Arts & Sciences Workshop: Sergio Pitol's Strategic Occidentalism: Translation and Literary Worldmaking


Thursday, October 25, 2018, 6:00pm


CGIS South, S216, 1730 Cambridge Street


Speaker: Ignacio Sánchez Prado, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
Moderator: Mariano Siskind, Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

The seminar seeks to explore the construction of “world literature” as concrete networks from below rather than systems that reproduce, from above, the inequities of the world system. The workshop is interested in the question of national world literature, and will address the importance on focusing on the author, the nation and the linguistic tradition a sites of enunciation for world literature. The case study is the work of Sergio Pitol as translator and writer from the 1960s to the 1980s. Pitol is a well-known translator (of over fifty works of literature mostly from English and Slavic traditions), an influential and well-recognized writer and a keen literary critic. Due to the nature of his work, he provides a particularly pertinent case for the study of the relations between individual writers and the institutional networks of world literature. The chapter focuses on the way Pitol constructs a personal, and idiosyncratic, version of world literature, which is projected towards his writing and towards the reception of certain literary traditions in the Spanish-speaking world (via his translations and the presses that publish them). Pitol is also relevant to understand the rendering of a particular brand of cosmopolitanism (evident in his essays) that does not correspond to predominant modes of world, transatlantic, global or modernist literature.

Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado is Professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies and Film and Media Studies. He received a Licenciatura (B.A.) in Literature from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla in Mexico, and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh. His areas of research include Mexican literary, film and cultural studies; Latin American intellectual history, neoliberal culture, food cultural studies and “world literature” theory. He is the author of El canon y sus formas: La reinvención de Harold Bloom y sus lecturas hispanoamericanas (2002), Poesía para nada (2005), Naciones intelectuales. Las fundaciones de la modernidad literaria mexicana (1917-1959) (2009. Winner of the LASA Mexico 2010 Book Award), Intermitencias americanistas. Estudios y ensayos escogidos (2004-2010) (2012), and Screening Neoliberalism. Mexican Cinema 1988-2012 (2014), and Strategic Occidentalism. On Mexican Fiction, The Neoliberal Book Market and the Question of World Literature (2018). His work in progress includes a forthcoming volume with his essays on Alfonso Reyes, entitled Intermitencias alfonsinas, and book-length studies on cosmopolitanism and genre in mid-century Mexican film, and on the question of transnationalism in Mexican cinema.