July 6 - 16

Helena Buescu, "'Doing' Things in World Literature"

The starting point of this seminar is the realization that there are a number of different actions and events that seem to recur in a variety of different literatures around the world. Among these we will single out: 1) constructing heroes ; 2) plots and counterplots; 3) loving; 4) making and unmaking worlds. Yet, these phenomena are differently elaborated in different cultures and literatures. In this seminar we will investigate how some of these literatures may enter into dialogue over a common set of phenomena. The comparative grounding of World Literature is therefore a theoretical position that the work in the seminar must also interrogate.

Helena Buescu is Professor of Comparative  Literature at the Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon. She has written several books on the theory and practice of comparative and world literature: Emendar a Morte. Pactos e(m) Literatura (2008), Cristalizações: Fronteiras da Modernidade (2005), Grande Angular. Comparatismo e Práticas de Comparação (2001), and A Lua, A Literatura e o Mundo (1995). 

Session 1: World Literature and Comparative Literature:

  • Bermann, Sandra. World Literature and Comparative Literature.
  • D'haen, Theo; Damrosch, David and Kadir, Dkelal (ed.). 2012. The Routledge Companion to World Literature.
  • Saussy, Haun. Comparisons, World Literature, and the Common Denominator.
  • Behdad, Ali and Dominic Thomas (ed.). 2011. A Companion to Comparative Literature

Session 2: Constructing Heroes:

  • Camões, Luís Vaz de. 2008. "Adamastor’s Episode V," 37-60. The Lusíads.
  • Homer. 1999. Book 24: v. 2. The Iliad.
  • Pepetela. 1996. Chapter V and Epilogue. Mayombe.
  • Girard, René. 1979. "The Gods, the Dead, the Sacred, and Sacrificial Substitution." Violence and the Sacred.

Session 3: Plots and Counterplots 1:

  • Second Book of Samuel  in The English Bible, King James Version: Old Testament.
  • [Ancient Egypt] The Tale of Sinuhe. 2009.   
  • Sophocles. 1994. Ajax. Plays: Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus.
  • Baines, John. Interpreting Sinuhe. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 68 (1982).

Session 4: Plots and Counterplots 2:

  • Machiavelli, Nicollò. 1992. The Prince.
  • Musset, Alfred de. 1995. "Lorenzaccio." Five Plays: Moods of Marianne, Fantasio, Lorenzaccio, Don't Play with Love, Caprice.
  • Foucault, Michel. 1998. "Right of Death and Power over Live." The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge.

Session 5: Loving 1:

  • The Song of Solomon in The English Bible, King James Version: Old Testament.
  • Alighieri, Dante. 2000. Paolo and Francesca episode: V. Inferno.
  • [Selected T’ang poetry] Graham, A. C. Poems of the Late T’ang.
  • [Selected T’ang poetry] Owen, Stephen. 1996. An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911.
  • Guillén, Claudio. 1978. Cambio Literario y Multiple Duración. Homenaje a Julio Caro Baroja.
  • Owen, Stephen. Reading The T’ang Lyric. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 39, n.º 2, (1979).

Session 6: Loving 2:

  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. 2009. "White Nights." A Gentle Creature and Other Stories: White Nights; A Gentle Creature; The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.
  • Racine, Jean. 2009. "Phaedra." Britannicus, Phaedra, Athaliah.
  • Luhmann, Niklas. 1998. The Rhetoric of Excess and the Experience of Instability. Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy.

Session 7: Making and Unmaking Worlds 1:

  • Pygmies of the Central African Forests in African Myths of Origin (ed. Stephen Belcher). 2005. African Myths of Origin.
  • Borges, Jorge Luis. 2004. "The Immortal." The Aleph and Other Stories.
  • Eliade, Mircea. 1992." Archetypes and Repetition." Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History.

