My Name Is Red: Acts of Literature and Translation in the Margins of Cultural Literacy


Taking as its backdrop the reception of Orhan Pamuk’s novels in the West as meta-commentaries on the clash of civilizations, this paper discusses a Derridean approach to the value of teaching literature in general and teaching literature for cultural understanding and global citizenship in particular. This approach implicates a double shift in education perspective: from the cultivation of narrative imagination to a translational approach to literariness and from Nussbaum’s definition of cosmopolitanism as development of love for humanity across concentric circles of identification to a cosmopolitan framing of acts of literature and translation. This double shift is elucidated in the paper through a double gesture: first, the engagement with Derrida’s concepts of iterability, repetition, acts of literature; second, the performative’s break from context is interlayered with a performative reading of Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name Is Red. The paper calls for an educational philosophy of literature in education that addresses the self-reflexivity of the text rather than story line, form rather than content of narrative imagination, and politics of translation rather than translation of cultural others. Cultural literacy and culturally engaged readings of literature could learn from such an interlayered performative reading how to preserve translation alive in the other, and, vice versa, how to reenact adventures of translation towards challenging familiar and reified forms of cultural identity and not only orientalist images of mullahs.

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Gregoriou, Z. (2013). My Name Is Red: Acts of Literature and Translation in the Margins of Cultural Literacy. Creative Education, 4, 36-44. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.44A006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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