Because my question is not about the convention expected by the panel that will be reading my PhD application, not really. My question is how much of my cultural identity am I flattening out every time that I cite Calvino, Kafka and Cortázar in English, although I experienced them in their original language.
By citing those authors in English I am:
- failing to acknowledge that a particular piece of artistic work has been produced within the Italian, German, Spanish culture (and in a language that is not English);
- implicitly accepting the idea that whatever is worth citing in an academic paper, was created in English;
- introducing the reader to the work of less known artists by presenting them with an interpretation of their art (while most people know that Calvino wrote in Italian, fewer people might know the language in which Horváth wrote);
- perpetuating the cultural hegemony of the English language, automatically accepted as the norm, relegating the rest to variations or exceptions.
Despite the presence of many academics whose first language is not English at the university (people who, one can assume, have experienced authors in languages other than English), this doesn’t appear to be a common topic of conversation.