2015-2016 Najita Distinguished Lecture

Tawada Yoko
Where Literature Begins: The Practice and Poetics of Multilingual Address

March 7, 2016
International House
1414 E 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637

Sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies, the Global Voices Program at International House, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Department of Germanic Studies.

"Where Literature Begins: The Practice and Poetics of Multilingual Address" is a symposium that addresses the ethical and creative stakes of translation and multilingual address. Presenters will include scholars from the fields of Japanese, Germans, and Comparative Literature. While many of the papers will engage in some fashion with the work of our keynote speaker, the conference is not intended as a Tawada Yōko conference per se. Instead, presenters will set her work in dialogue with that of other writers and translators, exploring topics that illuminate the issue of translation as a creative practice.

Keynote Speaker

Life or Person: Which is More Important?

TAWADA Yōko has won many of Japan's major literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Itō Sei Prize, the Tanizaki Junichirō Prize, the Izumi Kyōka Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, etc. She is also a celebrated author of German literature and literary nonfiction, and the recipient of a number of prestigious German literary prizes, including the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (1996), awarded to an author whose writing is shaped by migration and cultural change, and the Goethe Medal (2005). She holds a Ph.D. in German Literature from the University of Zurich. Tawada’s fiction frequently explores the crevasses and gaps between languages, capturing modes of experience that exceed the grasp of any single national language. Representative works available in English translation include The Bridegroom Was a Dog (2002), Where Europe Begins (2002), Facing the Bridge (2007) and The Naked Eye (2009).


Monday, March 7
10:00am    Panel 1       

Papers by Bettina Brandt (Penn State) and Yasemin Yildiz (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Discussant: Andrew Leong (Northwestern). Chair: Michael Bourdaghs.

12:00pm    Lunch, hosted by the Department of Germanic Studies
1:30pm      Panel 2

Papers by Brett de Bary (Cornell) and J. Keith Vincent (Boston University). Discussant: Na’ama Rokem. Chair: Sonali Thakkar.

4:30pm     Distinguished Najita Lecture in Japanese Studies

Tawada Yoko

6:30pm     Reception, hosted by the Japan Committee and Center for
                  East Asian Studies

Conference Participants & Presentation Titles

The Politics of Form: Avant-garde Aesthetics as Political Intervention in Yoko Tawada's German Writings

Bettina BRANDT grew up in Germany, the Netherlands and in French-speaking Belgium. She received MA degrees in French and German from the University of Utrecht and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Brandt taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University and Montclair State before joining the faculty of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include the literatures and theories of the historical and the neo avant-garde(s); the literatures of migration; literary multilingualism and translation studies; German-Jewish Studies, and global early modern relations. She has published articles and book chapters on the above topics and recently also co-edited two volumes: Herta Müller. Politics and Aesthetics (together with V. Glajar, University of Nebraska Press, 2013) and China in the German Enlightenment (together with D. Purdy, forthcoming with the University of Toronto Press in the Spring of 2016). Brandt is now putting the final touches on Cutting Out. Radical Figures on the Move,  a book-length study about the writings of Yōko Tawada, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Herta Müller  in which she examines the complex and strategic relations between these contemporary experimental multilingual writers in German and the aesthetics of the historical avant-gardes.

Ideographic, Alphabetic, Hanseatic, and other Alliances in Tawada Yoko's Borudo no gikei (A Brother-in-Law in Bordeaux)

Brett DE BARY is Professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She has been Director of Cornell’s Visual Studies Program (2000-2003), and of Cornell’s Society for the Humanities (2003-2008; 2013-2014).  With Rebecca Jennison, she has recently translated and edited Lee Chong Hwa’s Still Hear the Wound, a series of essays on the work of artists Ito Tari, Oh Haji, Soni Kum, Yamashiro Chikako and others (Cornell East Asia Series, 2015). Other publications include “Looking at Foreign Skies, Desperately Seeking Post-Asia: Soni Kum, Oshima Nagisa, Ri Chin-u” in Asian Cinema (2015), and  “World Literature in the Shadow of Translation: Reconsidering Tawada Yōko,” in Translation/Transmediation: A Special Issue of Poetica, edited by Atsuko Sakaki (Yushōdō, 2012), She is editor of "Universities in Translation: The Mental Labor of Globalization," Volume 5 of Traces: A Multilingual Series of Cultural Theory and Translation (Hong Kong UP, 2010) and co-editor with Naoki Sakai and Iyotani Toshio of Deconstructing Nationality (Cornell University East Asia Series, 2005).

“Where Haiku Begins: Masaoka Shiki and Social Media"

J. Keith VINCENT’s research focuses on modern Japanese literature, queer theory, translation, and the novel. He is the author of Two-Timing Modernity: Homosocial Narrative in Modern Japanese Fiction(Harvard Asia Center, 2012). With Alan Tansman, he is the editor of Sōseki Great and Small (Tai-shō no Sōseki), a “mini” special issue of the Japanese journal Bungaku (Nov-Dec, 2014).  He is also editing, with Tasman and Reiko Abe Auestad, two forthcoming volumes on Sōseki, in English and Japanese.  His translation of Okamoto Kanoko’s A Riot of Goldfish (Hesperus Press,  2010) won the 2011 U.S. Japan Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, and his translation of Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novella Devils in Daylight is forthcoming from New Directions. He is the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature at Boston University.

Writing for Translation: Yoko Tawada and Aras Ören’s Postmonolingual Poetics

Yasemin YILDIZ is Associate Professor of German and Conrad Humanities Scholar at the University of Illinois. Prof. Yildiz specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century German literature and culture with research interests in literary multilingualism, minority discourses (especially Turkish-German and German-Jewish), transnational studies, and gender studies. Her book Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition won the MLA’s 2012 Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures and received Honorable Mention for the 2014 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies. She is currently working on a co-authored study of immigrants and Holocaust remembrance in contemporary Germany together with Michael Rothberg.