Oh boy does this sound great!
Call for papers: Queering Translation – Translating the Queer
Centre for Translation Studies, University of Vienna
26-28 March 2015
Aim and Theme of the Conference:
Since de Lauretis introduced queer theory as „another discursive horizon, another way of thinking the sexual“ (1991:iv), this approach has played an important role in the analysis of sex and gender in Literary, Film and Cultural Studies. Despite its claim of interdisciplinarity, Translation Studies has yet to fully integrate the concepts and theoretical instruments of Queer Studies. If Queer Studies problematizes the representation of otherness, then Translation Studies highlights the otherness of representation. Bringing together Queer Studies and Translation Studies, therefore, should destablize not only traditional models of representation, understood as mimesis, reflection, copying, but also the authorial voices and subjectivities they produce. The aim of this conference is to explore the common ground, both on a theoretical and practical level, of the two disciplines and to promote cross-fertilization by bringing together scholars from different cultures with various research backgrounds.
The conference is open to a variety of queer and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender topics and approaches. Possible themes include the following:
• Queer Theorizing of Translation/Interpreting
• Intersections between Queer Studies and Cultural Translation
• Queering Translation/Interpreting Pedagogy
• Translating/Interpreting (for) Marginalized Sexualities
• Constructing Queer Identities across Cultures / in Translation
• Translation of Queer Theoretical Writing
• Translation of LGBT Fiction/Films
• Queer Representations of Translators/Translation
Abstract proposals and deadlines:
Scholars are invited to submit 200-300 word proposals (with 3 keywords) for papers in Word as an attachment with the format: authorname.doc. or docx. (Please include your contact information in the body of your e-mail, not in the file.) Abstract proposals should be sent by 30 September 2014 to: email@example.com. Please indicate ABSTRACT in the subject line in your e-mail.
Presentations will be 20 minutes in length, followed by discussion. There will be sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Date of notification regarding acceptance of abstracts: 25 October 2014
Conference Languages: The languages of the conference will be English and German (with simultaneous interpretation into English)
Brian J. Baer (Kent State University, Ohio)
Martin Stegu (University of Economics and Business, Vienna)
Information and Contact Details
For all correspondence about the conference please use the e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information got to:
It’s been a month since I cut all my hair off, and it’s getting a little longer. I’m still getting compliments on it from friends I haven’t seen in a while (hello AWP). And today, on the train back to the Seattle airport to get back to Boston, something really nice happened. I had just gotten onto the train and was putting my headphones on when the man sitting across from me said “Excuse me…” I looked up at him, and in a super un-creepy way he said “You’re very beautiful.” I said thank you, and he smiled and went back to reading, and I put my headphones on and we didn’t interact again. It was nice, surprisingly un-invasive, and didn’t feel objectifying. He didn’t make me feel like there was any expectation attached to the compliment.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking, and talking to some of my gender-sensitive friends, about what differences I’ve noticed. Not as much in the way other people react to me, mostly I think because I’m less aware of the difference myself. But one unexpected thing: I’m showering a lot more, because I can. Turns out I like showering in the mornings, when it’s quick and easy. Before it took an extraordinarily long time to wash and style my hair. Now, I can do it all in under ten minutes. I feel somewhat bad about this, because I think in fact I’m using just as much water as I did before, rather than reducing in that way, but I am enjoying it immensely. Maybe I’ll let that keep happening for a little while.
Also turns out I’m wearing mascara more. I’m not exactly sure why this is. I’ve gone through phases of wearing some makeup, a lot of makeup (in the punk rock, big eyeshadow, kind of way), and no makeup (most recently). I still put some on every now and then, but mostly haven’t in years worn it with any regularity. But now that my hair is short, I feel like I need to feminize myself in some way, and mascara seems just about enough without requiring too much effort. And, as I mentioned before, I’m wearing earrings more. Probably also something to do with feminizing, but mostly I think it’s because you can see them now!
