VIDEO: Emily Apter on the politics of translation

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Emily Apter recently discussed her new book Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability as part of the Great New Books in the Humanities series hosted by the Humanities Initiative at NYU.

On the idea of untranslatability in world literature, Apter explains:

Part of what I am doing here is activating the untranslatable, not as pure difference (which is rightly suspect as just another non-coeval form of the romantic absolute or a fetish of the Other) but as a linguistic form of creative failure.

Watch Apter's talk:


Apter reflects on her the genesis of her book:

The book's original title, I recall, was The Politics of Untranslatability in Comparative Literature ... But I soon realized that comparative literature for me really wasn't the center of gravity, or if it was, it was because it was a problem of translating itself. It's in a sense a term-generating machine, that seeks to name or relate comparative non-national entities or units. And if its an idea that congeals around some utopian idea of a planetary paradigm with an ecopolitcal purview, it's continually facing the problem of repeating the unipolar logic of global capital.

Visit Humanities Initiative at NYU for more.

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