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ANR funded project

Programme franco-allemand en SHS (FRAL) 2011

National spaces in a transcultural prospect. Translation process, figures of mediation and social and cultural effects of literary transfers in Europe (France, german and spanish speaking countries).

The project "National spaces in a transcultural prospect" is linked to the problematic of cultural circulations from the Enlightenment to the Belle époque. Its intentions are to combine the prospects of cultural transfers with the methods of social and political history of culture such as quantitative approach, network analysis, prosopography and cultural cartography of Europe. We would try to understand what are the modalities of development of a literary transnational culture in Europe, thanks to a cross analysis of translations in the domains of literature and theatre in the Francophone and German-speaking areas without forgetting their relations with Anglophone and Spanish-speaking areas. The use of the epithet “transcultural” in the title of this project lays the stress on our methodological and theoretical prospects: the analysis of what is circulating, what is linked and establishes systemic relations is the best way to understand, symmetrically, what is stopped at the cultural border, what is hindered or censored by moral and political instances, what is shared and what is not common among European literary productions of that age.
The project of the two teams aims at three complementary objectives:
1) To compare in a systematic way the cultural exchanges of French-speaking and German-speaking areas with the other Western Europe linguistic areas. We will study the main vectors of translation (books, periodicals, critical assessments) in the domains of literature, theatre and cultural reviews.
2) To determine the importance of exchanges, their fluctuations during the two centuries in the European societies, to define the social background of the mediators (translators of both sex, publishers, editors, theatre managers, critics, scholars, librarians, and so on).
3) In order to present a global and systematic view, without the lacunae of current bibliography on the theme, the two teams would couple an extensive (quantitative treatment of bibliographies, catalogues, repertories, indices of reviews) and an intensive approach (case studies on specific genres, particular types of books or authors, specific groups of authors or mediators and translators).
The two first axes of the research will measure the translation phenomenon and the importance of their reception from the mid eighteenth-century to the first decades of twentieth century. Bibliographical corpuses, periodical corpuses and encyclopaedias will be the main sources. It will be completed by case studies of the main mediators and a prosopographical enquiry of the different groups involved in the process of circulation.
As concerns theatre, third field of the research, the corpus will be borrowed from the programs of a sample of the main theatres in different representative towns.
To complete these three themes, the German team will analyse the composition of a sample of private libraries catalogues, to get access to the reception of foreign texts by learned circles. the sample will be based on 150 catalogues of private libraries of noble and bourgeois families between 1760 and 1910.
The final results of these different complementary researches of the two French and German teams would be, hopefully:
1. To establish a cultural cartography of circulations of cultural products as well as a sociography of cultural mediators (translators, reviewers, publishers) based on quantitative data and situated case studies to lay the foundations of a transcultural history of Europe, in the age both of national affirmation and growing globalization (1750-1900).
2. To propose to the international community of scholars interested in these questions accessible and cumulative data bases, synthetic views of the main results and specific comparisons of the particular inquiries in order to lead towards a general model of translation processes and reception of foreign texts, for periods, mainly explored till now through exceptional and non representative case studies.



Philipps-Universität Marburg Institut für Neuere deutsche Literatur

Saarland Universität Saarland Universität

ANR grant: 244 979 euros
Beginning and duration: février 2012 - 36 mois


ANR Programme: Programme franco-allemand en SHS (FRAL) 2011

Project ID: ANR-11-FRAL-0017

Project coordinator:


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.