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Thursday, October 29 • 3:45pm - 5:00pm
“They Don’t Need to Know”: Translation and Cultural Exceptionalism

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“Foreigners don’t need to know that” is a refrain often heard in the process of translating literature from South Korea. It implies that some parts of a text are superfluous, but it also presumes that there are some things that “foreigners cannot know.” The assumption that some cultural content can only be understood by a domestic audience, or that other audiences could not possibly comprehend these cultural specifics invites certain questions: Why bother to translate at all? Who can translate? And are some target languages more receptive (or less foreign) than others?
This roundtable discusses the notion of literary texts as hermetically sealed containers of cultural identities and examines how the hyper-mobility of bodies and ideas has affected South Korean literature, its translation, and reception. If local culture is opaque, what, as translators and transmitters are we to make of writing that imagines multiple cultural perspectives? Our panel of translators, scholars, and publishers of Korean literature from the early 20th century to the present will share their experiences and thoughts on Korean literature from different periods, particularly regarding the representation of race, exclusion/inclusion, and essentialism in the institutional and individual selection of texts bound for translation.


Thursday October 29, 2015 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Canyon B

Attendees (5)