But I have also been wanting to wear skirts more, and have been more aware of my body in an interesting way. It’s almost as if my hair gave me some sort of protection – it made me read instantly as sexually-available-female. Even when I hadn’t washed it, styled it, had just thrown it back in a pony-tale (about 90% of the time), it was as though just possessing long hair was performing a kind of sexualized femininity. I’m not sure I would have said this before, I’m not sure I think this is true now, but that’s what it seems like at the moment.
Ok, but the other part of the experiment, where I stop shaving and all, is driving me a bit nuts. Not the legs but the armpits. It’s uncomfortable, I’m finding. Like, it catches and pulls sometimes, and that really hurts. And maybe this is my Hispanic and Russian heritage at work, but it’s really freaking annoying. It’s been a month, and it’s as long and thick as its ever been, so this might be literally growing pains. I’d like to give it another month just to see if I adjust physically. But I’m not sure I’ll adjust psychologically even so. I definitely feel sort of vulnerable. Even though it’s winter, and no one can tell, I feel like if I take off my sweater and am in a t-shirt, I’m exposed. I’m exposing something about myself that’s super abnormal. And coming from someone who has for the majority of her life been unapologetically abnormal in many ways, that it makes me uncomfortable says something.
What I think it says is how deeply I’ve internalized the super hypocritical double standard about body hair and gender. That far more than my long/short hair switch, this is something really different. It elicits a strong response, in me, and because I know it will in other people, I cringe in anticipation. Even one of my very progressive male friends, when I told him I’d stopped shaving (it was in context, not just a random announcement) immediately said “gross.” Didn’t even think about it. I laughed and asked why, and pointed out the double standard, and he at least got to the point where he said “to each their own, I guess…” as though before he determined it was OK I hadn’t been entitled to decide how I would groom myself. But I anticipate/fear this reaction in other people in part because I’m self-conscious all the time, and in part because I’ve had it myself.
When I was younger, and I would see girls with unshaved legs, I would silently judge them. Feminist-hippies. Going too far. I was a lot younger in many ways, and really didn’t understand at all the basis of my scorn. But now, experimenting with what is surprisingly perceived as a radical gesture of feminism, partly for those reasons and partly for others, it’s haunting me. As soon as it warms up, I fear seeing it in the eyes of strangers. I know I shouldn’t care what strangers think, or even friends whose sexist programming makes them react as though I’m doing something disgusting by doing exactly what men already do. We’ll see if I can get there. Or if the physical discomfort, combined with the emotional discomfort, is too much.
Part of me is already giving myself permission to shave. It’s about choices, and I have a right to make mine. I just want to fully understand why I’m making the ones that I am.
I have a bad habit, it’s something I can’t really help. I have extraordinarily good hearing, and like many introverts, I’m especially observant in public. I notice a lot of little things all the time, and have mostly learned to tune out (to some degree) other people’s conversations. But I can’t do it when they’re talking about poetry.
I have another bad habit, one that I suspect is common to those in my general demographic – MFA-land educated writers. When I hear other people talking about poetry, I can’t help but listen. And then I judge. I really don’t want to, I’m actually a firm believer in the “room-in-the-pool-for-everyone, just-because-I-don’t-like-it-doesn’t-mean-its-invalid” school of poetry. It’s how I run my workshop (figuring that reading widely and carefully, and learning to talk respectfully about many different kinds of poets and poetry is more useful than learning one person’s version of “good” poetry, which is of course subjective and culturally conditioned).
So I struggle with this. Last week, in Elliot Bay, I was submerged in the potery section, squatting down to look at the books on the bottom shelf, when two young women (maybe high school, maybe a bit older) started talking behind me. The one was asking the other for suggestions of poetry books. “I don’t really like poetry that much…” she said, after picking four books off the shelf. I had to look, what had she handed the other woman before confessing that. A guarded over-the-shoulder glance revealed only one title, but it was revealing enough. It was Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing. Ok, I love Leonard Cohen. I went to see him live, I know most of his songs by heart, but I don’t particularly care for his written work. Like many famous-in-other arts people (ahem, James Franco, and that girl who played the woman in Twilight), his poetry isn’t terrible, but it’s not really that great in my opinion. No wonder she doesn’t like poetry, I thought, if that’s what she’s reading. But I didn’t say anything.
