TRANSMODERN is a two-year project to revisit the relation between modernity and untranslatability with focus on modern Iranian literary theory. Based on extensive archival research, “Untranslatable Modernity: Literary Theory from Europe to Iran” (TRANSMODERN for short), explores the crucial role of untranslatability and resistance to translation as formative forces in shaping modern Persian literary theory in Iran.
TRANSMODERN searches for “the modern” in the critical norms that are left out of translation in the form of distortions, variations and imaginary interpretations. These are usually located in footnotes.
In the forthcoming monograph, Modernity in Footnotes, I tell the story of a project of cultural renovation in Iran through the footnotes that writers and translators wrote to the works of European literary theory and criticism in the past century. This approach enables me to develop a model of literary comparison in which translation becomes a means of constellating (in Walter Benjamin’s sense), rather than substituting, concepts, genres, texts and forms in world literature.