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Emily Apter

Professor of French , Comparative Literature ; Department Chair

Ph.D., Princeton.

Office Address: 

13 University Place, 610 New York, New York (US) 10003


(212) 998-8702


(212) 995-4187

Areas of Research/Interest: 

Philosophizing in Languages, Political Theory, Translation theory and praxis sexuality and gender, critical theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, gender and ontology, new French philosophy, political fiction, French fiction and poetics, periodization critique, history and theory of Comparative Literature, critical pedagogies

Curriculum Vitae

External Affiliations:

Vice President of the American Comparative Literature Association, editor of a book series, Translation/Transnation, Princeton University Press, and serves on the editorial boards of PMLA, Comparative Literature, October and Signs.


Emily Apter is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Chair of Comparative Literature at New York University and currently serves as Vice-President of the American Comparative Literature Association. Her most recent books include: Against World Literature: On The Politics of Untranslatability (2013), Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (co-edited with Barbara Cassin, Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood) (2014); and The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (2006). A French translation of The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature was published in 2016 by Fayard in the series “Ouvertures” edited by Barbara Cassin and Alain Badiou. Together with Bruno Bosteels she co-edited Alain Badiou’s The Age of the Poets and Other Writings on Poetry and Prose (Verso 2014). Her most recent book project is Unexceptional Politics: A Glossary of Obstruction, Interference and the Impolitic (forthcoming, Verso, 2017). A new project is provisionally titled Translating in-Equality: Equivalence, Justness, Rightness, Equaliberty. She edits the book series Translation/Transnation for Princeton University Press.

Previously she published Continental Drift: From National Characters to Virtual Subjects (1999), Fetishism as Cultural Discourse, (co-edited with William Pietz in 1993), Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the-Century France (1991), and André Gide and the Codes of Homotextuality (1987). Current essays include “Gender, Ontology, Sexual Difference: Derrida and Malabou,” forthcoming in PhiloSOPHIA, “Political Serials: Tanner ’88 to House of Cards,” forthcoming in Symploké, and “’The Democratic Torrent:’ Rancière’s Micropolitics,” forthcoming in Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism, “Althusser’s Untranslatables” forthcoming in Reading Capital: 1965-2015, “Bartleby Politics,” in Melvillean Aesthetics: Media, Materiality, and the Political. Articles have appeared in Third Text, Centennial Review, boundary 2, New Literary History, Littérature, Artforum, Critical Inquiry, October, Translation Studies, PMLA, Cabinet, Romanic Review, Paragraph, The Global South, Comparative Literary Studies, Grey Room, The Boston Review, SITES, Angelaki, American Literary History, Parallax, Modern Language Notes, Esprit Créateur, Critique, differences, and Public Culture.

Recently published articles include “Shibboleth: Policing by Ear and Forensic Listening in Projects by Lawrence Abu Hamdan,” in October, “Occupy Derivatives!” in October, “Lexilalia” in Paragraph, “Planetary Dysphoria” in Third Text, “Philosophizing World Literature” in SITES, “O seminar!” in Cabinet, “Women’s Time (Again)” in differences, and "Philosophical Translation" (in MLA’s Profession). Apter is a member of the Executive Council of the Modern Languages Association and a New York Delegate. In fall 2014 she was a Humanities Council Fellow at Princeton University. In 2011 she was awarded a two-year Mellon Grant (with Jacques Lezra) for a seminar on “The Problem of Translation” and in 2012 she was appointed Remarque-Ecole Normale Supérieure Visiting Professor in Paris. In 2003-2004 she was a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.


Guggenheim Fellow (2003), Mellon, Rockefeller, ACLS, NEH, College Art Association.