Session 8: Making and Unmaking Worlds 2:

  • Assis, Machado de. 2009. "Midnight Mass." A Chapter of Hats: Selected Stories.
  • Pessanha, Camilo. “Who soiled these linens, who left them stained and torn”
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. 2004. "The Fall of the House of Usher." The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Voltaire. 2012. "The Lisbon Earthquake." The Works of Voltaire: The Lisbon Earthquake, and Other Poems.
  • Assmann, Aleida. "Texts, Traces, Trash: The Changing Media of Cultural Memory." Representations, 56 (1996).
  • Stewart, Susan. 1993. "Objects of Desire." On Longing: narratives of the miniature, the gigantic, the souvenir, the collection.


Thomas Claviez, Conceptualizing Cosmopolitanism and World Literature: A Critical Survey

Our seminar will focus upon a critical reading of what will be exclusively theoretical texts. Ever so often, critical concepts that are currently "fashionable" on the intellectual marketplace are appropriated and used in a rather unreflected manner – be it some philosophical giant, such as Immanuel Kant, or a "famous" researcher that dominates the contemporary scene. With the help of a few guiding questions for each of the texts read, the seminar will try to create a critical awareness about the presuppositions, the argumentation, and the implied consequences these approaches entail. This is indispensable in order to know where these texts can lead you as far as readings go, and where the blind spot and unreflected biases are that any theoretical approach entails.

As both the concepts of Cosmopolitanism and World Literature revolve around a main binary – that between sameness and difference – we will try to locate instances where these binaries appear, and how they are being designated and used for the purpose at hand. This seminar, thus, is geared toward students/scholars who want to question current – and their own – assumptions about canonized texts within the debates of Cosmopolitanism and World Literature, and to find out more about the connections between the two.

Thomas Claviez is Professor for Literary Theory and Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Studies (CCS) at the University of Berne, where he is responsible for the MA-program "World Literature." He is the author of Grenzfälle: Mythos – Ideologie – American Studies (1998) and Aesthetics & Ethics: Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn (2008). He is the co-editor of “Mirror Writing”: (Re-)Construc-tions of Native American Identity (2000), Theories of American Studies/Theories of American Culture (2003), Neo-Realism: Between Innovation and Continuation (2004), Aesthetic Transgressions: Modernity, Liberalism, and the Function of Literature (2006), and editor of the collection The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Aesthetics and Politics at the Treshold of the Possible that came out with Fordham UP in 2014. He is currently working on a monograph with the title A Metonymic Community? Towards a New Poetics of Contingency, on a collection of essays with the title Towards a Poetics of Community, and a German introduction to the oeuvre of Jacques Rancière.

Session 1: The History of Cosmopolitanism

Session 2: The Birth of Nationalism

  • Herder, Johann Gottfried. Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind
  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities.

Session 3: Liberal Interpretations of Cosmopolitanism

  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country
  • Butler, Judith. “Universality in Culture” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country?
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Reply” in Martha C. Nussbaum et al., For Love of Country?
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism.
  • Bauman, Zygmunt. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World.

Session 4: Whose Cosmopolitanism? The Problem of Universalism

  • Pollock, Sheldon et al. "Cosmopolitanisms" in Carol A. Beckenridge et al. Cosmopolitanism.
  • Beck, Ulrich. Cosmopolitan Vision.
  • Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness.
  • Calhoun, Craig. "The Class Consciousness of Frequent Travellers" in Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen (eds.). Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, and Practice.

Session 5: Origins of World Literature: Goethe to Auerbach

  • Auerbach, Erich. "The Philology of World Literature" in James I. Porter (ed.). Time, history, and literature: selected essays of Erich Auerbach.
  • Pizer, John. "Goethe's 'World Literature' Paradigm and Contemporary Cultural Globalization" Comparative Literature.
  • Cheah, Pheng. "What is a World? On world literature as world-making activity" Daedalus.

Session 6: World Literature or the World of Literature? Agon vs. Hegemony

  • Moretti, Franco. "Conjectures on World Literature" in Christopher Prendergast (ed.). Debating World Literature.
  • ---. "More Conjectures" New Left Review.
  • Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters.

Session 7: Travellin' Books or Planetary Literature?

