Award–winning author Ian Balfour, professor of English in York’s Faculty of Arts and the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought, will be on hand tomorrow at the York University Bookstore from 4 to 6pm for the launch of two books he has co-edited: Subtitles, with Atom Egoyan, and a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly titled And Justice for All?
“Every film is a foreign film,” Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour say in their introduction to Subtitles, co-published by The MIT Press and Alphabet City Media. How, then, to translate the experience of film which makes us “feel outside and inside at the same time”? Taking subtitles as their point of departure, the 32 contributors to this unique collection consider translation, foreignness, and otherness in film culture. Their discussions range from the mechanics and aesthetics of subtitles themselves to the xenophobic reaction to translation to subtitles as a metaphor for the distance and intimacy of film.
The essays, interviews, and visuals include a collaboration by Russell Banks and Atom Egoyan, which uses quotations from Banks’s novel The Sweet Hereafter as subtitles for publicity stills from Egoyan’s film of the book; three early film reviews by Jorge Luis Borges; an interview with filmmaker Claire Denis about a scene in her film Friday Night that should not have been subtitled; and Eric Cazdyn’s reading of the running subtitles on CNN’s post-9/11 newscasts as a representation of new global realities. Several writers deal with translating cultural experience for an international audience, including Frederic Jameson on Balkan cinema, John Mowitt on the history of the “foreign film” category in the Academy Awards, and Ruby Rich on the marketing of foreign films and their foreign languages — “Somehow, I’d like to think it’s harder to kill people when you hear their voices,” she writes. And Slavoj Zizek considers the “foreign gaze” (seen in films by Hitchcock, Lynch, and others), the misperception that sees too much.
Designed by Egoyan and award-winning graphic designer Gilbert Li, the book includes many colour images and 10 visual projects by artists and filmmakers. The pages are horizontal, suggesting a movie screen; they use the cinematic horizontal aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Subtitles offers not only a new way to think about film but also a singular design object.
About And Justice for All?
A special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, the book looks at questions of human rights, among the most pressing and intractable matters at this historical moment. If claims to human rights are by definition universal, the formulation, legislation, and implementation of them tend to be significantly less than universal. And Justice for All? examines the idea and the reality of human rights and their attendant discourses. The essays gathered here – from academics and activists working in law, philosophy, political theory, literature, medicine and NGOs – collectively interrogate these universal claims to human rights and the political justice that may or may not follow from them.
About the editors
Ian Balfour, left, whose research interests include Romantic poetry and prose, contemporary theory and criticism, and 18th-century poetry and philosophy, is the author of Northrop Frye (1988). He has also written on the Romantics (Wordsworth, Blake, Godwin, Inchbald), Walter Benjamin, Paul Man, and on numerous topics in popular culture (music, television, film). His book, The Rhetoric of Romantic Prophecy (2002), won the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association (MLA) of America. See story in the Feb. 5 issue of YFile.
Atom Egoyan is an internationally acclaimed film director whose works include The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat, Exotica, and Calendar.
Eduardo Cadava is a professor at Princeton University and specializes in American literature and culture, literary and political theory, comparative literature, media technologies, and theory of translation.
Everyone is welcome to attend the launch which takes place in the York University Bookstore, York Lanes, Wednesday, 4 to 6pm.