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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Cornell professors address critical theory, globalization, Feb. 22 and March 8 at SU

Naoki Sakai and Brett de Bary are experts in Asian studies and comparative literature

Feb. 7, 2013, by Rob Enslin

“The Politics of Translation” is the theme of two upcoming Humanities Center Mini-Seminars in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Naoki Sakai and Brett de Bary, professors of Asian studies and comparative literature at Cornell University, will give lectures on Friday, Feb. 22, and March 8, respectively.

HC Mini-Seminars are sponsored by The Central New York Humanities Corridor and begin at 10:30 a.m. in room 304 of the Tolley Humanities Building. Events are free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling 315-443-5708 or emailing For more information, visit 

“In today’s global economy, the notion of translation is more critical than ever,” says Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and founding director of The SU Humanities Center. “No longer does translation simply refer to the process of communication between languages. It is now the model by which we safeguard and promote linguistic and cultural diversity.”

“The Politics of Translation” is coordinated by Meera Lee, a Faculty Fellow in the Humanities and an affiliated faculty member of the Asian/Asia-American studies program at SU. Her working group, comprising professors and graduate students from SU and Cornell, seeks to assess society and culture by applying knowledge from the humanities and social sciences.

Lambert, who also serves as principal investigator of The CNY Humanities Corridor, is pleased with the speaker selections. “Both guests work at the intersection of critical theory and Asian modernity,” he says. “Professor Sakai is a leader in the study of comparative literature, intellectual history, and translation studies. Professor de Barry, in turn, is renowned for her understanding of Japan in traditional and postmodern perspectives.”

Sakai is an expert in critical theory and intellectual history, nationalism and colonialism, race and ethnicity, translation, and inscription and visuality. A prolific author and editor, he has overseen TRACES, a multilingual book series at Cornell about cultural theory and translation. Sakai also teaches history, as well as feminist, gender, and sexuality studies in Cornell’s Graduate School.

Brett de Bary
Brett de Bary
Former director of Cornell’s Society for the Humanities and Visual Studies Program, de Bary specializes in modern Japanese fiction and film, comparative literary theory, translation theory and post-colonial theory, and gender and philosophy. She is currently researching Japanese poet and non-fiction writer Morisaki Kazue, whose writings often deal with oppression suffered by individuals, especially laborers and women, at the hands of government. De Bary is associate editor of the TRACES series and, like Sakai, is an internationally sought-after lecturer.  

The next CNY Humanities Corridor event is an international symposium titled “Life In-Between-Outside Discipline and Control: Society for the Study of Bio-Political Futures,” April 5-6 at SU.

The SU Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to The CNY Humanities Corridor; the Watson Visiting Collaborator and Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship programs; the HC Mini-Seminar and Syracuse Symposium Seminar series; and other research initiatives, annual fellowships and public programming.