Karen Emmerich

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Office Phone
035 East Pyne

Office Hours Spring 2024: 

My office hours will be on Tuesdays 12 to 1PM, on Zoom.  And you can set up appointments using Bookings

Periods: nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century

Languages: Greek, English, Turkish

Research interests: Modern Greek literature, theories and practices of translation, experimental translation, experimental poetics, textual scholarship, migration and regimes of citizenship and belonging

My recent book, Literary Translation and the Making of Originals, brings recent work in field of textual scholarship to bear on discussions of translation, and vice versa, by examining the interaction of translation and textual instability. I argue that translation is not a mere transfer of a given “original” from one language into another, but rather a process of iterative growth by which a work’s reach is extended into other languages via the production of other textual representations. In the process, an original is often “fixed” or created, as translators adjudicate between multiple editions or versions of a work in its language(s) of composition. Case studies in the book include the Epic of Gilgamesh, the shifting corpus of Greek folk songs, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, C. P. Cavafy’s unfinished poems, and Jack Spicer’s translations and pseudotranslations of Federico García Lorca.

My current research explores the ways in which Greek citizenship and the Greek literary canon are constructed through parallel modes of targeted inclusion and expansive exclusion. My next book, tentatively titled Greek Literature on Shifting Ground: Nationalism, Migration, and Belonging in the Modern Greek Literary Canon, will investigate the ways in which a number of individuals writing in Greek from the time of the revolution onward have been either coopted into or excluded from conversations regarding “Greekness,” and likewise included in or excluded from the shifting category of Greek citizen.

I have also published articles on the visual and material poetics of Greek poets including C. P. Cavafy, Miltos Sachtouris, and Eleni Vakalo, and on the ways translators and editors have approached the challenges presented by the visual idiosyncrasy and textual instability manifested by these and other works. Before joining the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton, I was on the faculty of the University of Cyprus (2011-2012) and the University of Oregon (2012-2014) .

My academic commitment to translation as a mode and model for comparative work in the humanities is complemented by my work as a translator of modern and contemporary Greek literature. I have translated several books of Greek poetry and prose, and have received translation awards and grants from PEN, the NEA, and the Modern Greek Studies Association, as well as the BTBA.

Books (including translations)

Literary Translation and the Making of Originals. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Good Will Come From the Sea by Christos Ikonomou. Archipelago Books, 2018.

What’s Left of the Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos. New Vessel Press, 2018.

Something Will Happen, You’ll See by Christos Ikonomou. Archipelago Books, 2016.

Before Lyricism by Eleni Vakalo. Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015.

The Scapegoat by Sofia Nikolaidou. Melville House, 2015.

Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou. Open Letter, 2014.

Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (co-translated with Edmund Keeley). Archipelago Books, 2013.

The Sleepwalker by Margarita Karapanou. Clockroot Books, 2010.

Rien ne va plus by Margarita Karapanou. Clockroot Books, 2009.

Landscape with Dog and Other Stories by Ersi Sotiropoulos. Clockroot Books, 2009.

I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou. Dalkey Archive Press, 2008.

Poems (1945-1971) by Miltos Sachtouris. Archipelago Books, 2006.

The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis by Vassilis Vassilikos. Seven Stories Press, 2002.