Professor Dr. Bettine Menke

Alfried Krupp Senior Fellow
(October 2020 - September 2021) 

  • Born in 1957 in Köln
  • Studied philosophy and new german literature at the University of Konstanz
  • Professor for General and Comparative Literature at the University of Erfurt 

Fellow project: "The unacountable other languages in the anguage i speak or write“

Putting the multilingualism of the language that I speak and write into perspective allows for the subversion of the notion of language as territorialized, as being closed and homogeneous. This implies as well the subversion of traditional models of translation that is conceived to translate from one homogenous language closed into itself into another. The non-countable inherent multiplicity within one language is untranslatable, is omitted by any traditional translation into one language. Conversely, translation can turn the assumed language of one’s own into something other. The promotion of this notion is a matter ever more of urgency. So many write and speak a language that is not one’s or their own: minorities, displaced people, refugees, minor languages, languages in the making. Such situations are turned into affirmative strategies of not-belonging (to/of no language, no identity, no geneology), for example by Kafka, Celan, Joyce, Derrida, Cixous, Tawada. Unaccountable multitudes of languages and of non-teleological movements are crossing (through) the non-closed, the nomadic: Yiddish, Mauscheln, Kauder­welsch. In order to promote the construct of national languages these are being dismissed as mishmash-languages or no-languages, as no-one’s mother tongues, mere babble. These concepts and practices I will relate to languages in a nomadic move, fleeing (auf der Flucht), without a territory to belong, ‘ohne Zugehörigkeit’.