The CLE London Statement identified the development of knowledge and shared practices “as a key strategic goal for a meaningful impact on European society and beyond it, by supporting individuals and groups in the continuous effort to achieve greater social justice and active forms of citizenship.”

This SIG proposes to review contemporary theory and practice in the field of intersemiotic translation and to develop case studies of contemporary examples. Informed by philosophy, linguistics, poetics and cognitive sciences, we are also interested in whether and how the methodologies of practice as research (PaR), primarily developed in the performing arts, can be applied to the process of intersemiotic translation as cultural production.

The experience of translating a source artefact (whether text, image, sound, sculpture, gesture) through an interactive process that results in embodied, subjectively-formed, meaningful narrative for the participant forms the central object of enquiry.

Questions of definition include the perennial debate over whether intersemiotic translation is truly translation, or rather adaptation, interpretation or even transcreation (an adaptation that aims to convey the meaning or a source text but is not bound to reproduce the form). Specific types of translation that can be considered intersemiotic include ekphrasis (from non-verbal to verbal), homophonic, homographonic or material translation (respectively from verbal to phonetic, graphic, and haptic — conveyed through the sense of touch). Ephemeral, performative forms of intersemiotic translation are of particular interest in understanding process as cultural production because they foster a real-time interactive relationship with the audience where participants become alternately actors and witnesses in the translation process.

Specific lines of academic enquiry to be pursued may include questions of whether and how the experiential nature of projects involving intersemiotic translation can serve as an awareness-raising tool, break down intercultural boundaries and help build empathy between conflicted communities.


Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett has been interested in Intersemiotic Translation since the early years of the 21st century, when she published a series of papers about the semiotics of music and dance. As well as theorizing about the way meaning is generated in these two domains, she also studied the relationship between them in case studies of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as interpreted by Sergei Prokofiev and Rudolf Nureyev, and Oscar Wilde’s Salomé in the opera of Richard Strauss.

Her interest in the subject was rekindled in 2017 following an invitation to participate in a project. This new phase was relaunched in May 2018 with a keynote lecture in Budapest (The intersemiotic denseness of being: towards a new iconicity), in which she argued that translators now need to be systematically trained for a world in which the verbal is no longer privileged and communication takes place using multiple semiotic resources. In October of the same year, she convened a panel on Intersemiotic Translation at the Literature (&), (In)Tangible Heritage conference in Lisbon, which brought together eight scholars from around the world. She is currently editing a special issue of the journal Translation Matters on the subject of Multimodality and Intersemiotic Translation, due out in the autumn of 2020.


‘The language of dance’, Textos Pretextos 11: Coreo-grafias, Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Comparatistas/Livrododio Editors, 2008: 56-67 ‘Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and socialist realism: a case-study in intersemiotic translation’, Shakespeare and European Politics, Dirk Delabastita, Josef de Vos, Paul Franssen (eds), University of Delaware Press, 2008: 318-328 ‘Star-cross’d lovers in the age of AIDS: Rudolf Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet as intersemiotic translation’, Literary Intermediality: The Transit of Literature through the Media Circuit, Maddalena Pennacchia Punzi (ed.), Berne: Peter Lang. 2007: 127-142 ‘Words into movement: the ballet as intersemiotic translation’, Teatro e Tradução: Palcos de Encontro, Maria João Brilhante & Manuela Carvalho (eds) Porto: Campo das Letras. 2007: 125-140 ‘Star-cross’d lovers: Shakespeare and Prokofiev’s “pas-de-deux” in Romeo and Juliet’, Cambridge Quarterly, 32 (4), 2003: 311-347

Conference papers

Keynote Lecture: ‘The intersemiotic denseness of being: towards a new iconicity’, Translation Research – Translator Training, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest. 24-26 May 2018.

‘Premonitions of Doom: Oscar Wilde’s Salome translated into music’. Literature (&), (In)Tangible Heritage. Lisbon, 11-12 October 2018

‘The musical power of Salome’, Music, Discourse, Power. Braga. 17-19 March 2011.

