The Experience of the Foreign: Marc Nichanian on Translating into Armenian

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On November 13, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Certificate in Translation program hosted a talk by French-Armenian translator, literary critic, philosopher and translation theorist Marc Nichanian, entitled “Թարգմանել հայերեն / Translate into Armenian,” attended by students and faculty of translation studies from AUA and other universities, as well as translators at large.

Nichanian began his talk by discussing the founding of his literary journal, “Կամ” (Gam), which he launched in 1980 and which has introduced translations of works by writers and theorists such as Maurice Blanchot, Georges Bataille, Jean-Luc Nancy, Antoine Berman, Walter Benjamin and others. These translation excerpts eventually grew into full-length books, which as Nichanian stressed, had to be published and circulated in the Republic of Armenia so as to begin a critical dialog between Western and Eastern Armenian. Both the journal and the ensuing books treat translation as a mode of thought and include in-depth reviews, analyses, and critiques of the translated material, bearing witness to the intellectual process of translation.

Nichanian then introduced two of his latest translations, Antoine Berman’s influential work The Experience of the Foreign: Culture and Translation in Romantic Germany, which he co-translated with Raffi Ajemian and which is just out through Sargis Khachents & Printinfo, and Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, forthcoming in 2018. The latter was the topic of a two-week workshop led by Nichanian in Shushan Avagyan’s ‘History and Theories of Translation’ course earlier in October.

Nichanian’s full talk at AUA can be viewed here.

Marc Nichanian has taught in France, the United States, Armenia, Turkey, and Italy. He is the author of many books, including a multivolume study of modern Armenian literature titled Entre l’art et le témoignage, the first volume of which, Writers of Disaster, appeared in English in 2002. He is the editor of the Armenian language Gam: An Analytical Journal, and the translator of, among others, Maurice Blanchot’s Récits, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist, and Antoine Berman’s L’épreuve de l’étranger. Nichanian is an invited professor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of the American University of Armenia.