, logistical and financial difficulties of accessing film prints and off-air television recordings. AVT research was greatly facilitated by advances in home viewing technologies, particularly with the arrival of DVD. The easy availability and stability of VHS and DVD recordings may also, however, have served to divert critical attention from other important vectors of audiovisual translation, including theatrical exhibition, broadcast, download and pirate distribution. These may pose particular problems for audiovisual translation which justify their study alongside more established modes of home viewing.

This panel has developed out of the recognition that we are living in a time of unparalleled technological innovation in audiovisual media. Historical and textual research may provide us with an improved understanding of the conditions in which film and media circulate internationally, and offer important insights into the impact of technological change on audiovisual translation.

Contributions might relate, but are by no means limited, to the following topics:

  • Audiovisual translation during the transition to sound (intertitles vs. subtitles; early dubbing; multiple-language versions; multilingual scripts)
  • Differentiating platforms (theatrical, VHS, DVD, broadcast)
  • Audiovisual translation and reception
  • Audiovisual translation in the silent period
  • Audiovisual translation futures: downloading, Youtube, 3D…
  • Agents of audiovisual translation (subtitlers, scriptwriters, laboratories, censorship boards, distributors, film societies etc.)
  • Case studies of individual films and their textual/translation history
  • Film translation and textual scholarship
  • Technical challenges to AVT
  • Media piracy and AVT
Interdisciplinary contributions are warmly welcomed.