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Authors | Avery Slater

Avery Slater is assistant professor of English at the University of Toronto. Her current book project Apparatus Poetica looks at how late modernist theories of poetic process respond to the rise of computation and information technologies. Her work has appeared in Cultural Critique, American Literature, Transformations, and others. Forthcoming chapters in edited volumes include the “Machine Translation” chapter in Cambridge Critical Concepts: Technology (ed. Adam Hammond) and “Poetry and Autopoiesis” in Literature and Science (ed. Priscilla Wald).

Articles on Amodern by Avery Slater


Machine Translation and the Poetics of Automation

This article tracks the rise of two separate Cold War endeavors: machine translation and computer-generated literature. Technocratic imperatives to circumvent the unhomogenizable nature of linguistic plurality influenced machine translation’s theory and design from the outset. Thus, the machinic ingenuity that makes all languages in the world accessible to every other actually works to intensify polylingualism’s outmoding. Couched in terms of universal intelligibility, this latently monolingual fantasy constitutes an ideology of “crypto-monolingualism.” Placing the machine that writes alongside the machine that translates, this comparative historical analysis of machine translation and computer-generated literature also meditates on how neural-networked machine translation aligns with powerful global incentives to accelerate technologically-assisted monolingualism.