Keynote Lecture: ‘The language of dance’. 9th English Studies Conference on Visual and Performance Culture, Braga, 27 April 2009.

‘Words into movement: the ballet as intersemiotic translation’, ACT 15 (Alterities, Crossings, Transfers), Theatre and Translation, Lisbon. March 2006.

‘Star-cross’d lovers in the age of AIDS: Rudolf Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet as intersemiotic translation’, Shakespeare in Europe: History and Memory, Krakow, November 2005

‘Salome across boundaries: a study in inter-linguistic and inter-semiotic translation’, Rewriting Boundaries, 5th International Conference of AEDEI (Spanish Association for Irish Studies), Tarragona, May 2005

‘Star cross’d lovers in the age of AIDS’: Rudolph Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet as Intersemiotic Translation’, 27th Conference of the Portuguese Association of Anglo-American Studies (APEAA), Braga, Portugal. April 2005.

‘Words into music: Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” as intersemiotic translation’, 7th Conference of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE), Seminar on Intermediality and Literary Practices, Zaragoza, September 2004.

‘Shakespeare and Prokofiev’s “pas-de-deux” in Romeo and Juliet: a case-study in inter-semiotic translation’, 25th Conference of the Portuguese Association of Comparative Literature (APLC), Coimbra, June 2004.

‘Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and socialist realism: a case-study in inter-semiotic translation’, Shakespeare and European Politics, Utrecht, December 2003.

‘Shakespeare and Prokofiev’s “pas-de-deux” in Romeo and Juliet: a case-study in inter-semiotic translation’, 4th Conference of the Spanish Society for the Study of the English Renaissance, Jaen, March 2003

Madeleine Campbell

Madeleine Campbell is a freelance writer, researcher and translator, based in the UK.

Research fields: after completing her PhD at the University of Glasgow, she continues to research translation as an experiential process that involves the reader/spectator as active participant, or ‘spectactor’.

Fields of interest within CLE: intersemiotic translation as process in cultural production.

Gaia Del Negro

PhD in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, currently collaborates with Milano-Bicocca University. Her research interests lie in the relationship to knowing and culture in professional lives. She is expert in auto/biographical, transformative, participative methodologies. Her PhD investigated aesthetic reflective practices with professional groups. She published on Transitional/Translational Spaces: Evocative Objects as Triggers for Self-Negotiation (2018); with A Tuppen-Corps on Transformational Encounter in Digital Arts Practice (2018); with L Formenti and S Luraschi on Relational Aesthetics. A Duoethnographic Research on Feminism (2019).

She has worked in multinational companies, consultancies and non-profit organisations with a focus on adult learning. Currently she is studying gender politics and is training in integrated somatic practices.

Laura Formenti

PhD in Adult Education, Coordinator of a PhD Program “Education in Contemporary Society”, Chair of ESREA, Laura investigates the education and learning of adults from a perspective of complexity, transformation, and critical pedagogy. Her method for teaching, research and intervention is cooperative and compositional, merging experience, presentational and propositional languages, enactment.

Her recent publications in English include “Complexity, adult biographies and co-operative transformation”, in M. Milana & al. (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook on adult and lifelong education and learning; with L West Transforming perspectives in lifelong learning and adult education. A dialogue. London: Palgrave Macmillan; with L West & M Horsdal Embodied narratives. Connecting stories, bodies, cultures and ecologies. Odense: University of Southern Denmark and “Learning from the Aesthetic Experience: Complexity, Biography, and Critical Thinking in Adult Education” (forthcoming).

