CONGRESS CANCELED Lost in Translation: Women and Beowulf (A Roundtable)

Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University

Description

The significance of Beowulf’s female characters has largely been overlooked by scholars (the vast majority of whom are white men) in favor of focusing on the text as a site of male agency, action, and interests. Most urgently, this tradition risks corroborating and replicating narratives produced by the alt-right, who falsely ground the text in white supremacy and misogyny. Further complicating matters, many modern translations, Seamus Heaney’s included, misrepresent and/or erase female characters who are integral not only to the epic’s plot but also to critical analysis of the narrative. The goal of this roundtable is to interrogate how such translations manipulate our understanding of women in Beowulf and/or the text of Beowulf in a larger sense. This session encourages discussion regarding how the original text is manipulated by translators to the detriment of female characters and, in effect, modern audiences. It is intended to foster scholarly interest and discourse about women’s presence and agency in the text, as well as medieval society, in an effort to rectify the gendered disparity of Beowulf scholarship and actively admonish claims to the text by alt-right groups. The session is poised to consider the implications of female characters’ negation and erasure with regard to both women’s representation and our understanding of the text holistically in the hope of generating nuanced interpretations of and approaches to women in/and Beowulf.

Signed, Emily McLemore

 
May 8th, 10:00 AM

CONGRESS CANCELED Lost in Translation: Women and Beowulf (A Roundtable)

Schneider 1360

The significance of Beowulf’s female characters has largely been overlooked by scholars (the vast majority of whom are white men) in favor of focusing on the text as a site of male agency, action, and interests. Most urgently, this tradition risks corroborating and replicating narratives produced by the alt-right, who falsely ground the text in white supremacy and misogyny. Further complicating matters, many modern translations, Seamus Heaney’s included, misrepresent and/or erase female characters who are integral not only to the epic’s plot but also to critical analysis of the narrative. The goal of this roundtable is to interrogate how such translations manipulate our understanding of women in Beowulf and/or the text of Beowulf in a larger sense. This session encourages discussion regarding how the original text is manipulated by translators to the detriment of female characters and, in effect, modern audiences. It is intended to foster scholarly interest and discourse about women’s presence and agency in the text, as well as medieval society, in an effort to rectify the gendered disparity of Beowulf scholarship and actively admonish claims to the text by alt-right groups. The session is poised to consider the implications of female characters’ negation and erasure with regard to both women’s representation and our understanding of the text holistically in the hope of generating nuanced interpretations of and approaches to women in/and Beowulf.

Signed, Emily McLemore