MIT Global France Seminar presents:

Lecture by Zrinka Stahuljak: “Medieval Fixers: History, Literature, and the Politics of Translation”
Zrinka Stahuljak is Director of the University of California Los Angeles (CMRS) Center for Early Global Studies

Monday, October 24th @ 5:00pm (ET)
14E-304 map

Abstract: Ever since the western involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and then Syria, the term “fixer” became commonplace. It designates almost exclusively men who perform a range of services for foreign journalists and armies. Acting as interpreters, local informants, guides, drivers, mediators, brokers, these men are intermediaries, enablers who posess multiple skillls and bodies of knowledge. Fixers existed already in the Middle Ages, in situations of multilingual encounter, such as crusades, pilgrimages, proselytization, trade, translation. Fixers are the invisible men and women of history, then as now. This talk aims to restore their presence in a productive conversation between the fixers of the past and of the present. To look at history, literature, and politics through the lens of fixers changes our relationship to the world and how we structure it, and invites reflection on ‘intermediary states.’

Bio: Zrinka Stahuljak is Director of the CMRS Center for Early Global Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature and French at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her work has been recognized with major fellowships (Guggenheim; Fulbright; IAS Princeton), several visiting professorships including at the Collège de France (2018), in Iceland and Taiwan (2022), and at EHESS (2023), and in 2020 she was elected to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has authored or co-authored seven books, most recently Les Fixeurs au Moyen Âge: histoire et littérature connectées (Seuil, 2021), Médiéval contemporain: pour une littérature connectée (Macula, 2020), Pornographic Archaeology: Medicine, Medievalism, and the Invention of the French Nation (UPenn, 2013; French trans. PUR, 2018), and she has just completed Fixers: Agency, Translation, and Literary History of the Middle Ages (forthcoming UP Chicago, 2023).

Event registration: Open and free to public. Non-MIT community members should REGISTER in MIT’s Tim Tickets system in order to get access to building.

Additional sponsors:  French+ InitiativeMIT Literature, MIT Global LanguagesAncient & Medieval Studies Colloquium


Global France Seminar Fall 2022 | Website

  • 09/21/22 Renan Larue (University of California Santa Barbara) “French Veganism, an Oxymoron”
  • 10/12/22 Junko Takeda (Syracuse University) “Avedik Louis XIV’s Armenian Prisoner: Confessional Conflicts Involuntary Movement and Incarceration in the Early Modern Mediterranean”
  • 10/24/22 Zrinka Stahuljak (University of California Los Angeles) “Medieval Fixers: History, Politics, Literature”