Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature
Bilingual Interactions in the Early Modern Period
Contributors are Giacomo Comiati, Ronny Kaiser, Teodoro Katinis, Francesco Lucioli, Giuseppe Marcellino, Marianne Pade, Maxim Rigaud, Florian Schaffenrath, Claudia Schindler, Federica Signoriello, Thomas Velle, Alexander Winkler.
From International Relations to World Literature
Contributors include, amongst others, Jean Bessière, Johan Callens, Reindert Dhondt, César Domínguez, Erica Durante, Ottmar Ette, Kathleen Gyssels, Reine Meylaerts, and Djelal Kadir. Authors discussed comprise, amongst others, Carlos Fuentes, Ernest Hemingway, Edouard Glissant.
World Literature and the Making of Language
Stefan Helgesson and Christina Kullberg
This article outlines a theory of world literary reading that takes language and the making of boundaries between languages as its point of departure. A consequence of our discussion is that world literature can be explored as uneven translingual events that make linguistic tensions manifest either at the micro level of the individual text or at the macro level of publication and circulation—or both. Two case studies exemplify this. The first concerns an episode in the institutionalization of Shakespeare as a global canonical figure in 1916, with a specific focus on the South African writer Sol Plaatje’s Setswana contribution to A Book of Homage to Shakespeare. The second case discusses how Edwidge Danticat’s novel The Farming of Bones (1998) evokes the bodily and affective charge of boundary-making by troubling the border between Haitian and Dominican speech.
Yoko Tawada, Chantal Wright, and the World
The paper examines Chantal Wright’s “experimental” English translation of Yoko Tawada’s “Porträt einer Zunge” as Portrait of a Tongue in terms of the interplay between translinguality and translationality, especially in terms of what Deleuze and Guattari call “majoritizing” and “minoritizing” impulses in literature, and what David Damrosch calls “hypercanonization” and “countercanonization.” The goal is to explore not so much whether Tawada gains or loses in Wright’s translation, as whether any gains in translation tend to transmajoritize and so to hypercanonize her or to transminoritize and so to countercanonize her.
Steven G. Kellman
The articles in this special issue on Literary Translingualism by Helgesson and Kullberg, Robinson, Boyden, and Bodin all insist on language as fluid and non-discrete. What Boyden calls “amphilingualism” is a useful way to describe the porousness of languages. These and other scholars of translingualism are at odds with the ascendant nativism that is enforcing boundaries between nations and languages. Translations further problematize the sovereignty of language and national culture, and they are crucial to the process of elevating a text in the global hypercanon. What Bodin calls “heterographics,” the coexistence of separate scripts within a single text, is a useful extension of literary translingualism.
Isaac Rosenfeld and Saul Bellow’s Yiddish “Translation” of T.S. Eliot’s Modernism
This article offers an explorative reading of a parodic Yiddish rendition of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” entitled “Der shir hashirim fun Mendl Pumshtok” that was composed by Isaac Rosenfeld and Saul Bellow during their student years in Chicago. The article argues that, by measuring themselves against the main representative of high modernism and by giving a markedly ethnic inflection to Eliot’s poem, Brooks and Rosenfeld attempted to transcend the assumed provincialism of their situation and elbow their way into the American literary canon. More generally, the article suggests that parodic “translations” of this kind, by highlighting the postvernacular dimension of literary language (Shandler), extend the purview of translingual studies by valuing performativity, orality, and collaboration over and against competency as defining elements of linguistic border crossing in an age that has sometimes too hastily been characterized as post-national or post-Romantic. The article thus points to the relevance of what the author calls literary amphilingualism, a prevalent but understudied phenomenon in translingual studies.
The Theory Deficit in Translingual Studies
Michael Boyden and Eugenia Kelbert
Auditory, Visual, and Cultural Features
Heterographics (“other lettering”) refers to the use of two scripts in one text or a translation of a text from one script to another. How might the occasional use of heterographics in literary texts highlight issues of cultural diversity? Drawing on intermedial theory and studies of literary multilingualism, literary translation, and pluriliteracies, this article examines various functions of heterographics in selected contemporary literary texts. Examples of embedded Greek, Chinese, Cyrillic, and Arabic script are analysed in works published in Swedish, French, and English between 2004 and 2015, selected because they thematise cultural diversity and linguistic boundaries. The conclusion is that heterographic devices emphasise the heteromediality of literary texts, thereby heightening readers’ awareness of the visual-spatial features of literary texts, as well as of the materiality of scripts. Heterographics influence readers’ experiences of cultural affinity or alterity, that is, of inclusion or exclusion, depending on their access to practices of pluriliteracies.