The first weekend of May in NYC is going to be a good one: Even if your spring fever has worn off, you’ll have the chance to see a handful of luminaries in the field of translation studies speaking at a really excellent-sounding conference, which is open to the general public: “Crossing Worlds: Translation, Eventfulness and the Political.” The conference is a co-production of the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College and the Columbia Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
The program is split over a Friday and Saturday and a pair of venues: the elegant James Room in Barnard Hall and Columbia’s Maison Française.
Here’s an account of the questions on the organizers’ minds as they assembled the program:
Translation has long been approached in terms of linguistic reciprocity, equivalences, commensurability or incommensurability, as well as the promise or withdrawal of meaning among languages. But can the eventfulness of translation itself be thought? For instance, in what ways may translation help us reimagine the boundaries of past and present, of here and there, moments of epistemic rupture, cultural negotiation, political violence, mediation and remediation, and so on? Does the eventfulness of translation reside in the textual world, such as treaties, novels, letters, news, legal code, and other documents and publications? Or does it lie in the translation machine, mechanical, bureaucratic, automatic, or otherwise? Or rather, is it to be located in the mind of the translator and his/her reader? Since the problem of translation is ubiquitous and cuts across so many disciplines and fields, the study of this subject cannot but move beyond conventional translation studies. Currently, new approaches are being developed here and there to open up the field to other kinds of inquiries, and we have arrived at a point where the eventfulness of translation needs to be interrogated.
Here’s the list of speakers:
Emily Apter (NYU), Tamara Chin (Brown), Peter Connor (Barnard), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia), Karen Van Dyck (Columbia), Brent Edwards (Columbia), Nergis Ertürk (Penn State), Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia), Michael Hill (University of South Carolina), Lydia Liu (Columbia), Rosalind Morris (Columbia), Brian O’Keeffe (Barnard), Avital Ronell (NYU), Naoki Sakai (Cornell), Shaden Tageldin (University of Minnesota), Phillip John Usher (Barnard), Hent de Vries (Johns Hopkins), and David Wills (Brown).