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Economies of Translation: Between Transaction and Resistance. Jacques Derrida’s “What is a ‘relevant’ translation?” Workshop and Lecture


Workshop 16:15-17:45

What is a 'relevant' translation? Working with Derrida

Derrida's "What is a 'relevant' translation?" adopts a performative take on translation that draws on the poetic function of language. Comparing its English and German translations, the workshop will focus on the different translational approaches to performance and poetry in this theoretical text.

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Lecture 18:00-19:30

Economies of Translation: Between Transaction and Resistance. Jacques Derrida’s “What is a ‘relevant’ translation?”

In his text "What is a 'relevant' translation?”, Derrida reads Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice to analyse the premises underlying the conventional translation paradigm which privileges 'the meaning' over 'the letter'. Drawing on Shakespeare's critical representation of anti-Judaism, Derrida elaborates on the economies of convertibility and the logic of conversion that informs this paradigm, and on its inherent power hierarchies. The talk will put special emphasis on elements of resistance against these economies in Derrida's reading.

Dr. Caroline Sauter teaches Comparative Literature at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her work focuses on translation, translation theory and literary theory, and on the interconnection between literature and theology, particularly in German-Jewish thought. Caroline is the author of a monograph on Walter Benjamin’s translation philosophy (Die virtuelle Interlinearversion, 2014) an numerous scholarly articles, and the co-editor of several books. Her translation into German and edition of Jacques Derrida’s “Qu’est-ce qu’une traduction ‘relevante’?”, together with Esther von der Osten, has recently been published with Transcript. She is currently completing a book manuscript about the biblical Song of Songs (shir ha-shirim) in (post)modern (literary) theory, focusing on Goethe, Herder, Scholem, Rosenzweig, Kristeva, and Cixous. Caroline has studied in Düsseldorf (HHU, Dipl.-Literaturübersetzerin) and Paris (Paris III, Licence, Maîtrise), completed her graduate studies in Munich (LMU, Dr.phil.), and has held academic positions in Berlin (ZfL), Frankfurt (Goethe University), and Cambridge (Mass.) (Harvard). In 2017/18, she held a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at Harvard University. She is a fellow of the Johanna Quandt Young Academy at Goethe (since 2023).

Dr. Esther von der Osten teaches Comparative Literature at Peter Szondi Institute, Freie Universität Berlin. She studied Comparative Literature and Art History in Berlin and Paris, taught at Bayreuth University and FU Berlin (2001-2011) and worked as a freelance translator (2011-2019). She translates and researches literature and philosophy: Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Translation Theory, Literature and Disability, Poetics of Deconstruction. Together with Franziska Humphreys and Cornelia Ortlieb, she has recently organised a collective translation project for Paulin Ismard’s edited volume Welten der Sklaverei (Berlin 2023). Recent publications:

  • “Aus einem Halstuch einen fish machen. Inner- und zwischensprachliche Übersetzung in H. Cixous Hyperrêve.” In: Cornelia Ortlieb (ed.), Literarische Mehrsprachigkeit und Übersetzung. Themenheft GRM 1.2024
  • “Im Hör-Spielraum: Transkription als Zwischen-Genre, am Beispiel eines Vortrags von Jean-Luc Nancy.” In: Niels Lehnert, Ina Schenker and Andreas Wicke (eds), Gehörte Geschichten: Phänomene des Auditiven. Berlin, Boston 2022, pp. 77-90 
  • Was ist eine 'relevante' Übersetzung? Arbeiten mit Derrida, trans. and ed., together with Caroline Sauter, Bielefeld 2022
  • Hélène Cixous, Algériance. Dekonstruktion des Kolonialen. With a preface by Peggy Kamuf (trans. and ed., preface translated by Sabine Voss), Wien 2024
  • Hélène Cixous, 1938, Nächte (trans.) Wien Passagen 2024
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