Graduate Program

350:660 - Seminar: Translation, Circulation, and Difference: Africa in World Literary Culture

Course No:  350:660
Index: 18032
Distribution Requirement:  A5, B, C
Monday – 9:50 a.m.
MU 207

Seminar:  Translation, Circulation, and Difference;  Africa in World Literary Culture

Olabode Ibironke

At a moment in which translation, circulation, and the sociology of literature are becoming pressing questions in World Literature, this course will examine the notion of translation in its classical and current conceptions. We will begin by probing the relevance of terms that are commonly associated with the discourse of translation such as: “original,” “translation,” “translation as deferred original,” “equivalence,” “transference,” “translation zone,” “untranslatability,” “mistranslation,” “adaptation as translation,” and more recently, “born translated.”

The geographies of translation covered in this course include: cross-cultural translation in African diaspora literature; the postcolonial turn in translation; and reparation and decolonial translation in African literature. We will also open up the idea of translation to consider varying methodological approaches and readings not limited to: forms of intralingual translation as determined by status and class, and differential spacio-temporal locations, for instance, a bourgeois writer representing peasant historical situation could be read as translating peasantry, just as a modern writer representing tradition could be read as translating tradition. Finally, we will return to the relationship between intra- and interlingual translation by asking how the complex and symbiotic processes and forms of inference and transference in the translation of Africa in the world might serve to question both classical and current translation theories of World Literature.

Reading List
In addition to theories of translation by Emily Apter, Paul Bandia, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Brent Edwards, Rebecca Walkowitz, Gayatri Spivak, among others, the course will include selections from fictional works of African novelists and poets who are themselves translators: Kunene, Ngugi, Mariama Ba, and Okot P’tek. Paule Marshall’s Praisesong will help exemplify African American translation of Africa. The example of the Turkish writer, Tanpinar, will be used to pose questions that highlight the structure of cultural patronage through which texts are selected for translation.

Assessment: Weekly blog posts, participation, class presentation, a proposal, midterm draft, and a final essay.