CFP: Philosophy of Untranslatability (Journal Special Issue)

Submission deadline: October 31, 2020

Topic areas


Submissions invited for the Special Issue of the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (JCLA) on the philosophy of untranslatability. 

This Special Issue aims to initiate a discussion on the various tenets of untranslatability: epistemological, semiotic and aesthetic concerns that shall enable us to understand translation, the process and its philosophy, in a nuanced and novel manner.  


Translation is an activity that marks the differences which surface in cross-cultural encounters. It seeks to negotiate these inevitable differences to help us understand language-cultures that are (not) ours, or comprehend an ‘other’ who is (not) us. The non-negotiable differences then draw us to the titular question, “How does the pursuit of finding an equivalence fare in this process?”. It is in these gaps of translation that we encounter the untranslatable, that which cannot be comprehended or translated. Amidst the ongoing discussions around World Literature, that thrives on translation, untranslatability disrupts the presumed coherence in the very process and makes us aware of the irreducible differences latent within alternate ways of expression. 

This Special Issue aims to initiate a discussion on the various tenets of Untranslatability: epistemological, semiotic and aesthetic concerns that shall enable us to understand translation; the process and its philosophy in a nuanced and novel manner. Untranslatability, which has long been studied as an obstacle or a hurdle in the act of translation; needs to be approached from alternate trajectories that see it as a leeway enabling the indigenous and vernacular discourses to retain the exclusive differences that mark the identity of their language-cultures. Can we study this “right to untranslatability” as a way of resisting the Anglocentric, monolingual way of perceiving World Literature, by asking questions pertaining to what constitutes the world and the region, the global and the local? This raises further questions on how we understand and see the world, which is inescapably tied to the language-culture(s) we are a part of. The problems locating the ‘world’ in “World Literature” and the importance for ‘regions’ and vernacular discourses to mark their presence within the ‘world’ along with discussions around the trajectory and reception of regional and vernacular texts and genres as they travel across the world are welcome. What happens to the untranslated texts and the untranslatable ideas in the niche of World Literature is an aspect this issue seeks to engage with. The problem of a myopic view of World Literature, and the epistemic violence induced in the process of translation which is baked by a social and political power shall be addressed. It shall also focus on the formation of ‘untranslatable’ and initiate a semiotic study of language, its use, the process of meaning-making within a language and the signs and symbols particular to a language-culture. The importance of studying the notion of referentiality in language and its immense contribution in understanding the roots of untranslatability shall be another crucial line of inquiry. 

The special issue on Untranslatability invites research papers, articles and book reviews which focus on, but are not limited to the following sub-themes to justify the relevance and scope of the issue: 

1. Translation as a Cross-Cultural Transaction 

2. Negotiating Differences across Language-cultures 

3. Self/Other in Translation

4. Problems in Translation 

5. Formation of Untranslatable 

6. Politics of Untranslatability 

7. Language and Meaning Making 

8. World Literature and Regional Literatures 

9. Indigenous Narratives

10. Travelling Genres Across Frontiers 

11. Epistemological Concerns of World Literature 

12. Vernacularization of World Literature 

13. ‘World’ in World Literature 

14. ‘Region’ within the ‘World’ 

15. Dialectics of Global and Local 

16. Signs, Symbols and Referentiality 

17. Aesthetic concerns of Untranslatability 

18. Interminability of Translation 

Guest Editor: Deepshikha Behera, Department of English Literature (School of Literary Studies), The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, India  

All papers must be sent to,

Format/ Font: MS Word in Times New Roman 12 pt (4,000-6,000 words)

Last date of submission: 30 October 2020. 

Final date of intimation: 10 November 2020.   

All papers must be original and unpublished. The cover letter should have the name of the author, institutional affiliation, brief bio, and a short declaration that the paper has not been published, presented or submitted elsewhere. 


The Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (ISSN: 0252-8169) is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal published by the Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, India since 1977. The Institute was founded on 22 August 1977 coinciding with the birth centenary of legendary philosopher, aesthetician, and historian of Indian art, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947).

The Journal is committed to interdisciplinary and cross-cultural issues in literary understanding and interpretation, aesthetic theories, conceptual analysis of art, literature, philosophy, religion, mythology, history of ideas, literary theory, history, and criticism.

The Journal has already published eminent scholars like Rene Wellek, Harold Osborne, John Hospers, John Fisher, Murray Krieger, Martin Bocco, Remo Ceserani, J.B. Vickery, Menachem Brinker, Milton Snoeyenbos, Mary Wiseman, Ronald Roblin, T.R. Martland, S.C. Sengupta, K.R.S. Iyengar, V.K. Chari, Charles Altieri, Martin Jay, Jonathan Culler, Richard Shusterman, Robert Kraut, T.J. Diffey, T.R. Quigley, R.B. Palmer, Keith Keating, and many others.

JCLA is indexed and abstracted in the MLA International Bibliography, Master List of Periodicals (USA), Ulrich’s Directory of Periodicals, ERIH PLUS, ISI, Philosopher’s Index, ACLA, EBSCO, UGC-Inflibnet, ProQuest, and Gale (Cengage).

Celebrated scholars of the time like Rene Wellek, Harold Osborne, Mircea Eliade, Monroe Beardsley, John Hospers, John Fisher, Meyer Abrams, John Boulton, and many renowned foreign and Indian scholars were Members of its Editorial Board.




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