CFP ACLA 2019: "Does the Untranslated Travel?: Towards a Regional World Literature"

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Sourit Bhattacharya, IIT Roorkee, India / Dr Arka Chattopadhyay, IIT Gandhinagar, India
contact email: 

American Comparative Literature Association 2019
Annual Conference CFP:

Does the Untranslated Travel?: Towards a Regional
World Literature

Organizer: Dr. Arka Chattopadhyay, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences,
IIT Gandhinagar (

Co-Organizer: Dr. Sourit Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social
Sciences, IIT Roorkee (

The session will delve into the possibility of treating untranslated regional literature across the
world as world literature and hence the titular question: does the untranslated travel? The
predominant framework of ‘world literature’ is premised on translation where only translated
texts travel across cultures to be worthy of the appellation, world literature. Against the grain
of this Anglocentric and monolingual edifice, the seminar suggests that even an untranslated
text can travel and become an important case study for world literature, if it addresses questions
that go beyond regional, ethnic and national boundaries to echo transcultural experiences and
motifs. The inherently multilingual literary cultures of South Asia, for example, extend this
point about vernacularizing world literature as a political mode of reading.

At a deeper level, we have to ask, what language we perceive our ‘worlds’ in. If a
regional subject thinks in a regional language, which is one of the many languages spoken in
her nation and acquires a notion of the world in that tongue, the literature, she composes, has
an appeal to her understanding of the world. Is the resultant text an instance of world literature?
This is a question about the coupling of language and the subjective and cultural/material
experience of ‘worlding.’ How is the ‘world’ of world literature different from regional content
to a normatively Anglophone material? We will also displace the notions of travel and
circulation, endemic to world literature, from the plane of language to that of idea and matter.
In other words, can ideas travel across cultures without linguistic translation? Can matters or
material situations expressed in ideas be ‘worldly’?

For example, a text which is rooted in the material specificity of a particular region and
written in a regional language, can still have a material extension into the ‘world.’ How is this
regionally grounded arrival at the notion of the ‘world’ different from an Anglophone
translation, deemed as world literature in the standard sense of the term? When the region
travels to the world or inheres the world within itself, or better still, makes an inductive gesture
towards the world, it is a materiality that travels and circulates without their being any linguistic
translation. These points beg the question whether an untranslated regional text, marked by a
trans-national idea or materiality can be significant in a discussion of world literature. The
session hopes to tackle the varied nuances of this question through readings of untranslated
regional literatures from across the world.

Some possible topics could be:

The Region in World Literature

Worlds of World Literature

World Literature and the Untranslated

Regional Literature and World Literature

World Literature and Travel of Ideas

World Literature and Material Production

Spatiality and World Literature

World Literature and Monolingualism

World Literature, Transnationalism, and Multiculturalism

Those interested in presenting are requested to e-mail 250-word abstracts to the organizers by
September 20, 2018