Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

October 2014


In this essay C. C. Wharram argues that Terence's concept of translation as a form of “contamination” anticipates recent developments in philosophy, ecology, and translation studies. Placing these divergent fields of inquiry into dialogue enables us read Terence's well-known statement “I am a human being — I deem nothing human alien to me” as a recognition of the significance of the “nothing human” for contemporary humanism. By recasting Terence's human/foreign pairing through Freud's concept of the uncanny, Wharram draws a parallel between a “nothing human” that is radically interior to the human subject and an exterior agency of “nothing human” described by actor-network theory and object-oriented ontology. Only through an “alien phenomenology” (a concept borrowed from Ian Bogost) dependent on metaphors and translations that are necessarily approximate (or “contaminated”) can we begin to approach this “nothing human.”


Final version available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/edth.12078/abstract