SPECIAL ISSUE – Untranslatability: Theory, Practice and Politics
Translation is an activity that marks the differences which surface in cross-cultural encounters. It seeks to negotiate these inevitable differences to help us understand language-cultures that are (not) ours, or comprehend an ‘other’ who is (not) us. The non-negotiable differences then draw us to the titular question, “How does the pursuit of finding an equivalence fare in this process?”. It is in these gaps of translation that we encounter the untranslatable, that which cannot be comprehended or translated. Amidst the ongoing discussions around World Literature, that thrives on translation, untranslatability disrupts the presumed coherence in the very process and makes us aware of the irreducible differences latent within alternate ways of expression.
This Special Issue aims to initiate a discussion on the various tenets of Untranslatability: epistemological, semiotic and aesthetic concerns that shall enable us to understand translation; the process and its philosophy in a nuanced and novel manner.
Untranslatability, which has long been studied as an obstacle or a hurdle in the act of translation; needs to be approached from alternate trajectories that see it as a leeway enabling the indigenous and vernacular discourses to retain the exclusive differences that mark the identity of their language-cultures. Can we study this “right to untranslatability” as a way of resisting the Anglocentric, monolingual way of perceiving World Literature, by asking questions pertaining to what constitutes the world and the region, the global and the local? This raises further questions on how we understand and see the world, which is inescapably tied to the language-culture(s) we are a part of. The problems locating the ‘world’ in “World Literature” and the importance for ‘regions’ and vernacular discourses to mark their presence within the ‘world’ along with discussions around the trajectory and reception of regional and vernacular texts and genres as they travel across the world are welcome. What happens to the untranslated texts and the untranslatable ideas in the niche of World Literature is an aspect this issue seeks to engage with. The problem of a myopic view of World Literature, and the epistemic violence induced in the process of translation which is baked by a social and political power shall be addressed. It shall also focus on the formation of ‘untranslatable’ and initiate a semiotic study of language, its use, the process of meaning-making within a language and the signs and symbols particular to a language-culture. The importance of studying the notion of referentiality in language and its immense contribution in understanding the roots of untranslatability shall be another crucial line of inquiry.
The special issue on Untranslatability invites research papers, articles and book reviews which focus on, but are not limited to the following sub-themes to justify the relevance and scope of the issue:
1. Translation as a Cross-Cultural Transaction; 2. Negotiating Differences across Language-cultures; 3. Self/Other in Translation; 4. Problems in Translation; 5. Formation of Untranslatable; 6. Politics of Untranslatability; 7. Language and Meaning Making; 8. World Literature and Regional Literatures; 9. Indigenous Narratives; 10. Traveling Genres Across Frontiers; 11. Epistemological Concerns of World Literature; 12. Vernacularization of World Literature; 13. ‘World’ in World Literature; 14. ‘Region’ within the ‘World’; 15. Dialectics of Global and Local; 16. Signs, Symbols and Referentiality; 17. Aesthetic concerns of Untranslatability; 18. Interminability of Translation
Guidelines: All the papers must be sent to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Last date of submission: 30 October 2020. Format/ Font: MS Word in Times New Roman (MLA 8th Edition). Endnotes are preferred over footnotes as they are easier to process. All the papers must be original, unpublished and written within 3600-5000 words. An abstract in 150-250 words and 4-5 keywords should be embedded within the paper. Each paper should include a cover letter suggesting the name of the author, along with a brief bio, not exceeding 50 words. The name of the author and co-author (if any) must not be written or suggested anywhere except the cover letter. The paper should be original and must have a proper bibliography and work cited section. An acknowledgement shall be sent upon receipt. Any suggested revisions by the editor and peer reviewers must be returned in two weeks without delay. Simultaneous submissions are not allowed.
Special Issue on “Indian Writing in English”
CONCEPT NOTE: The body of work called “Indian Writing in English” which had its inception under the sign of colonialism has proved to be both exciting and powerful down the years. Its phenomenal proliferation in terms of production and that too of high artistic excellence has earned it a distinct identity of its own. However, for this, it had to traverse varied intellectual terrains and phases of development and decolonization. What made it possible was indeed the spectacular rise of a whole line of talented and illustrious writers who have made original use of the English language and artistic forms, suiting their own cultural needs. They have dominated the literary scene nationally and internationally, winning the most coveted awards and recognition. They have proved to be the producers of a rich postcolonial discursivity.
