March 1: IASH Fellows’ Speaker Series presents Giovanna Montenegro (Comp Lit and Romance Languages)

Join us Wednesday March 1 at 12pm in the IASH Conference Room (LN 1106, next to the LT elevators) for Dr. Giovanna Montenegro’s talk “German Bankers and the Conquest of Venezuela: Cultural Memory of ‘Heretic’ Capital and Colonization.”

Abstract: I seek to decipher fictional and historical texts that recreate the sixteenth-century German conquest of Venezuela by the Welsers, bankers from Augsburg. In particular, I analyze the cultural memory of the Welser period from a German perspective.  In the German Imperial era and the early twentieth-century we see a proliferation of publications that manifest desire for lost colony (ies). “Venezuela” became a symbol for Germany’s enduring colonial desires, though this time the colonial utopia would take place in Africa. In the twentieth century, historians and novelists writing within Nationalist Socialism in Germany from 1938 to 1944 interpret the Welser period in a manner that further builds the image of the Aryan conquistador planting the seed of German nationhood on the American continent. The main subject is not the failure of the Welser colony; rather it is the honor of the German people and the myth of the grandness of the German nation that prevails.


Feb 28: Dean’s Speaker Series in New Directions in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies presents Timothy Murray

Join us Tuesday February 28 12-1pm in LN2200 (Dean’s Conference Room)

Sponsored by the Dean’s Speaker Series and the Comparative Literature department


(Re)Reading: Navigating space|time|frontiers the Ninth Graduate Conference in Literature, Politics, and Aesthetics

Still accepting applications through Feb. 20!
Conference to be held March 31-April 1 at the UDC
Abstracts accepted for conference presentation will also be considered for publication in the inaugural issue of an academic journal established by comparative literature graduate students and faculty at Binghamton University.

Keynote Speaker: Cecilia Konchar Farr, Chair of English, Carondelet Scholar, and professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University. She is the author of Reading Oprah (SUNY Press, 2005) & The Ulysses Delusion: Rethinking Standards of Literary Merit (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

The question and experience of reading becomes more and more urgent as we rethink modes and practices of reading.  How do our current practices dissolve, shift, or reinforce master narratives of disciplinary reading? How does the text resist imposition of borders, methods, and normalization?

The ninth Graduate Conference in Literature, Politics, and Aesthetics at Binghamton University invites proposals for papers, panels, and roundtables regarding reading practices and the fixing of texts into categories.  This conference seeks to interrogate different notions, methods, theories, and practices of reading.  How does the text prompt us to revise our methods?  How do authors and texts resist simple or neat classification, and what, if anything, do we do about it?  Methods such as close reading [New Criticism], detached reading [David Damrosch], and distant reading [Franco Moretti] propose ways of approaching texts — yet what do these look like in practice?  What is the state of reading (in) academic disciplines [Gayatri Spivak]?  Possible proposals are welcome from all disciplines that rely and reflect on reading as a critical exercise; proposals may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Practices and modes of reading [detached, distant reading; explication de texte]
  • Discipline-specific reading/reading the discipline
  • Questioning world literature
  • Reading (through/in) translation; translation as a product of reading
  • Pre-, post-, neo-, colonial reading
  • Recovering and rereading lost stories/storytelling [e.g., Walter Benjamin]
  • Reading the oral/aural text
  • Political construction of bodies and narratives [collective or communal]
  • Reading the visual [including maps, emoji, memes/gifs]

This Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m., join recent Comparative Lit alumna Dr. Natalia Andrievskikh for a talk on the collective digital storytelling project, The Afterlife of Discarded Objects, at Cooperative Gallery, 213 State St., Binghamton. Light refreshments will be provided. See poster for details!

Natalias gallery talk

Graduate Student Activities-Badreddine Ben Othman



Badreddine will be attending the 2016 edition of the Institute for World Literature, which will take place at Harvard University this summer.

This Spring, Badredinne presented a paper entitled “Writing Queer Desire in Abdallah Taia, Rachid O, and Hisham Tahir’s novels” in the conference, “Queer Justice: Struggles and Strategies” at Ohio University.

In the last two decades, a pioneering wave of openly gay Maghrebian novelists has emerged depicting the struggles of assuming an exclusively “gay identity;” in Arab-Muslim societies. Writers like Abdellah Tai, Rachid O and Hicham Tahir engaged in a literary project aiming at breaking the intolerably irritating silence surrounding homosexuality in the Maghreb. Although homosexuality is palpably present in Arab-Muslim societies of the Maghreb, there is nonetheless an intolerance in regards with their open discussion. Even on a purely discursive level, taboo remains an insurmountable hurdle for many gay individuals. Nevertheless, the characters of Taia, O and Tahir’s novels transgress the aforementioned socio- religious restrictions by suggesting a discourse that seeks to reconcile their queer desires and their spiritual beliefs. In this discussion, I will highlight the difficulty that the narrator-protagonists of the three writers experience in assuming their sexuality in an interstitial space between a cherished yet homophobic Maghreb and a more liberal but hostile French milieu. I will also explore the stakes surrounding the use of French by the Maghrebian writers who instead of using Arabic, opt to use another language that does not denigrate their queer sexuality and construct it in pejorative terms. In this study, I will draw on the theoretical postulations of Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lise Gauvin and Svetlana Boym who reflected on the transnational queer identity construction and its rapport with space and language.

