CTISS 2019 Research Seminar - Gabriela Saldhana (University of Birmingham)
Date: Wednesday 19th February 2020, 14:15 - 15:45
Title - Reviewing translations: Writing borders on sketchy maps
Literary landscapes are perspectival, time and subject-bound views of a particular literary field. Efforts to map landscapes rely on information that has gaps and grey areas; the maps may point to, but remain silent about the reasons for those gaps and grey areas. What I call, following Ingold (2007), ‘sketch maps’, are avowedly subjective but not necessarily less informative, since they also reveal the perspective from which they are drawn.
In this presentation I consider how sketch maps of distant literary fields may be created in the imagination of readers, focusing in particular on the role of book reviews as a particularly influential factor contributing to shape imagined literary landscapes. As opinion formers (Squires, 2009), reviewers direct the readers’ gaze towards certain aspects of the work reviewed and, in doing so, draw lines that end up shaping the contours of the sketch maps readers imagine.It is these traces, I argue here,that end up forming cultural and literary borders and thus defining what is literary, what is European, what is romance, what is Southeast Asian. A close reading of reviews of translated books can reveal how notions of culture are simplistically drawn connections that have, nevertheless, crucial consequences for the literary capital of different regions of the world.