Versifying/Translating. Praxeologies of Versified Speech
University of Konstanz, April, 5, 2024

The point of departure for this comparatist workshop is the old and supposedly simple question of what distinguishes versified texts in the first place. We would like to pose this question anew from a praxeological dimension, namely by treating versification as a problem of translation. What is the significance of different metrical forms for versification - especially when verse forms themselves can function as vehicles of translation? While verse forms are mobile – they migrate between languages, cultures, and historical periods – the relationship to their respective ‘internal’ forms is far from definite. After all, the adaptation of metrics in translation can basically take place regardless of questions of content. Such processes of translation result in a travelling of formal elements in space and time; frequently, supposedly ‘dead’ metrical forms are perpetuated in these translation and open up new formal and textual scope.

Thinking of versification as translation provides a framework from which to address similarity and difference as well as similarity in difference. Versification becomes a venue for clarifications and disputes about the status of what is proper or foreign to cultures, of original and copy, of source and target language, of borders and transfer, of territory and language community. Conceived as translation, versification demands an appropriate “cultural-historical mapping” (Dusini/Michler 2012). With this in mind, the workshop will contribute to drawing a map of poetic, cultural, social and political interrelationships of versification.