Badreddine  started translating a manuscript of Tunisian poet Moncef Mezgheni to English


Graduate Student Activities-Anastasiya Lyubas


From Left to Right: Anastasiya Lyubas with Binghamton University TRIP students Irem Ayan and Christiana Hills at the 2016  U-Mass Graduate Student Translation Studies Conference


Anastasiya received a full tuition waiver to attend the Uriel Weinreich Yiddish Summer Program and work in the archives of the YIVO Institute in New York City from June 27 until August 5, 2016.

Anastasiya has also presented her work at a number of conferences this Spring.

1-“Born Translated or at Home in the Unhomely: Linguistic Imaginations of Bruno Schulz and Yoko Tawada” at the Binghamton University German Studies Colloquium 2016: Dis-placements, Refuges and Other Cultural Belongings at the panel “Transnational Tawada” organized and moderated by Prof. Gisela Brinker-Gabler. The colloquium took place on April 15-16, 2016.


This paper examines the transnational and polylingual poetics of Schulz, a Polish-Jewish-Modernist (often referred to as the “Polish Kafka”) from eastern Galicia (now the western Ukraine). Schulz dwelt in languages both his and not entirely his own. In his Polish writings we read the lost mama-loshn of Yiddish as well as German and Ukrainian influences. Tawada, a contemporary German-Japanese writer, detached herself from Japan, but not entirely from Japanese, when she moved to Germany. With her oeuvre in both German and Japanese she defamiliarizes what it means to write in a “foreign” language and in one’s “mother tongue.” Through the comparison of strategies each author uses to make multilingualism visible and to trouble conventional notions of home as they explore travel, myth and bodily metamorphosis, I will identify key differences in the authors’ respective linguistic, historical and political contexts for writing. I will example the notion of the uncanny (das Unheimliche) in its broader sense as well as in its psychoanalytic conception and draw on the work of Yasemin Yildiz to consider what it means to be at home in language(s). To echo the work of Rebecca Walkowitz, this paper will ponder what it means for texts to be born translated.

2- “Translating Debora Vogel’s high Modernist collection of Prose Montage Acacias Bloom” at the University of Amherst Massachussets Graduate Student Translation Studies Conference, taking place April 23-24, 2016.


Debora Vogel, a Yiddish high modernist poet, philosopher and critic, lived in the interwar Poland and perished in Lvov ghetto during one of the so-called Nazi actions. Her tragic fate and the fact that she chose Yiddish as a mode for her highly innovative expression were some of the factors that contributed to her remaining largely unknown, especially for the English-speaking audiences. A native speaker of Polish, she was fluent in German and Hebrew, writing her early work in these languages. She chose to learn Yiddish as an adult, and published her two collections of poetry Day Figures (1930) and Mannequins (1934) in her non-native language (a politically and an aesthetically motivated choice), challenging the frameworks of cultural, ethnic and linguistic belonging. In 1935 she published a volume of her prose montage Acacias Bloom in Yiddish, with the same collection appearing in print in Polish translation a year later. An interesting example of self-translation akin to the bilingual operations of writers such as Nabokov and Beckett, the two versions of the book are not identical, with different sequences of chapters and other formal differences. The first post-war edition of this work in Polish appeared in 2005 and it takes into account the two first editions while supplementing them with the unpublished additional montages in Yiddish that were recovered from the archives.

The present undertaking by the author of this abstract is to translate Acacias Bloom into English, taking into account the history of the book, the skopos (its reception in Europe at the time with its contemporary reception in Europe and projected readership in the English-speaking world), as well as examining translation theories in regards to this specific translation practice. Besides the three mentioned editions of the book, this current translation is informed by the two recent anthologies of Vogel’s work in translation that were published in Germany and Ukraine, both in 2015, and also the writer’s own critical essays reflective of her principles that discuss her usage of geometric idiom (borrowed from the movements in visual arts, such as Cubism and Constructivism), repetition (similar to repetition in Gertrude Stein’s work), and “white words/grey words”(reminiscent of the considerations of Imagists and Vorticists), which all pose challenges for the translation process.

The issues that I have encountered in this translation process and which are present in this 8-page excerpt are determining the optimal syntax (preserving some aspects of syntax from the original that is useful for the rhythm and that creates stylistic devices, such as parallelism), translating repetition (some qualifiers, such as “sticky” are translated a few different ways, depending on the noun and the most fitting synonym for the collocation), paraphrasing whenever necessary. Vogel has a certain vocabulary, for which I want to create a glossary, with set collocations that are present both in her prose work and in her poetry. One example would be “squandered happiness”, which Debora Vogel repeats multiple times. Another challenge is thinking about translation concepts that are put in brackets, such as “life”, when the author tries to distance herself from the idea or points to a clichéd usage of the concept, as well as for other reasons.