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About this Conference and Conversation Series

Watch the video recording of this event below:

Join us for the finale of Translating the Future, a 20-week series of conversations between translators, withPostmonolingual New York,” featuring Ava Chin, Jasmine Claude-Narcisse, Damion Searls, and Lisandro Pérez.

To walk down almost any New York City street is to move through a shifting constellation of languages. Nearly half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home and close to a quarter don't speak much English. Nevertheless, a monolingual paradigm persists in narratives of the city's history and literature disseminated by its most prominent cultural and media institutions, which often portray non-English speakers as newcomers, recent arrivals, outsiders or interlopers. Though its remarkable linguistic diversity has been a characteristic of the city for as long as it has existed, New Yorkers have come under attack in their own streets and subways for speaking languages that sounded "foreign" to Anglophone monolinguals. This evening’s speakers bring together just a few of the many threads of New York's richly multilingual history.

Click here to register for this event and for the link to the livestream. Free and open to the public, the livestream will start at Wed, September 23rd, at 6:00 PM (EDT).

The conversations will be hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell. *Viewers can submit questions during the livestreaming at [email protected].

Speaker Bios:

Ava Chin is the author of Eating Wildly (Simon & Schuster), which won 1st Prize in the 2015 M.F.K. Fisher Book Awards. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times (“Urban Forager”), the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, and Saveur, among others. She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. A former slam poet, she is an Associate Professor of Creative Nonfiction & Journalism at CUNY’s College of Staten Island. The Huffington Post named her one of "9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading."

Jasmine Claude-Narcisse is a member of the Henri Peyre French Institute Board of Directors. She completed a doctorate in French at the Graduate Center, CUNY (2018) with a thesis entitled “Rhétorique du soi dans la littérature haïtienne francophone du XXe siècle: Manques et Manquements?” Her research encompasses the rhetoric of the self in French and Francophone literature, Francophone Caribbean autobiography, and recalibrating the contours of Francophone literature. Among her publications, Mémoire de Femmes (1997), in collaboration with Pierre-Richard Narcisse, an account of interviews, research and oral histories of and on Haitian women in history, remains a work of reference in the field. For over twelve years, she led the Haitian Book Centre and the annual Haitian Book Day in New York. She has spearheaded the Henri Peyre French Institute’s continuous programming on Haiti, including the Haiti Rencontres series in 2012, curating its three-day conference Impunity, Responsibility and Citizenship – HAITI, in March 2016. As a professional educator in the field of second-language acquisition and French/Francophone literatures, she was a full-time visiting instructor at CUNY’s York College and Queensborough Community College and has taught at multiple campuses of CUNY, developing the Creole Language Program at York. She now works in secondary education. She is actively involved in the work of the collective Jean-Claude Charles which aims to revisit and promote this groundbreaking Haitian author through conferences, symposia and publications of a critical apparatus of his oeuvre.

Damion Searls is a translator from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch and a writer in English. He and Jon Fosse were longlisted for the International Booker Prize this year, for The Other Name: Septology I-Il; he has received Guggenheim, Cullman Center, and two NEA fellowships as well as the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize for Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for Uwe Johnson's four-volume Anniversaries, among other awards. Searls also edited the one-volume abridgment of Thoreau’s Journal: 1837–1861; his own books include What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going (stories), The Inkblots (a history of the Rorschach Test and biography of its creator, Hermann Rorschach, which has been translated into ten languages), and The Philosophy of Translation (forthcoming). Visit Damion Searls' website here.

Lisandro Pérez is a Professor of Latin American and Latinx Studies at John Jay College, City University of New York. He received a Ph.D. degree in Sociology from the University of Florida. Pérez has served as editor of the journal Cuban Studies and co-authored The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States (Allyn & Bacon, 2003). He has published in the Latin American Research Review, International Migration Review, Journal of Latin American Studies, Cuban Studies, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, among other journals. His most recent book, Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York (NYU Press, 2018), won the 2018 Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York history, awarded by the New York Academy of History. A Spanish edition of the book was published in 2020 by Casa de las Américas, a leading Cuban cultural institution.

Translating the Future:

Visit Translating the Future page here for the complete conference Program, video recordings of previous events in this series, as well as archival audio recordings, articles, the original program, and more history from PEN's 1970 World of Translation conference.

This conference and conversation series is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY, PEN America, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. This event is generously sponsored by the Princeton University Program in Translation & Intercultural Communication.