Critiques of world literature studies have highlighted power inequalities which privilege or restrict international prominence of literary texts and figures; this article suggests a specific method for gauging and mapping that process: translationscapes. Translation provides visibility to texts that otherwise remain functionally invisible, and the concept of translationscapes designates the sum total of texts of a given literary set made visible in a foreign language. These sets may be nation-based or organized through other criteria (authorial demographics, genre, time periods, etc.). These literary sets vary between languages due to a variety of factors. Analyzing their evolution and the patterns of divergence between them renders visible transcultural ideologies of world literature. To execute this, research must incorporate specific analyses of authors' oeuvres and individual texts, tracing patterns of their “appearance” in various languages. Concluding that ideologies based on Euro-American valuations of aesthetics and politics remain dominant in determining world literary production, this article argues for further research into translationscapes as a way of combining close reading of texts within larger contexts of systems-level research.
Translationscapes: On the Legibility of Transnational Ideologies in World Literary Systems
jordan a.y. smith is associate professor of International Humanities at Josai International University. He researches and teaches in comparative literature, Japanese literature and culture, and translation studies. He is completing a book, Global Comedy and Humor Studies, and developing a project combining his interests in translation studies and world literature centered on the idea of translationscapes. After earning his doctorate in comparative literature at UCLA, he served as Assistant Professor of English at Roger Williams University and of Comparative World Literature at California State University Long Beach. He writes poetry and performance scenarios and stays active as a translator of works by authors such as Yoshimasu Gozo, Alberto Fuguet, Noriko Mizuta, Saihate Tahi and many more. He serves as Japanese Poetry Editor for Tokyo Poetry Journal.
Jordan A. Y. Smith; Translationscapes: On the Legibility of Transnational Ideologies in World Literary Systems. Comparative Literature Studies 15 December 2017; 54 (4): 749–770. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.54.4.0749
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