Then on Sunday, walking through the Fremont Sunday market, just as we were about to go inside to escape the cold rain, I noticed a youngish hipster-looking man with a small typewriter (covered), and an open panhandler-style briefcase with a sign in it that was hawking custom-written poems. I’ve seen this kind of poetry-peddling before in other cities, Boston and New York most recently, and actually think it’s a pretty cool idea. Why not, right? Poetry gets unfairly accused of irrelevance, so why not make it personal. I was inclined to stop and buy a poem. In retrospect, I regret not doing it, but at the time I thought, perhaps deeply unfairly, “how good could it be?”
Taste is taught, learned, institutionalized, commodified, and essentially destroys the thing you apply it to. It cannibalizes itself.
Later in the afternoon, sitting in a crowded delightful cafe, I was handed a sticker by a three-year-old girl. It was of a pink ice cream cone. It made me smile. Then she handed one to the woman behind me, who I hadn’t really been aware of before. But after that I heard her talking with the man sitting next to her, about Kickstarter, and him inventing things and printing them on 3D printing machines, and it all sounded really interesting, actually. Until he started talking about how he likes to rap, but he’s not very good. Then she started talking about how it was one thing to write the poetry and another thing to perform it, and slam poetry, and how she wants to go to a slam but hasn’t yet. And I couldn’t help it, my hackles raised. I think rap is great, fun, powerful, awesome music. But I resist calling it poetry.
I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and I think I resist calling rap (and really any other music) poetry, because it both denigrates music as a high form of artmaking, and appropriates poetry figuratively. In the same way that happens when someone refers to a painting as poetry, or a sunset, or a political speech. These things are clearly not poetry, but by calling them poetry as an attempt to elevate them does a disservice to each art form. Maybe that argument doesn’t hold water, but that’s all I was thinking today in the cafe, overhearing this woman talk enthusiastically about a kind of poetry she’d never experienced.
A few days ago on Facebook I read the 55 comments (and counting) on Joyelle McSweeney’s page about the James Franco poem in the current issue of Diagram. I’d seen someone else in a previous discussion about this use the word dilettante, and that makes sense to me as a reaction to him. But of course those of us who are self-critical have to wonder if we’re just haters, just envious of his success and audience and career and wealth and fame and all that envy and bitterness just seeps out in attempting to continue to be the arbiters of taste. I have to say I’ve lost some respect for Frank Bidart, and Greywolf, and now Diagram, because it seems a little parasitically opportunistic to publish his work. Because the work, while not terrible, is also not great. And I know my own bitterness comes from knowing so many great writers who don’t get published by the likes of Greywolf, so many who are so much better than Franco, but wouldn’t turn that kind of profit and fame towards the press.
Poetry for most of my academic career has been the site of so little real reward that it’s upsetting to acknowledge that it’s for sale like most of our culture, and any celeb with a fortune and a little bit of talent can just purchase the success that most of us strive for decades for, and many never reach. And maybe that’s really the heart of it. We don’t want to accept that we’re participants in a machine that functions within a system, not outside of it, and that system is consumer capitalism, and so we are the product and the consumers of ourselves, and something that will really “sell,” will be more valuable than our own cannibalizing scene.
Maybe none of that made sense. James Franco is eating all our pie, and so there’s none left over for us. Except the pie is made of the deteriorating corpses of a culture that has been so unprofitable that even the scent of success nauseates. Especially when it’s someone else’s.
AWP, the largest writers’ gathering known to man, is in Seattle this year. Sometime next week, about 10,000 writers, editors, publishers, MFA program representatives, and essentially anyone who things they can earn a living working with literature in some capacity will be descending on Seattle. Like
lemmings running to their doom a herd of unicorns running into the sea to escape the red bull.
I came out a week early, to visit family and friends, and generally enjoy the awesomeness of Seattle before it becomes an anxiety-ridden madhouse. There are so many articles out there already about making the most of the madness, surviving the conference, etc. (Roxane Gay’s is maybe the best.) This is not one of those. I’ve been to AWP for the last four years in a row, I have no advice worth sharing. My strategy in all the previous years has been bookfair-only.
