My current academic research focusses on translation as a way of thinking about the relationship between matter and meaning, particularly in relation to notions of place – the focus of my ongoing PhD research. I am part-way through a PhD in Translation Studies at Queen’s University Belfast and am an associate researcher with the Institute of Cornish Studies at Exeter University. The (working) title of my project is Taking The Measure of High Cross: translating the many worlds of Truro in the time of the Anthropocene.
In 2010 I completed an MA (with Distinction) in Aspects of Biblical Interpretation. I continue to publish work related to the Bible, which is academically informed but accessible to a wider audience, through my podcast, Bible Pirate, and my Bible (re)translation project, The Unauthorized Version.
My approach to academic work is interdisciplinary and collaborative. I like to think across subject areas to make new connections – itself a translational sensibility. I am profoundly ambivalent about the idea of authorship. I experience writing as deeply creative, profoundly meaningful and existentially traumatic all at the same time. It both makes me and unmakes me – and I feel the same about the words that result: they are both made by me and at the same time completely beyond me. I am so grateful for the people, creatures and objects I write with and for. They are the world for this exhilarating struggle.
CONFERENCE PAPERS: 2017 – present
Taking the Measure of High Cross: translation time in Truro
The Tangibility of Translation conference, National University of Ireland, Galway, Sep 2022.
In this paper I explore Karen Barad’s agential realism (which brings to together Bohr’s quantum theory, Foucault’s ‘material discursivity’ and Butler’s ‘performativity’) to theorise translation as “taking the measure of” and imagine an old stone cross in Truro as an “apparatus”. This presentation is the nearest to a summary of my PhD project, although many of the other papers here explore related theoretical work that I am using to expand and situate Barad within Translation Studies and conceptions of translation more generally.
I’m very grateful for my association with the Institute of Cornish Studies at Exeter University through which I have a local community of scholars to engage with research on Truro.
This paper explores a New Materialiast conception of time in alchemy as a way to rethink apocalyptic imagination in climate activism, specifically Extinction Rebellion. I began researching alchemy back in 2015, really only as a search for some symbols I could put to work in a project, but the more I read, the more I wanted to keep reading. Through early 2017 I ramped up that research, believing that alchemy performed a conception of materiality which had contemporary relevance in the context of New Materialist sensibilities. In Dec 2017 I wrote this (quasi-academic) article in which I tried to think alchemy with the Anthropocene (published on this website in 2020). However, I had not done sufficient resesarch to relate this to contemporary science. That has been a focus over the last few years – and this paper is one result of that work. The ISRLC is a fascianting interdisciplinary context for experimental research and I was really grateful to be able to present this work there, as well as the warm critical reception it received.
The Alchemy of Apocalypse: transmutation and the quest for survival
International Society for Religion, Literature & Culture, Chester University, UK, Sep 2022.
Biennial conference, Transmutations & Transgressions
Panel: Material Religion
With thanks to War Machine for publishing this presentation.
In Other Wor(l)ds: the conundrum of anthropocentrism in the Anthropocene
Sustainability & Translation conference, Institute of Cultural Studies & Theatre History, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria, Oct 2021.
With thanks to War Machine for publishing this presentation.
This paper critiques an article by Babette Tischleder on New Materialism and literary imagination by engaging the work of Kathryn Yusoff on geology, race and the Anthropocene. The conundrum is how to respond to the claim of a geological era that foregrounds the anthropos and at the same time demands that it be decentred. I use the discussion to reach for a more geological conception of translation, something I am continuing to think through in my research.
(I also presented a slightly updated version of this paper at the biennial Translation Studies Network of Ireland conference at Queen’s University Belfast in April 2022. The paper originated as a presentation for a PhD research conference organised by the Centre for Sustainability, Equality & Climate Activism at Queen’s University Belfast in June 2021.)
