Un/Translatables Conference at U Penn

Following up on the 2009 Modern Language Association Convention, the official theme of which was literary translation, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania is hosting a conference that brings together literary translators and scholars and theorists of translation along with author Yoko Tawada, who was born in Japan but writes in German (as well as Japanese) and has made cultural translation of various sorts a central motif in her work. The conference kicks off tonight with a keynote address by Azade Seyhan, author of Writing Outside the Nation, and will continue on Friday and Saturday with various translation workshops (including one run by me, on translating Yoko Tawada) as well as a second keynote address by theory star Lawrence Venuti, a reading by Tawada, and various panels on topics ranging from translation in the early modern period to the semiotics of cross-cultural representation to the Cold-War Chinese translations of Rilke and Goethe. I’ll be speaking about my translation of Tawada’s novel The Naked Eye on a panel with Bettina Brandt, who has translated Tawada into Dutch, and Leslie Adelson of Cornell University will be presenting a paper appealingly entitled “Rusty Rails and Parallel Worlds: Trans-Latio in Yoko Tawada’s Das nackte Auge.” Translator-poet Charles Bernstein is on the program as well, presenting Shadowtime, an opera libretto he wrote on the subject of Walter Benjamin. This is a particularly rich program for an academic conference, so if you’re in the Philadelphia area, do check it out. The full program with panel descriptions, locations, etc. is available on the conference website.

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