Humanities Institute

Retranslating "The Second Sex" for the 21st Century: Sex, Gender, and Philosophy

Fri, February 18, 2011 | Prothro Theatre, Harry Ransom Center, UT Campus

2:00 PM

"The Second Sex" by Simone de Beauvoir

Was Simone de Beauvoir's feminist classic lost in translation? Has it been rediscovered? The Second Sex  (Le deuxième sexe, 1949) was one of the most important texts of the twentieth century: brilliant, bold (scandalous, to some), complex, and interdisciplinary, ranging across philosophy, literature, history, and anthropology. The first English translation, attempted in the 1950s by a male zoologist from Smith College, edited out whole sections and misrepresented Beauvoir's philosophical stance. (That edition was published by Alfred A. Knopf, and correspondence about it is in the Harry Ransom Center at UT.) Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier have just completed a second English translation; this one unabridged. Their work has generated a new wave of discussion about translation and feminism. Borde and Malovany-Chevallier will discuss the unique challenges of Beauvoir's text, the history of its translation, and their attempts to capture its philosophical complexity. 


Sheila Malovany-Chevallier and Constance Borde attended Rutgers University in the 1960s and have been working together ever since. They have lived in France for over 40 years, where they have earned degrees in linguistics (one from Vincennes and one from Nanterre), taught at Sciences Po, and published extensively in a variety of fields. All along, they have been translating work in social science, social theory, feminism, and art from French to English.

Sponsored by:

The Harry Ransom Center

The Humanities Institute

The Institute for Historical Studies

Department of French and Italian

Center for Women's and Gender Studies

Center for European Studies

The Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality, Department of History


Bookmark and Share

  • Humanities Institute

    University of Texas at Austin
    HRC 3.360
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712