Like many writers I’m an introvert, in the clinical sense, in that interacting with people, or being in large groups is incredibly draining. I get a headache about two hours in, start getting adrenaline-shaky about an hour after that, and then the migraine, sets in. A full day at the bookfair does this every time. But what I realized is that this year might be worse.
I’m happy to have been invited to be on two panels. Sad that they’re on the same day, one right after the other. And then the reading Drunken Boat is hosting (I’m Managing Editor, so definitely need to be there, and am pretty excited to hear all the readers read) and the reading I’m part of are actually overlapping, and on the same day. I couldn’t imagine a more difficult day if I tried. This seems unimaginably harder than the limited interactions of the bookfair…
Anyway, AWP blah blah blah. This is actually meant to be about my strange experience getting here. I flew, not that strange, but what was was running into a friend from middle school who I haven’t seen since then, essentially. She was traveling with her two young children, and we spent a good amount of the flight catching up. It was a strange, nice surprise.
During a lull in our conversation on the plane I ventured back to use the restroom. Because two girls had decided they desperately needed to tart themselves up in one of the bathrooms, there was a long line, and so I stood in the back with the flight attendants to be out of the way of people coming and going from the other bathroom. Naturally, one of the flight attendant wanted to chat. He started by complimenting my boots. Thanks. Then my unicorn necklace. Thanks again. I’m not all that social when I don’t have to be, and this guy was throwing off some seriously weird vibes.
There was another passenger back there, and man about my age, and more of less of my demographic – visibly liberal, educated, etc. As soon as I got drawn in, he shot me a couple of “WTF” glances, because the next statement out of this flight attendant’s mouth was “You know they recently found a unicorn horn.” I laughed, assuming it was a joke. “I mean, so many species go exctinct…” he said. “It was probably a narwhal…” I started, before he cut me off talking about how so many species went extinct, and there was proof that unicorns were real. Ok.
Other passenger dude left at that point, but I still had to wait for the bathroom. I don’t even remember how he transitioned but the next thing out of his mouth was about how New York City was a socialist paradise communist haven. “Sounds great to me!” I inserted, hoping he would just stop. Oh, but no, then he started going on about lazy welfare people and Obama, and then it came out that he had moved to Florida where he currently lived (and apparently swallowed hook line and sinker all the Fox-news bullshit out there). Sigh.
This is when it got really good. Another passenger, a big townie kind of guy wearing a Red Sox shirt, started talking about how many people (implied: brown-skinned) in Massachusetts just took advantage of welfare and lived off the system and…. well, you know the whole bullshit-y fact-less spiel. The flight attendant (brown-skinned, with an accent I couldn’t place) joined in. Insanity.
Finally, I extricated myself when townie-passenger started talking about how all the good doctors in Canada had come to the U.S. because they didn’t like socialized medicine, and it was true because he’d read it in a newspaper. I thought I wouldn’t call The Herald a news-anything, and said “I need to leave this conversation before I say something I regret.” and walked away. Without having used the bathroom.
Now I don’t assume everyone shares my politics. I’m extremely liberal, and I recognize that debate and conversation makes an educated populist stronger and better. But I just can’t debate with people who aren’t using logic. Who believe that just because someone says something on TV or in a newspaper it must be true, without questioning the source, the motivations, the finances behind it. Who believe that unicorns really existed.
This is already a long post, but I just want to end on unicorns. I’m a big fan, have been for a long time. I wear a unicorn necklace almost every day. The unicorn was my father’s and when I was little I played with it, and wanted to have it. “When you’re old enough,” he always said. And then he gave it to me on my 21st birthday. I like that unicorns are the emblem of a particular internet-based group of atheists. I like that unicorns are cheesy and fantastical, and a little nerdy and girly.
And Seattle has always been a city of unicorns for me. The last two times I’ve been here I’ve been especially attuned to them, finding several around the city on any given day. Today, my first day in Seattle of this trip, was no exception. We’ve found three so far: one on the cover of a book at Elliot Bay, and two (one on a flask, one on a t-shirt with a cob of corn instead of a horn) at store in Capitol Hill called Retail Therapy.
