This year’s winner of the Open category of the M. Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding work in the field of Welsh writing in English is Dr Heather Williams with her essay entitled ‘Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams and the Radically Bilingual Text: Poems Lyric and Pastoral (1794)’. The essay was published in IJWWE, Vol. 2, 2014.
In her essay, Dr Williams critiques a theoretical position in Translation Studies, which have almost come to assume the status of universally acknowledged truth, namely Lawrence Venuti’s position that it is always better to use a foreignising translation strategy, which explicitly draws attention to the source text’s otherness and attempts to ‘translate’ it into the target culture, rather than a domesticating strategy, which attempts to smooth over the edges of the source text to make it blend into the target culture. In fact, as Michael Cronin has pointed out, the stakes are different when one translates a text from a majority culture into the context of a minority culture: paradoxically then a domesticating approach may actually serve to help ensure the survival of the target culture. Heather Williams ably demonstrates this by examining Iolo Morganwg’s Poems Lyric and Pastoral. It is an essay which works towards an understanding of the bilingual culture of Wales in the 18th century as much as a much-needed corrective to Lawrence Venuti’s original approach.
Heather herself says:
It’s a great privilege to receive this award for my work on Iolo Morganwg. I can’t think of another writer who has suffered so much from the mythology surrounding his name obscuring the texts that he wrote. I hope my essay will persuade people that Iolo is an important figure in both the literatures of Wales. The work was undertaken as part of the AHRC-funded project on ‘Wales and the French Revolution’ at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and draws on my longstanding interest in translation studies and study of cultural interfaces.
Mae’n anrhydedd fawr derbyn y wobr hon am fy ngwaith ar Iolo Morganwg. Anodd meddwl am lenor arall sydd wedi cwympo rhwng dwy stol i’r fath raddau. Gobeitho bydd fy ysgrif yn darbwyllo pobl bod i Iolo le pwysig yn nwy lenyddiaeth Cymru. Gwnes i’r gwaith fel rhan o’r prosiect AHRC ‘Cymru a’r Chwyldro Ffrengig’ yng Nghanolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru, ac mae’n deillio o’m diddordeb mewn astudiaethau cyfieithu a ‘r ffiniau rhwng diwyllianau gwahanol.
If you would like to find out more about the essay and about its author, you can watch an interview with Heather Williams here. Our thanks go to Dr Aidan Byrne (Wolverhampton University) for conducting the interview.
Please also see the University of Wales’s statement.