Translating America/America Translated


Translating America/America Translated: A UC Faculty-Graduate Symposium

This symposium on new hemispheric geographies and languages for American literary studies returns to historical moments that allow a reconsideration of language crossings as geographic alternatives to nation-bound paradigms. A 1998 conference on American empire at UC Santa Cruz produced groundbreaking work that has since become foundational, shifting the study of American cultures irrevocably away from an Atlantic-centered narrative of national development, and correspondingly toward languages other than English. Now, twenty years later, we revisit a once radically revisionist geo-timeline, dating to the 1998 centennial of the Spanish-American-Cuban War and recasting the history of US empire back from Cuba 1898 to an earlier time and place in the border treaty with Mexico in 1848. Critically examining the state of the discipline today, this symposium looks back still earlier: to the later eighteenth-century suturing of colonial to national studies that has proven exceptionally fruitful for scholars working across indigenous and multiple European colonial languages. Just as California’s demographic diversity prefigures that of the future United States at large, the University of California is rich in the human resources needed to re-invent a usable past for American cultural and literary studies.

Project Directors:

Susan Gillman, Literature, UC Santa Cruz
Kirsten Gruesz, Literature, UC Santa Cruz



February 22, 2019: Translating America/America Translated Symposium Day 1
February 23, 2019: Translating America/America Translated Symposium Day 2



The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz
Friday-Saturday February 22-23, 2019

“Translating America/America Translated” is a two-day faculty-graduate student symposium on new hemispheric geographies and languages in pre-20th-century American literary studies. The symposium is funded by UCHRI and co-sponsoring units at UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego. Highlighting translation, multilinguality and the transnational as indispensable features of literary studies today, the “Translating America/America Translated” symposium aims to re-situate scholarly and public narratives of American culture by way of multiple languages and various origin-points in space and time. It aims to move forward an important national conversation on the future of the field in its multilingual and multi-geographic dimensions and seeks to build a cohort of early-career comparative Americanist scholars. We request applications from early-stage and advanced graduate in various fields, including English, Romance Languages, Comparative Literature, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, History, and American Studies.

Students may apply either to deliver a conference paper or to participate in symposium events, including a Friday journal publication workshop with Gordon Hutner, editor of American Literary History. Travel costs and two nights of housing in Santa Cruz (shared rooms) will be reimbursed, and meals will be provided during the conference. Please note that only currently enrolled students at a UC campus are eligible to apply.

The keynote speakers, who will also comment on graduate student work, will include six prominent scholars of hemispheric American studies: Jesse Alemán (Professor of English and American Studies, Univ. of New Mexico); Anna Brickhouse (Professor of English and Director of American Studies, Univ. of Virginia); Michelle Burnham (Professor of English, Santa Clara University); Sara Johnson (Associate Professor of Literature of the Americas, UC San Diego); Rodrigo Lazo (Professor of English and Spanish and Director, Humanities Core Program, UC Irvine); and Ifeoma Nwankwo (Associate Professor of English and Associate Provost, Vanderbilt University).

Potential topics for papers, which may dovetail with keynote talks, include language and print culture, translation and transmission in relation to racial encounters, the importance of slave revolts/national revolutions in the US and the French Caribbean, New York and other Atlantic cities, comparative independence movements and print cultures, the Spanish empire’s military and mission outposts in the Pacific, indigenous cultures of California, the persistence of U.S. empire, and the Hispanophone and Francophone character of the print culture in Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans and elsewhere. While the conference will focus on periods up to and including 1898, papers may develop transtemporal comparisons with later material. We seek submissions that describe new archival sources, share methodological approaches, and articulate new visions on the future of the field.

Students may apply either to deliver a paper or to participate fully in the workshop and the symposium discussions. Successful applicants will be expected to be able to arrive in Santa Cruz before noon on Friday, February 22, to stay through closing event on the evening of Saturday, February 23, and to commit to attending every symposium activity.

Applications to present should include a 250-word abstract with a cover letter and CV, along with a brief endorsement (1-page maximum) from the student’s faculty advisor.
Applications to participate as listener/discussants should include a cover letter describing the student’s relevant research interests and a brief endorsement (1-page maximum) from your faculty advisor.

The faculty endorsement letter should be sent via email to Susan Gillman [] and Kirsten Silva Gruesz [].

Applications are due by midnight Friday, November 16, 2018. Participants and presenters will be selected with an eye to ensuring representation from all UC campuses if possible, and to balancing fields of interest. All applicants will be notified by December 1, 2018.

Direct questions to the symposium co-conveners, Susan Gillman [] and Kirsten Silva Gruesz [] at UC Santa Cruz.

Application deadline is November 16, 2018.



“Translating America/American Translated” is hosted and staffed by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz, with financial support from the University of California Institute for Humanities Research (UCHRI); the Siegfried B. and Elisabeth Mignon Puknat Endowment in Literary Studies and the Division of Graduate Studies at UC Santa Cruz; the Humanities Core Program at UC Irvine; and the Black Studies Project at the Humanities Center at UC San Diego.


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