Women in Translation Month 2022: A Philosophical Exploration

Welcome to Women in Translation Month 2022! Eight years ago, blogger and academic Meytal Radzinski took a critical look at the publishing landscape and noticed that the world of translated literature was heavily male-dominated. Works by women authors made up less than 30 percent of the books translated into English. Reflecting on this gender disparity and wanting to create change, Radzinski started Women in Translation Month, which has grown into a global movement that celebrates the voices of women writers worldwide.

This August, we invite you to join us on an exploration of philosophical works from Italy in Embodying Art, Germany with Praxis and Revolution, and France in Young Foucault. We end the celebration with a chapter excerpt from a biographical novel from Korea, Who Ate Up All the Shinga?

We begin in Italy, where Chiara Cappelletto recasts the relationship between neuroscience and aesthetics and calls for shifting the focus of inquiry from the brain itself to personal experience in the world. Tracing the intertwined histories of brain science and aesthetic theory, Embodying Art offers a strikingly original and profound philosophical account of the human brain as a living artifact.

In her post, Chiara Cappelletto offers an intimate look at how she and translator Samuel Fleck collaborated on this English translation, including sometimes becoming “sparring partners” for the sake of the work. She discloses how Embodying Art “became an exercise in intellectual trust,” and that the collaboration  involved “determining what was conceivable through the interstices of two competing languages and writing styles.” Check in on Tuesday, August 9, to read more about the translation process.

Next, we head to Germany, where Eva von Redecker reconsiders critical theory’s understanding of radical change in order to offer a bold new account of how revolution occurs. In Praxis and Revolution, she argues that revolutions are not singular events but extended processes: beginning from the interstices of society, they succeed by gradually rearticulating social structures toward a new paradigm.

Check back on Tuesday, August 16, to read a lively interview between translator Lucy Duggan and Eva von Redecker in which they discuss this translated work as a “wild dinner party of a political theory book.” Focusing on the assembly of characters, styles, and registers, this piece showcases how the author often acted as a “hostess,” bringing disparate theorists together, and the translator moved “between dramatic interpretations of literary texts and rigorous discussions of praxis theory,” becoming herself the “hostess” of the American party.

Rounding out our tour of Western Europe will be a stopover in France, where Elisabetta Basso offers a groundbreaking and in-depth analysis of Foucault’s Lille manuscripts that sheds new light on the origins of his philosophical project. In the 1950s, long before his ascent to international renown, Michel Foucault published a scant few works. His early writings on psychology, psychopathology, and anthropology have been dismissed as immature.

However, recently discovered manuscripts from the mid-1950s, when Foucault was a lecturer at the University of Lille, testify to the significance of the work that the philosopher produced in the years leading up to the “archaeological” project he launched with History of Madness.

Check back on Tuesday, August 23, for a piece by translator Marie Satya McDonough about how her experience in translation helps in the classroom.

We’ll close out the month on the other side of the globe with Park Wan-suh’s Who Ate Up All the Shinga? In this extraordinary account of growing up during the Japanese occupation of Korea and the Korean War, a time of great oppression, deprivation, and social and political instability, Park describes the characters and events that shaped her young life.

On Tuesday, August 30, we’ll post an excerpt from chapter 2, “Seoul, So Far Away,” in which Park provides a detailed account of her journey from her childhood home to the bustling city of Seoul. She chronicles the barrage of emotions that accompany leaving behind a place of comfort and moving into an entirely new world.

Check out our featured list of titles authored by women and translated into English.

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