8 October - 9 October 2015


Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Florence


Hans Christian Hönes
Wiss. Mitarbeiter
Phone:+44 20 7862 8755

The Warburg Institute, London

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Wolf
Gerhard Wolf
Managing Director
Phone: +39 055 24911-49
Fax: +39 055 24911-66

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Migrating Histories of Art: Self-translations of a Discipline

Annual Workshop of the International Research Group Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology

organized by Maria Teresa Costa and Hans Christian Hönes


The workshop situates itself at the crossroads of art history and translation studies, exploring, for the first time, the problem of self-translation in the realm of art writing. On one hand it seeks to provide a theoretical framework from Translation Studies, on the other hand it aims to offer case-studies from Art History and related fields, providing a unique and comprehensive overview on how a discipline defines itself through cultural transfers.

The workshop addresses these decisive migrations and considers how the adoption and processing of foreign-language texts and their corresponding methodologies have been fundamental to the disciplinary discourse of Art History, since the earliest days of its professionalization. The objects of investigation are both translations of texts by art historians who themselves migrated to other Sprachraums, changing their working language, and also the implication of this transfer for subsequent writings in the mother tongue.

In addition, the self-translations by art historians will be contextualised and juxtaposed against examples from other fields. This will lead to a case-based discussion of the theoretical and practical consequences of the understudied phenomenon of scholarly self-translation, especially with regard to the possibilities and limitations of the dissemination of art-historical methodologies (and therefore of the discipline itself). Consequently, the study of self-translations also addresses the problem of (un-)translatability of concepts and ideas.

The topics considered include:

  • Self-translation as a theoretical phenomenon;
  • Case studies on self-translation from art history and related disciplines;
  • Reports and reminiscences of personal experiences with self-translations and self-translators.

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