Reading notes 11/29

General note: Looks as though the articles was published in 1998, and it generally strikes me as a having a very distinct ’90’s’ flavor to it, both specifically in regards to feminism and the humanities more generally.  Concepts of essentialism and ‘identity politics’ are obviously still quite a big part of the discourse, but here they are used without all the baggage they have accumulated over nearly two decades.

p. 4 …it is beginning to explore what theorist Alice Parker (1 993) has tentatively termed polysexual and multigendered approaches to translation.” These two terms aren’t really unpacked or brought up again as far as I see. I would have liked to get a little more about this.

‘survival strategy’- This also is not much unpacked. Seems to be a reference to ways that marginalized groups ‘survive’, though what exactly this metaphor denotes is unclear to me. It is a provocative phrasing, but the stakes aren’t made clear and this seems to cheapen its use. i.e. using a word like ‘survival’ is going to cause some people to roll their eyes–that doesn’t mean its not true or shouldn’t be used, but highlighting the stakes implied in the word choice would give it more weight. (Of course, the implied audience of a piece like this may be those for whom such unpacking in unnecessary; perhaps also it is a term of the art within a given academic or cultural community functioning as a kind of shibboleth.)

p.5 “But univocity and consensus also shut down development.” Agreed, which is why the dated aspects of the piece are even more disappointing. There is so much casual theory strewn about with the unintentional implications of consensus

 Identity Politics- Odd to see the term used in a neutral sense. It seems even those who would agree with Flotow’s sense of it here avoid the term today, where it has become a pejorative, denoting tokenism for a subset of the left and ‘reverse racism’/political correctness for the right.

On the question of translation and activism-This is pretty interesting to me. What exactly would a-political translating look like? It seems like you can’t avoid it entirely (and we probably shouldn’t act like we can), but such a stance also seems able to countenance indifference. Going off of the examples from the article: it is one thing to enhance the rhetoricity of the feminist strain in a work and entirely another to remove anti-feminist or patriarchal elements. But what is the guiding principle here? I see these two as being on different sides of some line, but I can’t honestly account for how I draw it.

Autobiographical approach-The lengthy qualifiers seem to be out of fashion in the academy (or at least literary studies), but have gained popularity in wider culture particularly on left-leaning social media. I wonder how well this approach had aged. It often seems ossified. i.e. more of signaling gesture of belonging to a certain group (usually some general notion of the progressive left) than an attempt to actually acknowledge the way that ones identity impacts what one is going to say. It is also often deployed as a marker of authority or right (i.e. that it is permissible for one to speak on a given topic).

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