John London

John London has translated many poems and over thirty plays from languages such as Catalan, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, German and Portuguese. His interest in intersemiotic translation derives from research into the relationship between text, performance and image. This has led to the photodialogues You Know How These Things Are (1998) and the attempt to employ objects and images instead of word, in El teatre de la pàgina (1993) and Post-Karten (1994). John’s other premiered and published texts include Right Couples (1999/2001), The New Europe (2000), and Nex (2005). His most recent venture is The Light Trail and Other Suggestions for Performance (2019). His image translations have been shown in the itinerant exhibition transARTation!: Wandering Texts, Travelling Objects (2017). John is Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of the Centre for Catalan Studies at Queen Mary University of London. His studies include: Reception and Renewal in Modern Spanish Theatre (1997), Contextos de Joan Brossa (2010), and (as editor) Theatre under the Nazis (2000), Contemporary Catalan Theatre (with David George, 1996), El desig teatral d’Europa (with Víctor Molina, 2013) and One Hundred Years of Futurism (2017).
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Silvia Luraschi

PhD in Education and social pedagogist, post-doc researcher in adult education at Milano-Bicocca University and a qualified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method. She is expert on reflexive, critical and auto/duo-ethnographic methodologies. Her PhD explored the dynamic and embodied positioning of the researcher in a collaborative inquiry involving women and professionals in residential mother-and-child care centers.

Her last publications are ‘Research through, and on, Embodied Movement in Orienting One’s Self Towards the Future’ (forthcoming); with Formenti and Del Negro, ‘Relational Aesthetics. A Duoethnographic Research on Feminism’ (2019) and, with Formenti, ‘How do you breathe? Duoethnography as a means to re-embody research in the academy’ (2017).

She is presently involved in ‘Unexpected subjects: a senso-biographic and participatory research on the movements of young adult migrants’ (Grant ALSOS), where the aesthetic experience is a disruptive dialogic practice for both migrant and native young adults.

Manuela Perteghella

I’m an Italian curator, creative producer, writer and academic based in the UK. I have  published research in the field of literary, and intersemiotic translation, promoting the theory of translation as a highly creative and critical practice: Translation and Creativity (2006)  offers the basis for studying literary translation as a highly creative and critical practice. One Poem in Search of as Translator (2008) brought together translators, visual artists, poets  to investigate the relationship between visual and verbal texts. I have also written on theatre translation and adaptation, and I have co-edited Staging and Performing Translation (2011), which includes contributions from stage practitioners, playwrights, translators and producers of international theatre. More recently, my research investigates the relationship between translation and other art-forms, including the making of cross-media translations and multimodal poetics, and focuses on transnational activist practices, in particular multilingualism, translanguaging, and migrant art. I have curated the Arts Council England-funded TransARTation! Wandering Texts, Travelling Objects ( a participatory, touring and visual exhibition of inter-art translation (2016-17), and co-lead with Ricarda Vidal the project Talking Transformations: Home on the Move, which explores the power of the word ‘home’, its changing notions, and the impact of migration on this concept, by employing poetry, translation and film art.

Ricarda Vidal

Dr Ricarda Vidal is a lecturer, translator and curator. She teaches at King’s College London and is the founder of Translation Games, which explores the theory and practice of intersemiotic and multilingual translation. Together with Manuela Perteghella, she runs Talking Transformations: Home on the Move, which uses poetry, art and translation to explore notions of home. She also collaborates with the artist Sam Treadaway in running the bookwork project Revolve:R, which charts the visual and poetic communication between 24 international artists.

She is treasurer of the Cultural Literacy in Europe forum and, together with Madeleine Campbell, leads the Special Interest Group Intersemiotic Translation & Cultural Literacy. Together with Madeleine, she has edited the volume Translating across Linguistic and Sensory Borders: Intersemiotic Journeys between Media. (Palgrave 2019). Further publications with relevance to intersemiotic translation include “Translation as movement: migration and notions of ‘home’”, co-authored with Manuela Perteghella, Open Cultural Studies, 2018 and Home on the Move: two poems go on a journey (Parthian 2019)

Further publications include the monograph Death and Desire in Car Crash Culture: A Century of Romantic Futurisms (Peter Lang, 2013) and The Power of Death: Contemporary Reflections on Death in Western Society (co-edited with Maria-José Blnaco, Berghahn, 2014) and Alternative Worlds: Blue-Sky Thinking since 1900 (co-edited with Ingo Cornils, Peter Lang, 2014).