  • Damrosch, David. What Is World Literature?
  • ---. "Script Worlds, Writing Systems, and the Formation of World Literature" Modern Language Quarterly.
  • Dimock, Wai Chee. "Literature for the Planet" PMLA.
  • ----. "Planetary Time and Global Translation" Common Knowledge.

Session 8: Alternative Communities – Alternative Stories?

  • Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Inoperative Community.
  • Agamben, Giorgio. The Coming Community.


José Luis Jobim, Universidade Federal Fluminense: "World Authors in Ibero-America: Literary and Cultural Circulation"

One important aspect of World Literature is the circulation of literary works beyond their place of origin, but many other aspects must be taken into consideration, such as the asymmetric positioning of authors and their work in the international circulation conditioned by the relative position of languages and cultures in a global market.  In Latin America the most important avant la lettre World Literature work in the 19th Century is Reflections on Brazilian Literature at the Present Moment: the National Instinct” [1873]). In this text originally published in New York Machado de Assis (the best 19th Century writer in South America) rejects the belief in “local color” and considers to be wrong the opinion that only “recognizes the national spirit in works that deal with a local subject, a doctrine which, to be exact, would greatly limit the wealth of our literature”. This seminar will discuss conceptual issues in relation to readings of literary texts from Latin America, USA, Europe and Asia, including Machado de Assis and the recent Nobel Prize writers Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

José Luís Jobim is the Chair of the Graduate Program in Literary Studies at the Universidade  Federal Fluminense, Brazil. He was president of the Brazilian Comparative Literature Association and has authored many articles and book chapters in English on relevant issues for world literature including “Literary and Cultural Circulation: Machado de Assis and Théodule-Armand Ribot” (forthcoming 2015), “Ways of Seeing the Past in Literary History” (2014), “Literary and Cultural Transfers and Exchanges: From National to Transnational Blocks” (2009), “Another Look at Identities” (2007). His research and teaching focus on Literary and Cultural Circulation, Transfers and Exchanges. He was a visiting scholar at Stanford University, University of Manchester, Sapienza Universitá di Roma (University of Rome), Universidad de Chile and the Universidad de la Republica (Uruguay), among others.

Session 1: Literary and Cultural Circulation:  Politics of Languages and Identities

  • José Luís Jobim. Literary and Cultural Circulation: Machado de Assis and Théodule-Armand Ribot.
  • Benjamin Abdala Jr. Asymetric Cultural Flows and Community Reflections. Lusofonia and its Futures.
  • Kanavili Rajagopalan. “The politics of Language and Linguistic Identities.” 
  • Françoise Lionnet. “World Literature, Francophonie and Creole Cosmopolitics.” Theo Dhaen, David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir. The Routledge Companion to World Literature.

Session 2: The Other as Cannibal

  • Michel de Montaigne. “Of Cannibals.” In Essays
  • Oswald de Andrade. “The Cannibalistic Manifesto.”
  • João Cezar de Castro Rocha. Let us devour Oswald de Andrade. A rereading of the Manifesto antropófago.

Session 3: Literary and Cultural Appropriation

  • Excerpts from Shakespeare, The Tempest.
  • Roberto Fernández Retamar. "Caliban. Notes Towards a Discussion of Culture in our America." The Massachusetts Review.
  • José Enrique Rodó. Ariel.

Session 4: National and World Literature

  • Machado de Assis. Reflections on Brazilian Literature at the Present Moment: the National Instinct.
  • Jorge Luis Borges. “The Argentine Writer and Tradition.”
  • Machado de Assis. The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas.
  • Castro Rocha, J. C. Machado de Assis: Toward a Poetics of Emulation.

Session 5: Rain Forest Literature

  • From Márcio Souza. The Emperor of the Amazon.
  • From Mário de Andrade. Macunaima..
  • Lucia Sa. Rain Forest Literatures: Amazonian Texts and Latin American Culture.

Session 6: Erasing the Other

  • From Mario Vargas Llosa. The War of the End of the World.
  • Euclides da Cunha. “Preliminary note” in Backlands: The Canudos Campaign.

