Skip to page Content.

Emily Apter

Professor of French , Comparative Literature

Ph.D., Princeton.

Office Address: 

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


(212) 998-8702


(212) 995-4187

Curriculum Vitae

External Affiliations:

Editor of a book series, Translation/Transnation, Princeton University Press, and serves on the editorial boards of PMLA, Comparative Literature, October and Signs.


My engagement with French studies is grounded in theory and philosophy, bolstered in recent years by collaborative work on the English edition of the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles (published in 2014 with Princeton University Press under the title Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon). At NYU I regularly teach seminars on “Recent French Theory” and “Nineteenth-Century Political Fiction,” along with courses devoted to more specialized topics: French feminism, media theory, critical archiving and attachment theory, pedagogy as a form of critical praxis, the 1970s in art and politics, and single-author seminars on Barthes, Derrida and Deleuze. I am currently completing the third of three books devoted to “untranslatability,” the latest on the problem of “translating in-equality and translating in-justice.” Another project nearing completion delves into French literature of the Restoration and the Second Empire for a phenomenology of micropolitics: from backroom, ministerial deals and financial speculation, to information trafficking, to psychopolitical calculations that define political intelligence, to acts of civil disobedience and interference. The texts or scenes that I’m concerned with fall outside the conventions of historical epic or political theories of “the Political” that take sovereign exceptionalism as a point of departure. They are read as guides to modes of the impolitic (interference, obstruction) that enable us to think more clearly about actually existing force-fields of power and impasses to direct action. As a member of the Executive Council of the MLA, as Chair-Elect of the Department of Comparative Literature, as the editor of the book series Translation/Transnation (Princeton University Press) and as co-organizer with several NYU colleagues of the event series on “New French Philosophy,” I have been particularly interested in the political tensions and imbrications of institutional practices informing contemporary critical fields.


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


Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, (Princeton UP, 2014)

Against World Literature.  On the Politics of Untranslatability (Verso, 2013)

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). 

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

La fiction politique (XIXe-XXIe siècles)

Proceedings of the journée d'étude held at NYUParis in collaboration with the Groupe phi (CELLAM, Université Rennes 2) and the AND « Pouvoir des arts » on 9 November 2012, are now accessible online.


“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.

“Translatlantic Feminism in the Wake of the DSK Affair” Public Culture (Fall 2012)

“Pour une politique de la traduction.  Entretien avec Emily Apter” with Kate Briggs and Hélène Quiniou in Revue Internationale des Livres et des Idées No. 2 (Nov-Dec. 2011): 44-51.

“The Right to Translation: Deconstructive Pedagogies, 1979/2009,” boundary 2  Vol. 37, 3 (Fall 2010): 29-56.

Afterword (co-authored with Elaine Freedgood)  to a special issue “The Way We Read Now:  On Symptomatic Reading and its Aftermath,” Representations 108 (Fall, 2009): 139-146.

“What is Yours, Ours and Mine: On the Limits of Ownership and the Creative Commons,” in Angelaki Vol. 14 No. 1 (April 2009): 87-199.

Introduction: “Untiming the Nineteenth-Century” Forum of Panel Papers from MLA 2007, in PMLA Vol. 124, No. 1 (Jan 2009): 273-288.

“Untranslatables: A World System” in New Literary History Vol. 39 (Summer 2008), No. 3: 581-598.  (Translated into Japanese by Sachi Nakachi, 2011).

“Technics of the Subject: The Avatar-Drive” in Postmodern Culture Vol 18, No. 2 (Jan. 2008).

“Biography of A Translation: Madame Bovary between Eleanor Marx and Paul de Man”
in Translation Studies  Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 2008): 73-89.

Book Series Translation/Transnation (Princeton University Press)
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: Empire, Culture and the Cold War
John Hamilton, Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care

Curriculum Vitae

Download full syllabus for Fall 2013 graduate seminar, Very Recent French Theory: Modes of Existence, Measured Worlds.

Updated on 07/07/2016