Trans;form Symposium: Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew in Comparative Literature

On Thursday and Friday November 29-30, 2018, the Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew (PATH+) Focal Group hosted a symposium titled, “Trans;form: Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew in Comparative Literature.” This two-day event convened graduate students and scholars from the Stanford community and beyond to address the question of how Comparative Literature is shaped by consideration of Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, and Urdu. Co-hosted by Dr. Alexander Key (Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, Stanford) and graduate student Shoshana Olidort (Comparative Literature, Stanford), “Trans;form” featured Dr. Emily Apter as keynote participant (Silver Professor of French and Comparative Literature, NYU).

Now in its third year as a Focal Group, PATH+ has hosted a variety of events, primarily workshops. Shoshana Olidort serves as the group’s graduate student coordinator, with Dr. Key as faculty chair. “Trans;form” was the first symposium PATH+ has hosted. The symposium comprised comprised four sessions, two per day, in which panelists gave a presentation on pre-circulated papers and offered a brief response to other panelists, followed by an open discussion among all in attendance. This arrangement gave the event a highly collaborative feel, as participants and panelists bridged disciplinary boundaries in their debates. The final session was a Translation Workshop, in which attendees broke into small groups to experiment with translating poetry entries in the Dictionary of Untranslatables (Ed. Barbara Cassin) into the symposium’s featured languages, an exercise designed to elicit discussion of how that translation process might inform a re-writing of the entries into English.

Beyond the lively conversation that took place during the symposium itself, participants have the opportunity to contribute to contribute to a Colloquy on Arcade, the digital literary salon. Colloquies are a regular Arcade feature in which “a curator selects from a variety of intellectual work in different modes — journal articles, book chapters, multimedia recordings, and blog posts — to assemble a conversation.” For the PATH+ Colloquy, Alexander Key will serve as curator, with assistance from graduate student Victoria Zurita (Comparative Literature, Stanford). Conference participants have been invited to submit work, which will be combined with other outputs from the group’s activity over the last few years.
Learn more about Arcade here, and check back for the forthcoming PATH+ Colloquy.
-Cortney Hamilton