About this Event
900 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045
Two Alien Forests: Translating Gender and SFF between Two Cold War Superpowers
R.B. Perelmutter (Professor, Jewish Studies; Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies)
At the height of the New Cold War in 1980, two important works of science fiction were translated, one from Russian to English, and the other from English to Russian: The Snail on the Slope by the Strugatsky brothers, and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin. In both works, multiple models of gender are presented and both texts critique their respective countries’ policies. This talk will examine how gendered concepts informed Cold War-era speculative storytelling about colonization and hegemony, and how these themes were (mis)translated and reframed when they crossed the language barrier between the two superpowers. Perelmutter will discuss how the technical work of translators influenced the representation of gender in both novels – through inadvertent mistranslations and systemic altering of the texts – in order to appeal to the target audience and align with the market and censorship pressures. These issues highlight translation as an intensely political, complex, and fallible process.