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Transhemispheric Translation: Scenes from Contemporary Latin American Poetics

Olivia Lott, Comparative Literature, PLAS Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer

September 20, 2023 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · 3rd Floor Atrium, Aaron Burr

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication

This talk is organized around case studies of “transhemispheric translation,” a term employed to describe poetic experiments that fundamentally foreground translation—between Spanish and English, Latin America and the United States—for the purpose of negotiating hemispheric power differentials. Beginning in the context of the inter-American Cold War of the late 1960s and early 1970s, this talk demonstrates that translation operated as a space of Cold War power. This context allows for a re-reading of Cold War poetic performances of inter-American contact: the Argentine poet Juan Gelman’s 1969 pseudotranslation of a fake US poet and the Chilean multimedia artist Cecilia Vicuña’s 1973 “untranslation” into English. The talk ends by considering a recent example—non-equivalent self-translations by the Puerto Rican poet Urayoán Noel—to consider how transhemispheric translation continues to function in anti-imperialist fashion today.

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