Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Dr. Lydia Liu

As part of Phi Beta Kappa’s national Visiting Scholar Program, we are pleased to have with us next week Dr. Lydia Liu, who is a theorist of media and translation, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, and a bilingual writer in Chinese and English.  Please join us for two events next week!

Public Lecture (cultural credit):

Topic:  Who Owns Great Ideas?

When:  Thursday, November 16 at 4:30 pm

Where:  Rinker Auditorium (LBC 108)

Abstract:  The struggle over moral ideas has been an essential part of international politics in the modern world but, unfortunately, this process remains poorly understood. Are there universally shared moral sentiments across civilizations? Is cultural relativism trustworthy? What does cultural relativism include or exclude? Take the notion of “human rights.” Is this a Western idea? In my lecture, I will open up some of these issues by revisiting the UN archives relating to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the immediate postwar years. I conclude by reflecting on the future of moral ideas in the increasingly multipolar world of the 21st century.

Deliberating About Things That Matter (cultural credit):

Topic:  The Jabberwocky Nonsense: The Place of Meaning in Translation

When:  Friday, November 17 at 11 am

Where:  Hand Art Center Classroom

Abstract:  What we call translation is long overshadowed by semantics that privileges words and overlooks script and medium. Whenever writing is present, one translates words and even syllables (transcription) but not the letters that are used to write those words. The problem of translatability (and untranslatability), therefore, is as much about the whereabouts of meaning in foreign words and in one’s own language as it is about the resolution of meaning between them. Alphabetical letters remain almost as opaque or unthought as any of the non-words we find in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky verse. In my lecture, I will explore the disjuncture between word and letter, the relationship between letter and number, as well as the boundary of sense and nonsense in general, all of which have been brought into sharp focus by the conceptual and technological revolution in digital media.

We hope to see you next week!

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