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Friday, March 13 • 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Borders and Tongues: How Translation Fractals Race

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Borders and Tongues: How Translation Fractals Race

How does our understanding and experience of race factor into the decisions we make as translators? How do culturally specific ideas about race exponentially complicate the cross-cultural and cross-language interactions and interventions translation entails?

And how does translation (as a reading practice or a creative practice) fractal our thinking about race, usefully undermining the comfortable or uncomfortable categories that are constructed by cultures, pedagogies, histories? How are our ideas about race changed in the intimate process of writing from inside another person’s language, of thinking from inside the architecture of another person’s syntax?


This hybrid panel/reading—comprised of Jen Hofer (moderator and presenter, representing the language justice and language experimentation collective Antena), John Keene, and James Thomas Stevens—explores the interactions and intersections of translation and race. We are interested in thinking about how race informs the work we do as translators, both in terms of our aesthetic and political approach to the practice, and in terms of questions of audience, reception, the relationship between departing and arriving languages, who we choose to translate, and the wide array of complexities that occur in the transposition of context that translation entails.

Each of us will present briefly on questions most central to our own thinking about the complex multi-directional inflections of race and translation, referencing specific work we've translated or ideas around translation that are present in our creative work. Then, each of us will give a brief reading/performance that reflects the work or ideas referenced in our presentations. We intend to activate both theory and practice, and to leave ample time for questions and conversation, as this is a topic that is rarely discussed and we are eager to hear impressions from other colleagues.


avatar for Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, urban cyclist, and co-founder of the language justice and literary activism collaborative Antena. Her latest translations include the chapbook En las maravillas/In Wonder (Libros Antena/Antena Books, 2012) and Ivory Black, a translation of Negro marfil by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press 2011). Her latest homemade... Read More →

avatar for John Keene

John Keene

Associate Professor, Rutgers University at Newark
John Keene is the author of the poetic novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995); of the poetry collection Seismosis (1913 Press), with artist Christopher Stackhouse; and of the short fiction collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015) . He also is the translator of Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst's "porno-chic" novel Letters from a Seducer (Nightboat Books and A Bolha Editora, 2014). He has published his fiction, poetry, essays, and... Read More →

Friday March 13, 2015 3:45pm - 5:00pm
UC 331

Attendees (13)