Sarah Harriet Burney (1772–1844), author and translator, a talk presented by Dr Gillian Dow (University of Southampton), followed by a response provided by Prof. Michael Cronin (Trinity College, Dublin). The event will be hosted online by the Institute of English Studies, on Wednesday 25 November, 3-4pm.

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The one-hour symposium is envisaged to be the first of a series of events on “Women Translators and Authorship” and will serve two functions. First, the event aims to shine a light on the careers and lives of women who have been engaged in translation throughout history, thereby addressing gaps in research concerning a largely neglected area of female authorship. Second, the aim is to generate interdisciplinary synergies between translation studies and book history by focusing, though not exclusively, on questions of authorship and publishing in translation.

Since feminist translation theory emerged from bilingual Canada in the last decades of the twentieth century, the interlocking of gender and translation in past discursive and literary practices has been examined at length to unveil various and sometimes divergent perspectives. While analogies have been drawn between the devaluing of women and their literary labours on the one hand, and the devaluing of translation as a derivative product on the other (Chamberlain 1992; Venuti 1995; Simon 1996; Smith 2012), discussions on women and translation in historical contexts yet also point to the critical and empowering potentials of translation for women, as a tool of political or feminist activism, as well as in terms of literary expression and publishing opportunities (Hardwick 2000; von Flotow 2011; Milan 2018).

The paucity of biographical and critical material about past translators in general, and female translators more specifically, and the corresponding work of recovery and discovery in which a number of scholars have engaged over the last decades, will be aptly illustrated by Dr Gillian Dow’s presentation on Sarah Harriet Burney (1772–1844), including her relationships with her London-based publishers and her role as a translator. The relative invisibility of Sarah Burney as a translator occurs in manifold ways. She is primarily remembered as a novelist and very little attention has been paid to her translations. Additionally, she is much lesser known than her more famous sister novelist, Frances (Fanny) Burney. Our invited respondent this time will be Professor Michael Cronin, world-renowned scholar in translation studies and in many other fields of learning. Convened by the Institute of English Studies, the event offers an opportunity to highlight and explore the interdisciplinary strands of scholarship on women’s writing and of scholarship on translation.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 793736.


Dr Michelle Milan, Marie Curie Fellow, Institute of English Studies.


Dr Gillian Dow

Dr Gillian Dow is an Associate Professor in English at the University of Southampton.

Her research interests are in women’s writing, translation and reception history, including the reception of French literature in Britain and the cross-channel migration of ideas in the period 1780-1830. She has researched and published widely on British and French women writers in the Romantic period, notably Jane Austen and Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis, and was the editor of an important volume for the study of women translators, Translators, Interpreters, Mediators: Women Writers 1700-1900 (2007). Her current book project links her long-standing research interests, and examines British women writers and translation in the 1750-1830 period. Her current book project links her long-standing research interests, examines British women writers and translation in the 1750-1830 period, and was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, 2019-2020

Professor Michael Cronin

Michael Cronin is 1776 Professor of French (Chair) at Trinity College Dublin, and Director of the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation. He is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy, the Academia Europaea and is an Officer in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques. Prof. Cronin is a world-renowned scholar in translation studies and in many other fields of learning, having published extensively on language, culture, translation and travel writing. Among his works are Translating Ireland: Translation, Languages, Cultures (1996) and Eco-Translation: Translating and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene (2017). His current interests are in developing eco-criticism in relation to modern languages and translation, exploring the notion of ‘translation trauma’ in relation to population displacement and investigating language identities as mediated through travel. Michael Cronin has also taught and written about women translators. In particular, he contributed a chapter on Jane Elgée Wilde to Jean Delisle’s Portraits de Traductrices (2002), the first known published collection of portraits to focus specifically on women translators.