My Library Research Trip in LondonAbout Us

Location: The Library of SOAS, University of London.
Duration of Visit: 1-14 July 2015.

Tzu-yu Lin

My project, entitled "The Invisible Agents of Japanophone Taiwanese Literature", explores the voices of the translators who translated into Chinese Japanophone Taiwanese literary works published before 1945, and discusses how colonial memory has been translated/represented. It combines the fields of Translation Studies and Memory Studies, and investigates how translation affects the way in which a postcolonial society, such as Taiwan, transmits or negotiates colonial cultural memory. This project also explores the power relations in translation to better understand how translators produce new modes of articulation for future generations. This project is significant as it will help to better understand how Japanophone Taiwanese literature has been re-introduced to Postcolonial Taiwan, and will provide a unique scope for analysing how translation mediates colonial memory from one generation to the next.

I chose SOAS for a short visit because it is one of the best resourced East Asian research centres in the UK. Among the journals I discovered there the International Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Asian Studies and the Translator were most relevant to the project. For example, in the article "Translingual World Order: Language without Culture in Post-Russo-Japanese War Japan" published in Journal of Asian Studies, Sho Konishi highlighted the tension between the world language (translation) and the national language, and argued that the popularity of the world language was believed to have influenced the ethnic liberation of the native Taiwanese under the Japanese colonization. Also, in "Jessica Trevitt Speaks to David Damrosch: World Literature and Translation", published in the latest issue of The Translator, Damrosch addressed the relation between the study of world literature and translation. This is inspiring for the discussion of how translation can bring literature to a new readership and infuse a new cultural/literary space. Maggie Ann Bowers's article 'Asia‘s Europes: Anti-colonial Attitudes in the Novels of Ondaatje and Shamsie', introduced the idea of the nation state and citizenship being associated with European ideology. This is very interesting and can be applied to my project to explain the tasks of post-war translation and how it has supported the idea of re-building a decolonised nation-state after World War II.

The Journal of Postcolonial Studies is also very useful, especially the reviews of Mark Quigley‘s Empire's Wake: Postcolonial Irish Writing and the Politics of Modern Literary Form (2013) by Michael Cronin; and David Huddar's Involuntary Associations: Postcolonial Studies and World Englishes (2014) by Christina Hobbs. The reviews introduced how Quigley and Huddar tackled the (re)construction of colonial/postcolonial literary history and the ownership of languages. Ankhi Mukherjee's What is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Cannon, will also be extremely useful according to its review by Garfrik Robert in Journal of Postcolonial Writing.

I found Lawrence Venuti‘s The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995) and Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice (2013) most helpful to my project. Venuti explored in detail the history of translation from the 17th century, while his later work gathered together a collection of essays covering the translator's unconscious, translation ethics and retranslation. In addition, I also found other books useful, such as Evaluation in Translation (2012) as well as Translator as Communicator (1997), which examined the translator's decision making process and the ideology of translation.

There were still some books I found important to my research but which were not available at SOAS, such as Translation and Power (2002), Translation in a Postcolonial Context (1999), Translation and Identity (2006), Literature in Translation (2010). However, I was able to find these books in other libraries of the University of London or in the British Library nearby.

I would recommend other young scholars to apply for a British Library reader's card. I also suggest actively attending conferences, seminars or workshops to meet other researchers and build networks. For example, I took the opportunity to participate in some conferences during my stay in London, such as ARTIS Conference in Multidimensional Methodologies: Collaboration and Networking in Translation Research at UCL, the Second World Congress of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, and New Perspectives in Assessment in Translation Training: Bridging the Gap between Academic and Professional Assessment at Westminster University. These were all very rewarding as I could exchange ideas with those who share similar research interests and obtain valuable feedbacks on my research.

Finally, I acknowledge the European Association of Taiwan Studies in supporting my research visit to the SOAS library. This visit has made a significant contribution to the development of my project and has enriched my thinking about new directions for further research.

Tzu-yu Lin received her PhD in Comparative Literature, the University of Edinburgh, UK recently. She is a winner of the 2015 EATS Library Research Grant.