The English language, which was once introduced in India by the British to create a class of interpreters for administrative purposes, has been ultimately appropriated by the so-called “natives”, making it their own, a phenomenon that points out the postcolonial need of reconfiguring and reorienting a colonial legacy. While a number of eminent writers have argued in favour of giving up writing in English calling it a part of the colonial legacy which as they claim overshadowed myriads of regional Indian languages and literatures produced in the country, others, however, point out the historical need of “writing back to the centre”. Again, while some claimed that Indian Writing in English came from the privileged English-speaking elite, it is also true that this very language has given representation to the “Other” of the society who remained subjugated and inarticulate under hierarchies of caste, class, culture, gender, race, ethnicity, centre, margin, global, local, nation, trans-nation, and so on. In addressing such issues, Indian Writing in English has proved to be dynamic, radical, subversive, and pan-Indian in respect of representation and reception. In this context it is important to note that a lot of Bhasha literatures is now getting translated into English.
This Special Issue on Indian Writing in English hopes to address these varied and complex issues and aspects of Indian Writing in English and accordingly calls upon the prospective contributors to shed new light on the issues involved in terms of fresh ideas, new approaches and required scholarship.
SUB-THEMES: The sub-themes as mentioned below are only suggestive of the area and are in no way restrictive. Articles with other relevant themes are also welcome:
- Historical and political contexts
- Nation, nationalism and postnationalism
- Postcolonial India: its problems and prospects
- Partition and its trauma
- Migrancy and diaspora
- Secularism and multiculturalism
- Indian feminism and women empowerment
- Caste and gender
- Dalit literature
- Dalit Feminism
- Globalization: Its impact on culture and politics
- Industrialization and ecology
- Newer themes in poetry
- Literature of the marginalized
- Indian Writing in English and the global market
Submission Deadline: 30 November 2020
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Essays aiming to promote or preach political perspectives are strongly discouraged, as it goes against the publication ethics of the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics that the Founding Editor, Prof. Ananta Charan Sukla had maintained since the inception of the journal in 1977. All unsolicited essays must be properly typed out in MS Word (Times New Roman, 12 Font), not exceeding 5,000 words and not below 3,600, complete with an abstract of 100 words alongside 4 or 5 keywords, incorporated within the essay itself. Essays abounding in solecisms, catachresis or those insufficiently argued shall be returned unread. ‘Works Cited’ must preferably follow the MLA 7th or 8th convention without exception. Footnotes are welcome, although Endnotes are easier to process, hence recommended. Each essay submitted must carry a declaration that it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. The least suspicion of plagiarism will result in an outright rejection of the article.
The cover letter should include a brief author’s bio with no revelation of the author’s identity in the paper itself. An acknowledgement shall be sent upon receipt. Further communication shall be made only after the editor considers the paper worthy of publication. Revisions must be returned in two weeks without further delay. The author is implored to wait at least two months before withdrawing his article, in case no communication has been made. Simultaneous submissions are not allowed.
Asking and Answering the Sublime Question: Visions, Views, Vitalities
One of the reasons why the Sublime has remained submerged while other branches of aesthetics have flourished throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century could be its theoretical ‘ungraspability’. It remains ungraspable because it has been historically understood to be antagonistic to something more theoretically stable and reflectively concrete as the beautiful, not to mention the trajectory that the Sublime has had to chart from being a concierge of divine metaphysics to being an ‘inside-out’ metaphysical abnormality. To cite an example, when Longinus says: “Sublimity raises us towards the spiritual greatness of God”, one is bound to enquire the concreteness of ideas like “spiritual”, “greatness”, “God”, the relationship between this triad and “raising”, and if this “us” implies that the atheistically-driven human cannot experience the Sublime, or if Sublimity extirpates everything that does not believe in God as in-human, or as “not” us. On the contrary, Barnett Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis (Man, Heroic and Sublime), apart from being massive in size and devastating in effect, promotes an intelligent paradox, if I may tweak Lyotard’s critique of his painting: the ‘Present-ness’ of sublime metaphysics. This disturbingly huge theoretical playground contends something acute: Is there a way of explaining away the elusiveness of the sublime? This is not a question that this volume seeks to answer; instead, it seeks to elaborate the possibilities of a theoretically sound question that can be posed to better understand sublime elusiveness rather than explaining it away. To put it in another way, the need for promoting a framework that explains obscurity without explaining it away – the necessity of paradoxical ontologies as opposed to paradoxes answered is the first and only objective of this volume on the Sublime.