Session 7: Magical Realism

  • From Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  • Mario Siskind. “The genres of World Literature: the Case of Magical Realism.” In: Theo Dhaen, David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir. The Routledge Companion to World Literature.

Session 8: Traveling Theories

  • Aijaz Ahmad. “Literary Theory and “Third World Literature”: Some Contexts”  in In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures.
  • Edward Said. “Traveling Theory” in: David Damrosch (ed.) World Literature in Theory.
  • Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.


Gisèle Sapiro, CNRS and EHESS, Paris: "How Do Literary Works Cross Borders (or Not)?"

Since the mid-19th Century, translation has become the main channel for the transfer of a text from one culture to another. The canon of world literature is composed of translated texts. However, the circulation of literary works in translation does not happen randomly. It is characterized by asymmetry, inequality, and the hegemony of certain languages. The seminar will explore different models for thinking this phenomenon: unequal exchanges (Casanova), flows of translation and world system theory (Heilbron), cultural transfers and polysystem theory (Even-Zohar), field theory and the economy of symbolic goods (Bourdieu). Three types of factors determining the circulation of literary works will be examined: economic, political and cultural. Attention will be paid to variations in time and space (including the communist and the postcolonial contexts) and to the role of agents: publishers, translators, critics, and other importers of foreign literature. Finally, norms of translation depend on the target culture. How do they shape the reception of the translated texts?

Gisèle Sapiro is Professor of sociology at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales and Research director at the CNRS. Her interests include the sociology of intellectuals, of literature and of translation. She is the author of La Guerre des écrivains, 1940-1953 (Fayard, 1999; English transl. The French Writers’ War, Duke UP, 2014), La Responsabilité de l’écrivain. Littérature, droit et morale en France (Seuil, 2011), Sociologie de la littérature (La Découverte, 2014). She has also (co-)edited Pour une histoire des sciences sociales (Fayard, 2004), Pierre Bourdieu, sociologue (Fayard, 2004), Translatio. Le marché de la traduction en France à l’heure de la mondialisation (CNRS Editions, 2008), Les Contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale (Nouveau Monde, 2009), L’Espace intellectuel en Europe (La Découverte, 2009), Traduire la littérature et les sciences humaines : conditions et obstacles (DEPS-Ministère de la Culture 2012), Sciences humaines en traduction (Institut français-CESSP, 2014). She currently runs the European Project INTERCO-SSH, assessing the state of the Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe and seeking to outline future pathways for cooperation across disciplinary and national boundaries.

Session 1: The World Republic of Letters: a hierarchized space

  • Pascale Casanova, 2005. “World Literary Space”, in The World Republic of Letters, translated by M. B. DeBevoise.

Session 2: Flows of translations: center and periphery

  • Johan Heilbron, 1999. “Towards a Sociology of Translation: Book Translations as a Cultural World-System,” European Journal of Social Theory vol. 2, n° 4.
  • Lawrence Venuti, 1998. “Globalization,” in The Scandals of Translation. Towards an ethics of difference.

Session 3: Channels of circulation

  • Ioana Popa, 2006. “Translation channels: A primer on politicized literary transfer”, Target. International Journal of Translation Studies, vol. 18, n°2.
  • Aleš Debeljak, 2004. “Concentric Circles of Identity”, in Ursuala Keller and Ilma Rakusa (Eds.), Writing Europe. What is European about the Literatures of Europe? Essays from 33 European Countries.
  • Efim Etkin, La Traductrice, trans. from the Russian, Editions Interférences, 2012.

Session 4: Translated literature in the reception space

  • Itamar Even-Zohar, 1990. “The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem.” Poetics Today vol. 11, n° 1.
  • David Bellos, 2011. “Translating Literary Texts,” in Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything

Session 5: The structure of the publishing field and the role of importers

  • Gisèle Sapiro, 2010. “Globalization and Cultural Diversity in the Book Market: The Case of Translations in the US and in France.” Poetics vol. 38, n° 4. Reprinted in David Damrosch ed., 2014. World Literature in Theory.

