Session Abstract: From the beginning of the modern era, translation has played a major role in the composition and reception of poetry in East Asia. A medium of intense experimentation in which boundaries between languages and cultures are simultaneously blurred and reified, translation has historically fueled the reconceptualization of poetry in China, Japan, and Korea—a process that continues to this day. This panel seeks to explore how translation in its various guises (direct, creative, mistranslation, etc.) has shaped the theorization, composition, and reception of poetry across modern and contemporary East Asia. Collectively, our papers demonstrate how East Asian poetry continues to be remade in conjunction with translation, both informed by and informing transcultural literary trends.
To begin, Liansu Meng investigates how the homosocial/homoerotic ideals of Walt Whitman were adapted to fit the male-dominated heterosexual culture of May Fourth and Socialist China by analyzing translations by Guo Morou and Xu Chi. Meanwhile, David Krolikoski argues that in colonial Korea, the poet and translator Kim Ŏk employed the translation of hansi into the 1940s as a medium to test his poetic theories and search for a proper form for modern Korean poetry. Next, Nick draws attention to how translation may function as an act of worlding in Chinese literature—informing the reader of not only the original text but also its context—through the examples of translations by Li Jinfa and Bei Dao. Finally, Scott Mehl scrutinizes the bilingual German-Japanese writer Yoko Tawada’s work from a translation studies angle by examining her engagement with the writings of the German-language poet Paul Celan.
Paper Presenter: Liansu Meng – University of Connecticut
Paper Presenter: David Krolikoski – University of Hawaii at Manoa
Paper Presenter: Nick Admussen – Cornell University
Paper Presenter: Scott Mehl – Colgate University