Essays of a descriptive-analytical creed are invited on areas of research pertaining to features of the Sublime, with special emphasis on these in particular:
• The Classical and the Romantic sublime – an interdisciplinary approach
• Music, Painting, Architecture and Photography – theorizing sublimities
• Sublimating the Picturesque paradox
• Harold Bloom’s ‘The American Sublime’ and ‘The Sceptical Sublime’ – Reading De-constructively.
• 19th century Continental philosophy and literature – Phases and Discourses on the sublime
• The Psychoanalytic Sublime – subliminal, subliminalities and ideology.
• The psychology of the Unconscious and the Apocalyptic with regards to the Sublime
• Scientific, Moral and Absurd sublimities in marginalized literatures of the world
• Indic Scriptures, Philosophies, Epics and the theorizations of an ‘Indian Sublime’ in the 21st century.
The Philosophy of Motion Pictures: New Trajectories
The philosophy of motion pictures is today one of the leading branches of aesthetics. Several central debates, such as the ones on medium essentialism, on the ability of film to do philosophy, on the ethics of film, and on the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, while still evolving, are being matched by new literature on topics such as the emotional and cognitive resonance of film, contemporary auteurs, criticism, animation, and the relation between film, TV series and video games, among others. This issue of JCLA invites papers to explore traditions within the philosophy of motion pictures, its long-standing debates, but also, and, especially, its future trajectories, with special emphasis on these in particular:
1. The relation between film criticism and the philosophy of motion pictures; 2. Continental and analytic approaches; 3. Changes in production, streaming platforms, and the rise of TV series; 4. Motion Pictures and Videogames; 5. Animation; 6. Costumes and set design; 7. Sound and film; 8. Neurocognitive approaches to the moving image; 9. World cinema; 10. The contemporary auteur
Please mail your submission to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. All queries can be mailed directly to these e-mails.
Comparative Aesthetics in the Times of Contagion
It was not very long ago when comparative aesthetics took up the challenge of globalization and postcolonial discourse, and argued for the recognition of cultural difference as a basis of comparativism. The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (1998), edited by Michael Kelly, as for example, successfully met the challenge and its four volumes brought different aesthetic discourses: African, Chinese, European, Indian, Latin American, Middle-Eastern aesthetics on the same table. How does the practice of comparative aesthetics respond to the humongous threat faced world-wide from the Corona pandemic?
After all, the notion of contagion is not a negativity for aesthetic experience and metaphors of pervasion richly abound in different discourses. Fire as an allegory of emotional contagion often emerges as a favourite metaphor for Indian aestheticians to describe a successful poem, play, music or painting. Is it perverse to turn contagion as an enabling framework when the current pandemic poses a dire threat to contemporary society? In fact, the question to ask is if this is an opportune moment to celebrate aesthetics in any way? There may be two contrasting ways to address contagion in aesthetics:
1. Its more positive dimension is related with the idea of sadharanikarana or “extended self” which aestheticians like Abhinavagupta have embraced to refer to the expansion of aesthetic experience beyond one’s individual self. This is more of a contagion without contact: when a rasika (connoisseur), well versed with the codes of aesthetic experience, is able to escape his or her limited self to enjoy the emotion as a common experience or when the frisson of emotion passes through all.
2. We can take a pause from the celebratory mode and reflect on the way aesthetics has brought within its ambit representation of horror, disease, discomfort and even disfigurement. Out of the nine rasas from classical Sanskrit aesthetics, Bhayanaka (fearful), Raudra (Fierce), Bibhatsa (Disgusting) point towards feelings we associate with contagion and capture our daily confrontation with the rapid spread of the pandemic that we glean from the media.
We invite scholars and researchers to relate aesthetics with the new contemporary sublime that engulfs us regardless of our nationality, race, religion, gender and sexuality and perhaps think beyond cultural difference towards the new universal posed by this pandemic.