Session 6: The meaning of translation: reception and strategies of appropriation

  • Pierre Bourdieu, 1999. “The Social Conditions of the International Circulation of Ideas.” English trans., in Bourdieu, a Critical Reader.
  • André Malraux, 1952. “A preface for Faulkner’s Sanctuary,” (1933). English Transl. Yale French Studies, n°10.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, “On The Sound and The Fury: Time in The Work of Faulkner,” (1939) English Transl. http://drc.usask.ca/projects/faulkner/main/criticism/sartre.html

Session 7: Norms of translation

  • Gideon Toury, 1995. “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translation,” in Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond.
  • G.H. McWilliam, 1972. “Translator’s introduction”, in Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameroun.
  • Giovanni Boccacio, 1972, The Decameroun, Penguin Books, preface and tenth story of the third day.

Session 8: The circulation of texts in postcolonial contexts

  • Pascale Casanova, 2005. “The Tragedy of Translated Men”, The World Republic of Letters, translated by M. B. DeBevoise.
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, 1986. “The Language of African Literature,” in Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature.
  • Edouard Glissant, 1999. “Poetic Intention” (1997), in Denis Hollier and Jeffrey Mehlman eds. Literary Debate. Texts and Contexts.
  • ‘Abdellatîf La’bî, 1999. “Prologue to the review Souffle” (1966), in Denis Hollier and Jeffrey Mehlman eds. Literary Debate. Texts and Contexts.
  • Assia Djebar, 1999. “The White of Algeria” (1993), in Denis Hollier and Jeffrey Mehlman eds. Literary Debate. Texts and Contexts.


Galin Tihanov, Queen Mary, University of London: "Exilic Writing and the Making of World Literature"

This course is about the centrality of exile and exilic writing in the making of world literature. Not only is writing about exile a specific mode of producing a particular version of the world; it is also a way of thinking about movement, mediations, transfers, and boundaries. Crucially, exile is one of the foundational discourses of modernity that interrogates memory, identity, and language. Today’s notion of world literature is inseparable from a transnational and cosmopolitan perspective, which is intimately – and in a characteristically contradictory manner –linked to exilic experiences and the practice of exilic writing. In this course, we will analyse artefacts (literature, but also some paintings, two texts which fall in the genre of “philosophy of history”, a play, and a film) by European, Indian, Japanese, and American authors in order to begin to think about how exile and exilic writing have been inscribed in the very notion of world literature with which we work today.

Galin Tihanov is the George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. He has published widely on German, Russian, and East-European cultural and intellectual history. His most recent research has been on cosmopolitanism, exile, and transnationalism. Amongst his recent authored and edited books are Narrativas do Exílio: Cosmopolitismo além da Imaginação Liberal (2013) and Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism (2011, ed. with David Adams). Tihanov is winner, with Evgeny Dobrenko, of the Efim Etkind Prize for Best Book on Russian Culture (2012), awarded for their co-edited A History of Russian Literary Theory and Criticism: The Soviet Age and Beyond (2011). He is Honorary President of the ICLA Committee on Literary Theory, member of Academia Europaea, and Honorary Scientific Advisor to the Institute of Foreign Literatures at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Tihanov has held visiting appointments at Yale University, St. Gallen University, the University of Sao Paulo, and Peking University. 

Session 1: Exotopy and Inbetweenness

  • Verse selections from the Bible (Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon…”); Ovid, “Tristia” and “Ex Ponto”; and Agha Shahid Ali, “When on Route 80 in Ohio”, in Away: The Indian Writer as an Expatriate, ed. A. Kumar, New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Edward Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000, Ch. 17, “Reflections on Exile” (1984).
  • Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees”, in H. Arendt, The Jew as Pariah, New York: Grove, 1978.
  • Giorgio Agamben. "We Refugees", Symposium, 1995, No. 49 (2), pp. 114-119, trans. Michael Rocke.
  • Paulo Bartoloni, On the Cultures of Exile, Translation, and Writing. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue UP, 2008.

