Journal Special Issue - Untranslatability: Theory, Practice and Politics

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (JCLA)
contact email: 

(Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 2021) 

Untranslatability: Theory, Practice and Politics

CONCEPT NOTE: Translation is an activity that marks the differences which surface in cross-cultural encounters. It seeks to negotiate these inevitable differences to help us understand language-cultures that are (not) ours, or comprehend an ‘other’ who is (not) us. The non-negotiable differences then draw us to the titular question, “How does the pursuit of finding an equivalence fare in this process?”. It is in these gaps of translation that we encounter the untranslatable, that which cannot be comprehended or translated. Amidst the ongoing discussions around World Literature, that thrives on translation, untranslatability disrupts the presumed coherence in the very process and makes us aware of the irreducible differences latent within alternate ways of expression.

This Special Issue aims to initiate a discussion on the various tenets of Untranslatability: epistemological, semiotic and aesthetic concerns that shall enable us to understand translation; the process and it’s philosophy in a nuanced and novel manner.

Untranslatability, which has long been studied as an obstacle or a hurdle in the act of translation; needs to be approached from alternate trajectories that see it as a leeway enabling the indigenous and vernacular discourses to retain the exclusive differences that mark the identity of their language-cultures. Can we study this “right to untranslatability” as a way of resisting the Anglocentric, monolingual way of perceiving World Literature, by asking questions pertaining to what constitutes the world and the region, the global and the local? This raises further questions on how we understand and see the world, which is inescapably tied to the language-culture(s) we are a part of. The problems locating the ‘world’ in “World Literature” and the importance for ‘regions’ and vernacular discourses to mark their presence within the ‘world’ along with discussions around the trajectory and reception of regional and vernacular texts and genres as they travel across the world are welcome. What happens to the untranslated texts and the untranslatable ideas in the niche of World Literature is an aspect this issue seeks to engage with. The problem of a myopic view of World Literature, and the epistemic violence induced in the process of translation which is baked by a social and political power shall be addressed. It shall also focus on the formation of ‘untranslatable’ and initiate a semiotic study of language, its use, the process of meaning making within a language and the signs and symbols particular to a language-culture. The importance of studying the notion of referentiality in language and its immense contribution in understanding the roots of untranslatability shall be another crucial line of inquiry.

The special issue on Untranslatability invites research papers, articles and book reviews which focus on, but are not limited to the following sub themes to justify the relevance and scope of the issue:

1. Translation as a Cross-Cultural Transaction
2. Negotiating Differences across Language-cultures
3. Self/Other in Translation
4. Problems in Translation
5. Formation of Untranslatable
6. Politics of Untranslatability
7. Language and Meaning Making
8. World Literature and Regional Literatures
9. Indigenous Narratives
10. Traveling Genres Across Frontiers
11. Epistemological Concerns of World Literature
12. Vernacularization of World Literature
13. ‘World’ in World Literature
14. ‘Region’ within the ‘World’
15. Dialectics of Global and Local
16. Signs, Symbols and Referentiality
17. Aesthetic concerns of Untranslatability
18. Interminability of Translation 

Guest Editor: Deepshikha Behera, Department of English Literature (School of Literary Studies), The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, INDIA

Guidelines: All the papers must be sent to Last date of submission: 30 October 2020. Final date of intimation: 10 November 2020. Format/ Font: MS Word in Times New Roman (MLA 8th Edition). Endnotes are preferred over footnotes as they are easier to process. All the papers must be original, unpublished and written within 3600-5000 words. An abstract in 150-250 words and 4-5 keywords should be embedded within the paper. Each paper should include a cover letter suggesting the name of the author, along with a brief bio, not exceeding 50 words. The name of the author and co-author (if any) must not be written or suggested anywhere except the cover letter. The paper should be original and must have a proper bibliography and work cited section. An acknowledgment shall be sent upon receipt. Any suggested revisions by the editor and peer reviewers must be returned in two weeks without delay. Simultaneous submissions are not allowed.