I’m looking forward to seeing if the unicorns will make an appearance at AWP. So listen, if you see any at (or around) AWP, pic + #unicorn #AWP14 please! I’ll be keeping an eye out…
Running an online literary journal is a lot of work. I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and just started as the Managing Editor for Drunken Boat, an awesome and well-established journal for literature and arts entering its 15th year of continuous online publication (wow!).
One of the things I’m doing a lot of is infrastructure building, which includes researching and applying for grants and other kinds of funding. And one of the things that keeps being a problem is our lack of geographical specificity. We’re incorporated and based out of New York City, like so many great publishing ventures. But our staff lives all over, and our audience is all over, and we don’t really do very much physical-community wise, but have an incredible virtual community. A lot of grants specifically seek to serve a physical community, and while I appreciate that as an important thing that the arts can do, I wonder why developing and supporting a virtual community is not being considered as an important function for an arts organization to have.
For example, we have folks in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York City, California, Hong Kong, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t that a strength? Doesn’t that mean that ultimately we’re reaching a broader audience, more diverse geographically, culturally, economically, etc.? Shouldn’t that be rewarded, cultivated even?
So, those of you who are involved in arts management, any ideas how to deal with this problem/feature of being a virtual organization? I’ve been looking around on CLMP, but their resources are almost all pre-digital, so not much help.
Anyone who’s been in the academic world as a graduate student recognizes a general malaise that kicks in right about now. The sense of the imminent end of the semester, the end of the degree program for many (and for me this year), the end of funding, the end of certainty. For those still in grad school, but whose funding changes from year to year; for those leaving grad school and entering the whatever-comes-next phase for them; for those with non-tenure non-contract teaching jobs, this is the period of uncertainty that we come to expect. But I, for one, never seem to have adequately prepared for the emotional and psychological toll of it. The uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next, of feeling invested into a field and a career path that (odds are) will never pan out, of having to come up with stop-gap after stop-gap, plans b-f, and the anxiety of getting-too-old, not-enough-publications, haven’t-heard-back-yet.
It struck me, in talking about this, that I talk about poetry like it’s a chronic medical condition (which I have some experience with). That there are good days and bad days, and ultimately you can’t control them, you just have to keep going, because there really is no alternative. My chronic pain made me an optimist – I had to believe that things would get better someday, that it wouldn’t be like this forever. But somehow, I can’t quite translate that into my life as an artist.
Yesterday was a bad poetry day. I’ve learned that I have them, and somehow I have to accept that, just like part of my struggle with depression is accepting that I have good days and bad days. And accepting that part of being an artist means opening myself up for nearly-constant rejection, and very little measurable affirmation or success. My already-fragile ego gets battered daily. And some days are worse than others.
I know that I’m pretty lucky, for an artist. I have a supportive, gainfully employed spouse; access to a great community of supportive, generous friends and mentors. I have a set of skills that are easily transferable outside of academia and the arts, and a steady stream of freelance work in my fields. Logically, I know all that means that things will inevitably be ok, no matter what success or failures I meet with my artistic output. But somehow it doesn’t seem like enough.
The voice in my brain that wins on the bad days says things like: If you’re so smart, then why don’t you have a book out? If you’re so capable, then why don’t you have a career yet? If your life is so stable, then why don’t you feel happy all the time? A lot of the time, the voice says that I’m too old to be doing this. That I’ve been doing this for too long. That if you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, you are legitimately insane. That those rejections are not a reflection of fit, but an evaluation of my talent and ability as an artist in the world. That the break I’m hunting for will never come, and by the time I smarten up and realize that I’ve wasted 10 or more years of my life on something that just wasn’t going to work out I’ll be too old to do anything else.
Not everyone gets to be a poet, the voice says to me.
Logically, that has to be true. The numbers that get bandied about poetry blogs say something like there are five zillion MFA programs churning out a cazillion poets every year, and most of those won’t ever “make it” in the sense of being able to support themselves through academia while also carving out the time in their lives to continue to have significant artistic output. Most of those probably won’t ever get a book published with at “nationally recognized press.” You know this, you’re smart, the odds are against you, the voice says to me.
