Queer Translations @ The MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Seattle, WA—  The latest Chronicle Review posits the question, “The End of Queer Theory?”  but the question may be premature. This year’s Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting featured about as many panels on “Gay Studies in Literature and Language as last year’s.

Moreover, panelists introduced the topic in areas which laymen might think are totally devoid of that aspect. “Queerness is a process of translation,” Merrill Cole of Western Illinois University declared. “As that which contravenes normative significatory practice, even in monolingual contexts, queerness plucks signs from stale, commonplace arrangements, scatters them, twists them back together differently.”

“The process, and not the product, matters—a playfulness, even when stakes of the game are life and death, more valuable than its toys. In turning a “queer” text from one language to another, the translator attends not only to linguistic incommensurabilities, but also to translation already in play, how the text turns about its own language.”

“As fifteenth- and sixteenth-century European Humanists read, digested, and translated Plato, they found themselves faced with a fundamental problem,” Todd Reeser of the University of Pittsburgh claimed. “On the one hand, the rebirth of the Ancients  in the Renaissance implied a ‘fidelity’ to the words and the sense of Greek texts.”

“ On the other hand, many Humanists refused to translate faithfully, and thus to propagate, the institution of pederasty or the other homoerotic elements in the Platonic corpus.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org



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