I was honoured to have my Labyrinth in Barcelona selected as the Artistic Initiative for this important triennial conference. The Labyrinth traces a virtual pathway through space and time in order to explore the conference theme, The Cultural Ecology of Translation through an encounter with the architecture, history, mythology and art of Barcelona. Due to Covid restrictions I had to undertake a redesign in order to curate an online experience, rather than the walk through the city I had planned. However, I was pleased with the result – the digital environment affords a different experience which makes it possible to cover more ground. I was very grateful for the feedback from one of the senior scholars at the conference: “Thanks for opening my eyes to a Barcelona I have lived in or nearby for 50 years!”
“Brilliant piece of work. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and so much in tune with the ethos of IATIS and the theme of its 7th conference.”
– Mona Baker, Professor Emeritus of Translation Studies, University of Manchester.
The Charge of The Bull: a Labyrinth in Barcelona
The Artistic Initiative of the International Association of Translation & Intercultural Studies conference, Barcelona, Sep 2021.
Conference theme: The Cultural Ecology of Translation
The Shape and Force of Meaning: translating the Mississippi
The Complexity of Socio-Cultural Emergence: Biosemiotics, Semiotics & Translations Studies conference, Aug 2021, KU Leuven, Belgium & University of the Free State, Bloemfonteinn, South Africa.
To watch the video, click the image above, and select the video “Panel 4”. My presentation begins at 15:35.
In this paper I contrast Karen Barad’s agential realism with Terrence Deacon’s work on the necessity of absence in the development of meaning, using a reading of the Mississippi river as a case study. I was grateful for the opportunity to experiment with some complex theoretical arguments – and I had to reckon with some important critiques as a result. I am currently working on a chapter for the edited publication that resulted from the conference.
This is my very first paper in Translation Studies, which I had the extroadinary priviledge of giving as a plenary at this innovative three-day seminar. It was the result of a couple of years of theoretical work reflecting on my Labyrinth project in terms of narrative theory, which I was then able to bring into dialogue with translation research on ecology, somatics, and the ‘material turn’ in translation studies (from which this seminar had taken its theme).
Although some of my subsequent research might appear to have taken different routes, it is still deeply influened by the direction I outline here. In particular, I raise the question of how matter can be conceived as bodies that perform, which has been the focus of much of my subsequent work with Barad, Latour, and material agency.
This paper was supplemented by a group excursion which I facilitated to explore the Italian neighbourhood in which the conference was taking place in terms the ideas explored.
Performing the City as Translation Zone
The 3rd annual Performance & Translation Seminar, Apr 2019, hosted by the Fondazioine Unicampus San Pellegrino, Misano Adriatico, Italy, in partnership with the Nida School of Translation Studies, Cardiff University, and Texas Christian University.
Conference theme: The Materiality of Translation
Labyrinths of Meaning: spirituality in city space
Iterations: spirituality in post-Christian times day conference, May 2018, Sarum College, Salisbury, UK
This paper brought my Labyrinth project experiences into dialogue with the narrative theory of Margarent Somers to theorise a post-Christian spirituality of space and place.
This was a plenary address at Sarum College, where I have occassionally taught on post-colonial biblical imagination, as part of the MA in Theology, Imagination & Culture.
This paper developed some of the core ideas of the paper below (Participation and Authority: the Labyrinth) but specifically in relation to a particular Labyrinth in the City of London which read city spaces alongside innovative readings of parts of Mark’s Gospel.
Like many academic fields, Bible translation is fascinating because of the ways that scholarship and industry intersect. Of course, in this context, industry is a peculiarly complex set of economic and religious concerns. The relationship between meaning-making processes and translation has immediate confessional implications for many funders of Bible translation. These were some of the complexities I navigated professionally for the five years leading up to this conference and had to negotiate academically in this conference context.
The Marks of the City: making meaning with post-religious Millenials
Tradition & Innovation in Bible Translation, the 9th bienniel Bible Translation conference, Sep 2017, Dallas, TX, USA.
Participation and Authority: the Labyrinth
Joint seminar of the Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship and the Ujamaa Centre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Mar 2017.
This paper brought together several years of work exploring the effects of globalisation on culture and hermeneutics, into dialogue with my (at that time, still relatively new) Labyrinth project, in order to explore questions of agency in meaning-making.
It was as a result of this seminar that I began my journey towards Translation Studies.