And then the voice goes on. Plus you’re a woman, and there’s an observable gender bias in publishing. Not only are the numbers against you, your gender is against you too. And you write experimental work, so there’s another strike against you. You’ll never even come close to winning prizes, contests, fellowships, residencies, etc. These are all facts, indisputable, observable, demonstrable. No arguing there.
There’s a saying that if you tell 100 men going into battle that 99 of them are going to die, they will all think “too bad about all my buddies.” No matter how persuasive the numbers are, the logic of it, there’s always going to be that part of you that thinks you’re going to make it, to be the lucky one, to get the break, etc. That’s cruel hope, that optimism, or insanity, that keeps pushing.
So on days like yesterday, and today, when I’m having a bad poetry day (and had to teach, try to encourage 15 burgeoning artists to be excited about poetry) it’s extremely hard for me to answer the inevitable question. The one that comes at the end of all the logic and irrefutable evidence of my inescapable failure. When is enough, enough? When do I make the call, admit it isn’t working, find something else to do that at least is sustainable (as in supports me), or at least makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something in the world, however small?
I can’t answer that question right now. I don’t know how to. But I’d love to hear how other people face these days, if you do at all.
(But please, no pity here. As anyone who goes through the same thing can tell you, pity is absolutely the opposite of helpful.)
Got this among a number of S.I. books I’m referencing in putting together a syllabus called The Art of Wandering. What started as an interest solely in psychogeography has transformed, in large part thanks to this collection, into an interest in the relationship between art, politics, and everyday life. The city is the landscape that controls this relationship, and the stage on which this relationship plays out.
This anthology took me a while to get through, and not because I found the subject uninteresting. The writing, as a lot of S.I. writing tends to be, is extremely dense. The organization of the book was a useful guide, and helped me figure out whether I needed to read all, some, or none of a particular piece as it related (or didn’t) to my interest.
One of the interesting things that kept coming up, and is coming up in another book I’m reading right now (The Ethics of Authenticity) is a critique of modernism’s perversion of the individual. “The arts have withered on account of the individualism upon which they rest” writes Constant in a piece in this book. And of course the major goal of the S.I. movement, the practice which all others were posited as being in service of, was Unitary Urbanism. The goal is a new way of being in the world. And for most of these writers, being in the city was the only way of being in the world.
Which is interesting, because anecdotally several of our close friends have recently (or not so recently) decided that the “new way of life” they want is utterly disassociated from being in the city. A kind of communal sustainable way of life that is wholly self-contained.
But for the S.I. the city was the center of modern life, and needed to be forcibly open to playful engagement by the arts as a form of actively changing the relationship of power structures. “…the sole thrilling direction remains the fragmentary search for a new way of life.” Debord wrote. Also: “We remind you that it is a question of inventing new games.” Play is extremely important as a method of transgressing inherited boundaries. “To the extent that the spectacle of almost everything that happens in this world provokes our anger and our disgust, so we nevertheless increasingly know how to make fun of it.” See: John Stewart.
Perhaps the best statement of the confluence of city, play, art, politics, and the everyday is in the text “Unitary Urbanism” written by Constant:
“In reality, the modern urbanist regards the city as a gigantic center of production, geared to the efficient transport of workers and goods, to the accommodation of people and the storage of wares, to industrial and commercial activity. The rest, that is to say creativity, life, is option and comes under the heading of recreation and leisure activities.”
And this, of course, is not only soul-sucking, but absolutely untenable. It is not living.
What really impresses me about this texts is, despite the absurdity of some propositions (intentionally provocative in their absurdity), these ideas and the careful analysis behind them really hold up. History has not only borne out a lot of the claims of the destructive nature of modern industrial capitalism on life, but has supplied evidence of it that I think many of even these original thinkers would be surprised at. The tragedy is that we are seemingly unable to escape the inevitable conclusion of this modern “progress,” given how little has substantively changed in the sixty years since S.I.