Unexceptional Politics: A Glossary of Obstruction, Interference, the Impolitic Forthcoming (Verso, Fall 2017)

Forward to Etienne Balibar, Citizen Subject (Fordham UP, fall 2016)

French Translation of The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature  (Zones de traduction: vers une nouvelle littérature comparée Trans. Hélène Quiniou. (Paris: Editions Fayard) in the series “Ouvertures” edited by Barbara Cassin and Alain Badiou ( 2015).  Reviewed in Le Monde des Livres by Nicolas Weill (Oct. 2015).

Co-editor with Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood of the English edition of the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles ed. Barbara Cassin.  Title of Translation:  Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Reviewed in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Times Literary Supplement, Le Figaro Littéraire, Le Figaro, Independent on Sunday, Le monde diplomatique, Slate, New Inquiry, Asymptote, Choice, The London Review of Books. 

Co-authored Introduction (with co-editor and translator Bruno Bosteels) of Alain Badiou’s The Age of the Poets and Other Writings on Twentieth-Century Poetry and Prose  (Verso, November 2014).

Against World Literature.  On the Politics of Untranslatability (Verso, 2013) Reviewed in TLS, Chronicle of HigherEducation, boundary 2, Sydney Review of Books and many other professional journals.

The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (Princeton University Press, 2006)

Continental Drift: From National Characters to Virtual Subjects (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Fetishism as Cultural Discourse.  Edited by Emily Apter and William Pietz (a collection of interdisciplinary essays on fetishism:  medical history, anthropology, literary criticism, art and film theory).  Cornell University Press, 1993.  Personal contribution to book includes Introduction and Interview with artist Mary Kelly.

Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the-Century France.  Cornell University Press, 1991.

André Gide and the Codes of Homotextuality.  Stanford French and Italian Studies, vol. 48.  Saratoga, Calif.:  Anma Libri, 1987. 

Books in Progress:

Translation in-Equality: Equivalence, Justness, Rightness, Equaliberty

Essays/Articles Forthcoming:

“Gender, Ontology, Sexual Difference: Derrida and Malabou,” in PhiloSOPHIA

“Political Serials: Tanner ’88 to House of Cards,” in Symploké, Fall, 2017.

“The Critical Life: Rethinking Literary Biography,” in Ways of Rethinking Literature ed. Donatien Grau.

“Bartleby Politics,” in Melvillean Aesthetics: Media, Materiality, and the Political ed. Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, (Fordham University Press, fall 2017).

“’The Democratic Torrent:’ Rancière’s Micropolitics,” in Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism ed. Patrick Bray, Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming  fall 2016.

“Non-Equivalent, Not Translated, Incommensurate: Rethinking the Units of Comparison in Comparative Literature” for published volume of plenary sessions delivered at the International Comparative Literature Association (fall, 2017)

“Interference,” in Critical Transitions:  Genealogies and Trajectories of Change ed. Mark Botha, forthcoming, Bloomsbury, fall 2017.

“Rethinking the Textual Object: Translated, Archived, Curated, Punctuated, Looked At, Listened To….” for book edited by Tim Griffin.

“Althusser’s Untranslatables” for volume titled Reading Capital: 1965-2015 edited by Nick Nesbitt (Duke University Press, 2016).

Recent Published Essays:

“Shibboleth:  Policing by Ear and Forensic Listening in Projects by Lawrence Abu Hamdan,” in October 156  (April 2016). To be republished in May, 2016 as lead catalogue essay of book on artist’s work.

Response to Questionnaire on “Materialisms,” in October 155, April, 2016.

Interview with Simone Bertoia on Translation Theory, Centennial Review (2016)

“Le comparatisme comme approche critique/Comparative Literature as a Critical Approach,” in Rencontres – Littérature générale et comparée ed. Anne Tomiche, (Paris: Garnier, Spring, 2016).

“Rethinking Periodization for the `Now-Time:’” in Being Contemporary, ed. Lia Brozgal (Liverpool University Press, Spring, 2016).

 “Lexilalia:  On Translating an Untranslatable Dictionary of Philosophical Terms” (for Paragraph, special issue on Translation edited by Michael Syrotinski). (Fall, 2015).

