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Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa

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Transnational circulation: region, nation, identity and the material practices of translation

I Hofmeyr

Abstract


This article starts from the premise that we lack an adequate theory of how texts travel. There is of course a wealth of postcolonial theory on traveling texts but it evinces little interest in the material trajectories of how texts are distributed and consumed. This article seeks to ask how we might bring such an understanding of texts into view and what the larger theoretical advantage of such a move might be. The article draws on recent work by Warner which argues that questions of circulation lie at the heart of how publics come into being. For Warner, it is the limits and pathways of circulation that are critical. A key methodological move in such an equation is to pay close attention to how texts dramatise the limits of their circulation. The article explores these issues in relation to the international circulation of The Pilgrim’s Progress.



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