Conference: "The Life of Tamil Literature in Translation: Histories and Controversies"

This two-day international conference will be devoted to the state and status of Tamil literature in translation. Translation in the academy in general occupies a very troubled category. Despite the emphasis that is placed on language acquisition across humanities and social science disciplines, translation is often viewed as second-level intellectual work; as more of a “craft” than as true intellectual activity. Yet, in area studies fields, translations of literary texts are crucial components of our curricula – we cannot teach without them, nor can many of us conduct fieldwork without thinking about “translation” and how it acts as a constant mediating device between “scholars” and their “subjects.” This conference will address issues of translation in terms of its historical specificity and its social ramifications. Participants in this conference will include scholars from the fields of philology and classics and who also write on issues of translation and its relationship to ethnography and the social sciences, and translators of emerging literatures, such as Dalit fiction and poetry, who often grapple with problems of genre, voice, and representation. A special roundtable discussion among several well-known Tamil authors and the translators of their works will be a key feature of this conference.

Online resource guide


E. Annamalai, University of Chicago
Matthew Baxter, Harvard University
David Buck, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College
Sascha Ebeling, University of Chicago
George Hart, University of California, Berkeley
D. Dilip Kumar, Author
C. S. Lakshmi, Author and Director, Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women, Mumbai
Preetha Mani, Rutgers University
Perumal Murugan, Arinar Anna Government Arts College, Attur
Srilata Raman, University of Toronto
Martha Ann Selby, University of Texas at Austin
Perundevi Srinivasan, Siena College
Aniruddhan Vasudevan, University of Texas at Austin
Rebecca Whittington, University of California, Berkeley

Saturday, September 16th

Session 3 Martha Ann Selby, UT-Austin, Chair

10-10:45 AM: “The Death and Rebirth of an Author”
    Perumal Murugan, Author, Arinar Anna Government Arts College, Attur

10:45-11:30 AM: “How Untranslatability Became a Cornerstone of Modernist Tamil Literature”
Preetha Mani, Rutgers University

11:30 AM-12:15 PM: “Textual Strategies and ‘Translatorial Hexis’: Gendered Voices in Asokamittiran”
Perundevi Srinivasan, Siena College

12:15-12:30 PM: Break

12:30-1:30 PM: Lunch

Session 4: Elaine Craddock, Southwestern University, Chair

1:30-2:15 PM: “On Non-Brahmin vs. Gandhian Renderings of Self-Respect during the 1920s: Tamil Translation as Political Theory”
Matthew Baxter, Harvard University

2:15-3 PM: “Attention in Tamil Dialect Writing: Translating Kanmani Gunasekaran’s Fiction”
Rebecca Whittington, University of California-Berkeley

3:00-3:15 PM: Tea break

3:15-4 PM: General discussion/Q&A

4:00-6:00 PM: Break

6:00-7:30 PM: Readings of translations by George Hart, Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Perumal Murugan, Martha Ann Selby, and others

Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 10:00am to 7:30pm

Will C. Hogg Building (WCH), 4.118 (Meyerson Conference Room)
120 INNER CAMPUS DR, Austin, Texas 78712

Event Type

Academics, Arts & Humanities, World & Culture


College of Liberal Arts

Target Audience

Students, Faculty, Alumni


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