Cultural Studies: Translation & Cmprtivsm (LSE, CSAP)

This course examines the past and current fates of translation
and comparatism. It approaches “translation” from the point of view of
theory (the subject of metadiscursive rumination), of trope (as a rich metaphor
for a variety of processes and experiences of transformation), and of practice
(as the painstaking transference of a text from one language to another or,
more generally, from one medium to another). It approaches “comparatism”
historically as well as theoretically, both tracing its contours through the
origins and growth of a field of study known as “comparative literature” and
exploring the philosophical arguments that have been made for and against
comparatism. How is it possible to engage in an act of cross-cultural
comparison without subjecting one side to the dominant ideas of the other? Is
comparison conceivable without an underlying universalist foundation? Such are
some of the vexing questions at the heart of the modern project of comparatism.
As these questions only begin to suggest, translation and comparatism are
intimately linked topics. An act of translation is an act of comparison; and
comparatism all too often depends on translation.

The texts for the course will be theoretical, practical
(i.e. essays exploring the actual practice of translation), literary, and
cinematic. The semester will be divided into three units: (1) Translation:
Theory and Practice, (2) Translation: Trope, (3) Comparatism. The readings for
the first unit are essays exploring translation from a theoretical as well as
practical perspective; for the second unit, we will read/watch literary texts
and films that allow us to appreciate as well as critique the uses of
translation as a trope (that is, as a metaphor); and the third unit will be
devoted to explorations of comparatism (a methodology founded on comparison).

Since I am interested in translation at a theoretical level
at the same time that I am myself a practicing translator, I welcome students
who are interested in an analytical approach to translation as well as students
wishing to engage in practical projects of translation. I believe the class
will be of interest to any student interested in the phenomenon of translation,
whether from a theoretical, cultural or practical standpoint. It will also be
of interest to students wishing to explore comparative literature and
comparative cultural studies. Hawaiian language and literature are outside my
area of expertise, but the course will accommodate materials and perspectives
relating to translation in Hawai’i and I welcome students with such a
background/interest to the course.

Students will make a presentation related to a reading (also
presented to me as a five-page paper); write a midterm five-page project
proposal with a five-page annotated bibliography; and submit a twenty-page term
paper at the end of the semester. Class discussions will be supplemented by
discussions online.

2. Provisional Reading/Viewing List :

The Translations Studies Reader, ed. Lawrence Venuti.
2nd Edition.

The Tempest (Norton Edition), William Shakespeare

A Tempest, Aime Cesaire

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient (movie), dir. Anthony Minghella

Graphs. Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History,
Franco Morreti

Other Asias, Gayatri Spivak

Cinema Babel, Abe Mark Nornes

Course Packet of Readings:

Introduction to Translation as Cross-Cultural
, Anuradha Needham

Introduction to Postcolonial Translation, Susan
Bassnet and Harish Trivedi

From Legendary
Hawai‘i and the Politics of Place: Tradition, Translation, Tourism
, Cristina


Pi’ilani, The True Story of Kaluaikoolau

“Some Thoughts on ‘Non-Western’ Classics: With Indian
Examples” and “On Translating a

Tamil Poem”, A. K. Ramanujan

“Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka

“The Aleph,” Jorge Luis Borges

“Yorick,” Salman Rushdie

“On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” John Keats

“Easter 1916,” W. B. Yeats

Introduction, Comparative Literature, Susan Bassnet

From Theory in an Uneven World, R. Radhakrishnan

From The Translation Zone, Emily Apter

From The Poetics of Imperialism, Eric Cheyfitz

“”Under Western Eyes’ Revisited,” Chandra Talpade Mohanty

From The World Republic of Letters, Pascale Casanova