Panel 3.1: 18th-21st Century Symbols

This panel was chaired by Ellie Cosgrave and included papers from Silvia Silleresi, Stacey Astill, and Francesca Kaminski, the abstracts, powerpoints, handouts, and audio for which are shown below.

Silvia Silleresi, The University of Siena

Title: The Translation of Metaphors in Collodi’s Masterpiece Le Avventure di Pinocchio.

Metaphor is recognized as being a pervasive phenomenon in everyday language use. The cognitive approach, in particular, emphasizes the role of this figure of speech demonstrating how metaphorical language is just the surface realization of a deeper conceptual structure (LAKOFF –JOHNSON 1980). In view of its importance and frequency metaphor indubitably constitutes a pivotal issue also in translation studies. The present paper is an attempt to explore some implications of the cognitive approach to metaphors in translation theory and practice. In the wake of Nili Mandelblit’s study (1995), translation will be examined as a process which involves not only a transfer from one language to another but also a transfer from one way of conceptualizing the world into a new one. The essay discusses the correlation of the metaphorical mapping system used between the source and the target language in a specific case study: the translation of some figurative expressions in seven different versions of “Le Avventure di Pinocchio“, written by Carlo Collodi. The aim is to present the effect that translation has on the metaphorical expressions of the source text itself and on the addressees’ reception: the first five adaptations analysed will be French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and English. Then we will grant a particular focus to subsequent discursive development in two “heterodox languages”: on the one hand Latin, a classical language with an ancient tradition and a millenarian culture, which tries to fill the inevitable gap with the Italian culture of the Nineteenth Century and on the other hand Esperanto, the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language, which is characterized by a short life and consequently a quite emergent cultural tradition, a developing lexicon and an increasing range of public. The resulting corpus annotated for interconceptual mappings tries to provide another dataset for linguistic and cognitive experiments on the general issue of metaphor’s translation.



Sadly, due to technical difficulties, the audio for Silvia’s paper was lost.

Stacey Astill, The University of Liverpool

Title: Symbolism in European POW Camps during the Second World War.

This paper focuses on symbolism in material culture within prisoner of war (POW) camps in the European Theatre during the Second World War. In order to explore this it will discuss the different objects created and curated within the camps, their role as physical symbols, the symbols placed in or on them and their wider symbolic nature.

POW memoir literature speaks extensively of objects being created within camps. Necessity, boredom and homesickness were all reasons for prisoners to produce blower stoves, plays and paintings, however these objects – although already symbols of resilience, inventiveness and identity – could be decorated with further physical symbols, such as carvings, signatures or other personal representations.

Camp diaries were provided to most prisoners through the Red Cross, and surviving copies are often filled with pictorial symbols, both from camp life – such as camp or bunk coats of arms, and life before capture – such as RAF wings and national symbols. Prisoners were often in a situation in which their identity was unclear, they may have felt that they were still soldiers fighting from within the camp, whereas others perceived them as ‘holidaying’ in captivity; despite assurances to the contrary in the Geneva convention regiments were often split apart in prison, and two RAF POWs write extensively in their diaries about the guilt of being the singular surviving members of their crews. This displacement appeared to intensify some of the prisoners’ need for symbolism either for claiming identity or in memoriam.

The paper will draw on oral testimony from interviews with ex-POWs as well as memoir literature, photographs of camp life, objects from camp and various contemporary newspaper articles to assert that there was a rich symbolism within prison camps which largely revolved around representations of home life, self-representation and national identity.


Audio –

Francesca Kaminski, Royal Holloway, The University of London

Title: Human Nature: Men Transformed and Nature Personified in the Similes of Homer and Alice Oswald.

Alice Oswald’s self-described “Excavation” of the Iliad in her poem Memorial (2011) is crucial to any discussion on the modern reception of Homeric similes. In discarding the epic’s narrative, leaving a text almost entirely ‘made of similes’, the poet advocates the self-sufficiency, vitality, and significance of Homer’s imagery. Oswald’s treatment of the similes ranges from strict translation to what she calls ‘a translucence’, or retrieval of ‘whatever it is that shines through’ the Iliad, demonstrating the variety of practices encompassed by reception. This provides a unique opportunity for the scholar interested in the reception of images and similes to track the movement from ancient source to modern, received form.

This paper will examine the simile in Homer and Oswald not merely as a descriptive ornament, but as a transformative device impacting on the fundamental identity of its tenors and vehicles. Analysis of the poets’ similes – side-by-side and separately – will reveal a common awareness of this function, although each employs it in a distinct, and sometimes opposing, manner.

Both Homer and Oswald are poets concerned with the nature of humanity, and inspired by the non-human nature of the surrounding world. Their similes constitute a whole host of passages in which men are compared intricately to inhuman vehicles, and in which the world of nature is set up alongside, inextricably linked to, and jarringly contrasted with, the world of men. These features are therefore essential to the ancient and the modern poets’ discussion of humanity and nature, and enable both to imagine a fluid inter-relationship between the two. However, whilst Homer’s similes engage in the question of whether war reduces man to an inhuman beast, Oswald’s similes imprint the natural world with the trappings of humanity.

Francesca requested that details of her paper not be included on the blog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s