Session 2: Memory and the Languages of Exile

  • Viewing of selected paintings by Marc Chagall (I will provide them as a power-point in advance)
  • Marc Chagall, My Life, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.
  • Benjamin Harshav, Marc Chagall and the Lost Jewish World, New York: Rizzoli, 2006.
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin, Lonodn: Heinemann, 1957, Ch. 1.
  • Bryan Boyd, Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years, London: Vintage, 1993.

Session 3: Exilic Cosmopolitanism

  • Eugene Ionesco, The Bald Prima Dona, in: Ionesco, Plays, Vol. 1, trans. Donald Watson, London: Calder, 1958.
  • Eugene Ionesco, Notes and Counter-Notes, trans. Donald Watson, London: Calder, 1964.
  • David Damrosch, “Auerbach in Exile”, Comparative Literature, 1995, 47, No. 2. 
  • Galin Tihanov, “Why Did Modern Literary Theory Originate in Central and Eastern Europe? (And Why Is It Now Dead?)”, Common Knowledge, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 1.

Session 4: Exilic Anti-Cosmopolitanism

  • Nikolai Trubetskoi, “Europe and Mankind”, in Nikolai Trubetzkoy, The Legacy of Genghis Khan, Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1991.
  • Petr Savitskii, “A Turn to the East”, in Exodus to the East. Forebodings and Events: An Affirmation of the Eurasians, Idyllwild, CA: Charles Schlacks, 1996 [originally published in Russian, 1921].
  • N. Riasanovsky, “The Emergence of Eurasianism”, in Exodus to the East. Forebodings and Events: An Affirmation of the Eurasians, Idyllwild, CA: Charles Schlacks, 1996.

Session 5: The Affective Economy of Exile

  • Krzysztof Kieslowski, Three Colours: White (1994); to be screened ahead of the session.
  • Emma Wilson, Memory and Survival: The French Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski, Oxford: Legenda, 2000.
  • Julia Kristeva, Stangers to Ourselves, New York: Harvester & Wheatsheaf, 1991.

Session 6: De-Romanticizing Exile

  • Mori Ogai, “The Boat on the River Takase”, in The Historical Literature of Mori Ogai, ed. R. Bowring et al., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1977, Vol. 1 (The Incident at Sakai, and Other Stories).
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, trans. Ralph Parker, London: Penguin, 1963.
  • Galin Tihanov, “De-Romanticizing Exile”, in Critique of Cosmopolitan Reason: Timing and Spacing the Concept of World Citizenship, ed. R. Lettevall and K. Petrov, Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014.

Session 7: Homecomers and Boomerangs

  • Milan Kundera, Ignorance, trans. Linda Asher, London: Faber & Faber, 2002.
  • V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River, London: Penguin, 1979.
  • Fiona Doloughan, “The myth of the great return: memory, longing and forgetting in Milan Kundera's Ignorance”, in: Creativity in Exile, ed. Michael Hanne, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004.

Session 8: Reflective Epilogue

In this session, we build upon our discussions of the texts in Weeks 1-7 to revisit the centrality of exile in the making of world literature as a concept and practice. Questions of language, memory, identity, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism – and how they relate to one another – are once again in the spotlight, this time with the purpose of drawing some tentative conclusions while engendering a productive uncertainty about the epistemological status of these notions.


Lawrence Venuti, Temple University: "Translation Theory and Practice: Instrumental vs. Hermeneutic Models"

Although the history of translation theory and practice has been distinguished by a range of concepts and strategies, two approaches have recurred so frequently as to be considered dominant models. The first can be called instrumental, treating translation as the reproduction or transfer of an invariant contained in or caused by the source text, whether its form, its meaning, or its effect. The second can be called hermeneutic, treating translation as the inscription of an interpretation, one among varying and even conflicting possibilities, so that the source text is seen as variable in form, meaning, and effect. This seminar will explore the continuing pertinence of these models for the study and practice of translation by examining the work of various theorists and commentators, including Jerome, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Eugene Nida, Gideon Toury, Antoine Berman, and Jacques Derrida. The discussions will be grounded in analyses of translations into and out of English from a variety of humanistic genres and text types, including the lyric poem, prose fiction, the screenplay, and philosophy. Attention will be given to various theoretical concepts, including equivalence, norms, and ethics, as well as the fundamental relationship between theory and practice. Throughout we will be concerned with the centrality of translation to the study of world literature.

