NeMLA panel: Translation and Spirituality. March 17-20, 2016
The study of translation systems as a central mode of inquiry into a culture's literary history has led to fascinating case studies in the growth, destabilization, and/or renewal of religious and political ideologies, particularly in non-European and postcolonial contexts. The use and visibility of translation as a transformative force (both in terms of politics and poetics) encourages us to conceive of translation as an endeavor with a distinctly spiritual dimension--an act that embodies the rhetoric of renewal, rebirth, and revival. This panel will explore the ways in which translation, as both concept and practice, has shaped the texture, growth, and poetics of religious and spiritual movements, ranging from the spread and influence of prominent world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity to cultural movements such as hip hop and spoken word. How has the translation of spiritual texts shaped religious and linguistic communities? What is the relationship between translation and spiritual self-expression in literature? How do we translate our spiritual selves onto the page or onto the stage? This panel invites, but is not limited to, case studies concerning the translation of sacred texts (particularly in non-European contexts), as well as theoretical explorations in the translation of hymns, chants, spoken word, and prayer.