'On Not Knowing: Reading and Writing in Other Languages,' A Masterclass by Professor Rebecca Walkowitz

13 December, 2017
2:00pm – 3:30pm

Rogers Room, John Woolley Building A20, Science Road, University of Sydney

This seminar explores recent work on the history and politics of languages, in particular the concepts of monolingualism, multilingualism, translation, and "native" command or fluency. We'll ask how the concept of the first or native language has shaped our approaches to literary history, close reading, and world literature. Why would a writer want to operate in a language she does not know, or does not know well?  



Jhumpa Lahiri, selections form In Other Words

Yasemin Yildiz, from Beyond the Mother Tongue

Bellos from Is That A Fish In Your Ear?


Junot Díaz, "The Pura Principle"

Naoki Sakai, "How Do We Count a Language?"

Rebecca L. Walkowitz, "This Is Not Your Language"


Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Professor of English and Affiliate Faculty in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is the author two books, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (2015), which received Honorable Mention for the first annual Matei Calinescu Prize from the MLA, and Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (2006); and editor or coeditor of eight books, including A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism (edited with Eric Hayot, 2016). Her current research focuses on the concept of the anglophone and the representation of world languages in contemporary writing. For full bio: 

To RSVP and for inquiries, please contact Dr. Fiona Lee:


Location: Rogers Room, John Woolley Building A20

Contact:Dr. Fiona Lee