Lawrence Venuti, professor of English at Temple University, is a translation theorist and historian as well as a translator from Italian, French, and Catalan. He is the author of The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (2nd ed., 2008), The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998), and Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice (2013), as well as the editor of The Translation Studies Reader (3rd ed., 2012). His translations include Antonia Pozzi’s Breath: Poems and Letters (2002), the anthology, Italy: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (2003), Massimo Carlotto’s crime novel, The Goodbye Kiss (2006), and Ernest Farrés’s Edward Hopper: Poems (2009), which won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize.

Session 1: Translation and the Geopolitical Economy of Culture

  • Pascale Casanova, “Consecration and Accumulation of Literary Capital: Translation as Unequal Exchange” (2002), trans. Siobhan Brownlie, in Mona Baker (ed.) Critical Readings in Translation Studies.
  • Gisèle Sapiro, “French Literature in the World System of Translation,” trans. Jody Gladding, in Christie McDonald and Susan Rubin Suleiman (eds) French Global: A New Approach to Literary History.
  • Case Study: Ernest Farrés, “Compartment C, Car 293” (2006), trans. L. Venuti (2009)

Session 2: Translation in the World Literature Classroom; or How to Read a Translation

  • Maysa Abou-Yousef Hayward, “Teaching Mahfouz: Style in Translation,” in Waïl Hassan and Susan Muaddi Darraj (eds) Approaches to Teaching the Works of Naguib Mahfouz.
  • Lawrence Venuti, “Teaching in Translation,” in in Lawrence Venuti, Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice: Theory and Practice.
  • Case Study: Extract from Jacques Derrida, “Freud and the Scene of Writing,” trans. Alan Bass (1978).

Session 3: The Rise of Instrumentalism in Antiquity

  • Jerome, “Letter to Pammachius” (395CE), trans. Kathleen Davis.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, “Translations” (1882), trans. Walter Kaufmann.
  • Case Study: Extract from Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, Annie Hall (1977), Spanish trans. by José Luis Guarner (1981).

Session 4: The Invariant and Cultural Assimilation

  • Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt, Prefaces to Tacitus (1640) and Lucian (1654), trans. L. Venuti.
  • Eugene Nida, “Principles of Correspondence” (1964).
  • Case Study: Extracts from Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics, trans. William Weaver (1968).

Session 5: The Hermeneutic Model:  Variable Interpretation and Cultural Politics

  • Friedrich Schleiermacher, “On the Different Methods of Translating” (1813), trans. Susan Bernofsky.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Translations” (1819), trans. Sharon Sloan.
  • Case Study: Charles Baudelaire, “The Cat,” trans. Joanna Richardson (1972).

Session 6: Style as Interpretation in Modernist Translation

  • Ezra Pound, “Guido’s Relations” (1929).
  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Translators of The One Thousand and One Nights” (1935), trans. Esther Allen.
  • Case Study: Catullus 56 and 70, trans. Peter Whigham (1969), Louis and Celia Zukofsky (1969), Charles Martin (1979).

Session 7: The Translator’s Agency in Social Formations

  • Gideon Toury, “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translation” (1978/1995).
  • André Lefevere, “Mother Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theory of Literature” (1982).
  • Case Study: Italian Publishing Statistics; Carlo Lucarelli’s review of Edward Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce (1973) and Stefano Bortolossi’s Italian translation, Come una bestia feroce (2001).

Session 8: Translation Ethics and Cultural Innovation

  • Antoine Berman, “Translation and the Trials of the Foreign” (1985), trans. L. Venuti (2000).
  • Philip E. Lewis, “The Measure of Translation Effects” (1985).
  • Case Study: Julio Cortázar, “Blow-up” (“Las babas del diablo” [1959]), in The End of the Game And Other Stories, trans. Paul Blackburn (1967).