 “Blue Sky Days are Always Ominous,”  Catalogue Essay for a show of work by David Birkin at The Mosaic Rooms Gallery in London (Jan. 2015)

“Recent French Theory:  Modes of Existence, Measured Life” for special issue of Textual Practice devoted to the topic: How Abstract Is It?  Economic Crisis and the Return of the Real (Fall 2014), to be republished in a book of the same title, Routledge, 2017.

 “Impolitic,” in Political Concepts (ed. Anne Stoler), Spring, 2014.

“Barbara Cassin, philosophe de l’intraduisible,” publication of the Actes du Colloque from the Cerisy-la-Salle colloquium on the work of Barbara Cassin.  (2014)

“Fictions politiques/démarches impolitiques,” in French journal Raison Publique
Co-editor with Emmanuel Bouju of special issue on Political Fiction for Raison Publique (spring, 2014).

Preface, English edition of the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: dictionnaire des intraduisibles (Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon).  Princeton University Press, 2014, vii-xv.

“Translation at the Checkpoint,” in Journal of Postcolonial Writing 50, Issue 1 (Fall, 2014): 56-74.

“Politics ‘small p’: Second Empire Machiavellianism in Zola’s Son Excellence Eugène Rougon in Romanic Review Vol. 102 Nos. 3-4 May-Nov. 2011 (published in 2013): 411-426.

“Planet Dysphoria,” for special issue of Third Text on “Art and Ecology,” No. 120 (Jan. 2013): 131-140. 

“Occupy Derivatives!/Politics ‘smallest p’”  October 142 (Fall 2012): 86-106.

 “Towards a Unisex Erotics: Claude Cahun and Geometric Modernism,” in Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature After Sexology, eds. Anna Katharina Schaffner and Shane Weller (Palgrave, MacMillan, 2012): 124-149.


“Janking Off (Trumpism)” for Queens Museum International Biennial Exhibition, 2016

Discussion on Art and Literature, Maison Française, with Alain Badiou (12/10/15)

Emily Apter, ‘Transatlantic Feminism’ post-DSK affair’. Public Books.

Blog Discussion on Emma Sulkowitz Projects:

Interview, Slate Salon (Radio)

Review of the Whitney Biennial, Artforum 52, no. 9 (May, 2014). 312-313.

Editorial Advisory Boards:

     Political Concepts
     Publication of the Modern Language Association (PMLA)
     Public Culture
     Women’s Studies Quarterly
     Romanic Review
     October. A Journal of Art, Theory, Criticism, Politics
     Comparative Literature

Book Series Editor, (since 1999) Translation/Transnation, Princeton University Press

Books published in series:
Azade Seyhan,  Writing Outside the Nation
Margaret Cohen and Carolyn Dever, eds.  The Literary Channel: The Inter-national Invention of the Novel
Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing
David Damrosch, What is World Literature?
Reda Bensmaïa, Experimental Nations, or the Invention of the Maghreb
Isabel Hofmayr, The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of the Pilgrim’s Progress
Etienne Balibar, We the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship
Sandra Bermann and Michael Wood, eds. Nation, Language and the Ethics of Translation
Srinivas Aravamudan, Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language
Nicholas Brown, Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature
Martin Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos and Avant-Gardes
Emily Apter, The Translation Zone.  A New Comparative Literature
Gil Hochberg, In Spite of Partition: Arabs, Jews, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination
The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature: From the European Enlightenment to the Global Present eds. David Damrosch et al. 
Mary Helen McMurran, The Spread of Novels
Timothy Bewes, The Event of Postcolonial Shame
Margaret Cohen, The Novel and the Sea
Margaret Litvin, Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost
Andrew Rubin, Archives of Authority
John Hamilton, Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care
Barbara Cassin et al, Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon
Mark Sanders, Learning Zulu: A Secret History of Language in South Africa
Michael Allan, In the Shadow of World Literature

Updated on 11/03/2016