We had a fantastically exciting and productive meeting on 14-15 June 2012.
Over the course of two days, symposium participants developed and deepened understanding of the flow of people and discourses in and around the modern world. The focus on translation provided fresh insights into familiar materials while drawing out connections between them that had remained hidden hitherto. For instance, it became clear that many of the major figures in the histories of sexology and sexuality developed their thinking literally by translating each others’ work. Similarly, we learned to pay attention to the fact that the modern sexual vocabulary is itself a product of different processes of translation, which reveal something of the ways in which assumptions about gender and sexuality are embedded into the cultural unconscious.
What emerged was a new picture of the transnational connectedness of modern debates about gender and sexuality, as well as a deeper understanding of particular issues that shaped debates in Wales, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, the U.S., China, Japan, Egypt and Palestine. Translation and the intersections between science and literature in this context provide more than a metaphoric currency for conceptualizing the relationship between expert and popular discourses: they make visible networks of exchange between different disciplines and countries, as well as offering glimpses at the lives of some of the women and men whose fantasies and intimate desires shaped the way in which we talk about ‘sex’ today.
Watch this space for announcements about follow-up publications!