Sieges and The Unwritten

This piece by Miljenko Jergovic in my English translation was in the New York Times this weekend. I was impressed by the quality of the editing by Max Strasser. I’ve done a lot of editing, though not in a journalism vein, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. His light but confident touch was reassuring, as were the explanations for why he thought certain things needed expansion, omission, or re-ordering. The work of editing is often thankless, so I wanted to thank him here.

The content of the essay contrasted sharply with an idea that emerged from a symposium that was organized at Indiana University, Bloomington over the weekend, by Jacob Emery and Sasha Spector, which was focused on Sigismund Krzhizhanovsky. “Planting the Flag” was a somewhat intimate affair, with some thirty or so people sitting at one table, presenting their work and talking in depth about this re-discovered “classic” author (a phenomenon worth discussing unto itself) now being translated and published both in Russian and in English for the first time. K (for short) was almost unknown in his lifetime, a philosopher poet of sorts, though he wrote prose for the most part. I could never do justice to his work or the discussions at the symposium, so I won’t try here, except to note one thought that has stuck with me and is percolating.

It emerged from a discussion of the phenomenon of imagined but unwritten works, which it turns out is much more widespread than I realized. K explored it extensively and suggestively, and during our discussions the idea came to take shape for me in a compelling and provocative manner. While there is an infinite number of books that have been imagined but not written, there is a much more concrete sense in which each time a book is created in the world, it opens an absence and a potential in every other language for its translation. These are works that have been authored — for the author is the author even when the book is translated — but not yet written in the language of the receiving culture. They are authored but unwritten.

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Translation and Rhetoric

And with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Indiana University:

Call for Papers

Special Issue of POROI on Rhetoric and Translation

Guest Editor: Russell Scott Valentino, Indiana University

Rhetorical theorists since Aristotle have known that rhetoric is a temporally and spatially situated form of communication that forges (or fails to forge) a bond between a speaker and an audience through the use of commonplaces (topoi): canned formulas that can be varied to generate appropriate action and novel insights. The form of communication called translation offers fertile ground for rhetorical exploration. A good translator skillfully manipulates a receiving culture’s language and expressive modes, soliciting readers’ participation in worlds beyond their own.

Recognizing how infrequently the resources of rhetorical reflection have been brought to bear on the act and products of translation, POROI: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Analysis and Invention, is calling for papers for a Special Issue on rhetoric and translation.

Guest Editor Russell Scott Valentino, Chair of the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at Indiana University and President of the American Literary Translators Association, will be joined by associate guest editors Jacob Emery, Assistant Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Indiana University; Sibelan Forrester, Professor of Russian at Swarthmore College; and Tomislav Kuzmanović, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Zadar, Croatia.

Anticipated publication date of the Special Issue is Summer 2016.

Topics and approaches are open. Papers might concentrate on issues about translators, audiences, or texts. For example, translator introductions situate both works and their translators vis-à-vis the receiving culture, using appeals to authority, language expertise, and sometimes, empathic connection; re-translations require justification, often on the basis of timeliness (language gets old, politics change; rights become available); the construction of gender, race, and ethnicity in translated works is rife with questions that are rarely articulated in any explicit form; the reception of texts requires that audiences respond on the basis of translators’ work, but reception is also affected by powerful historical, political, cultural, and institutional forces; within the field of translation practice proper, familiar topics circulate with abandon—from invisibility to “theory,” the marking of dialogue, and the comma splice. The editors hope to receive submissions from a wide variety of scholars and artists. The length and style of submissions is open.

POROI is a peer-reviewed e-journal that appears twice a year under the auspices of the University of Iowa Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry. Its platform encourages papers of varying lengths and is friendly to incorporating visual and graphic materials.

Submissions may be made through the POROI journal portal at http://poroi.grad.uiowa.edu

The final date for submission is November 1, 2015.

Papers will be reviewed as received.

For further information contact: russellv@indiana.edu