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Research seminar: Daniel Nabil Maroun (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Subjectivity and Seropositivity: Retranslating Guillaume Dustan

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Location: Teams

Queer subjectivity is often thought of as fluid, nonlinear. Such a viewpoint suggests a plurality of subjectivity for protagonists that, I argue, aligns with recent scholarship on retranslation theory which views this process as a complex intersection of possible meanings for a text. I suggest however that retranslation reinforces queer subjectivity because both avoid teleological outcomes of their processes. Retranslation thus becomes a possible locus of the enunciation of subjectivity in the original text. Drawing on a retranslation of Guillaume Dustan’s Dans ma chambre, I argue that this process affords reader the opportunity to reexamine how Dustan intended to illustrate his existence in relation to his disease. Far from 'foreignizing' the text more as Berman (1990) purports, this exercise amplifies the author’s discursive traits which highlight queer HIV praxis of the mid-90s. The book is canonical to French HIV/AIDS literature and additionally to autofictional subjectivity, that is to say how the author defines his existence in relationship to his disease. This essay compares the 1998 Serpent’s Trail edition of In My Room to the 2021 Semiotext(e) edition by unpacking how retranslation affords a new opportunity to augment the author’s simultaneous relationship to his disease and his existence apart from it. In lieu of viewing retranslation as an exercise that highlights the inadequacies of first translations, I will highlight how queer subjectivity finds renewal and strength in the retranslation process.

Daniel Nabil Maroun teaches translation theory and practice at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research is largely committed to the representation of HIV/AIDS in French cultural productions, in particular contemporary representations in cinema and literature.

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