Fixers: Agency, Translation, and the Early Global History of Literature

The Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies is pleased to announce the publication of Professor Zrinka Stahuljak’s new book: Fixers: Agency, Translation, and the Early Global History of Literature (University of Chicago, 2024). The book offers a new history of early global literature that treats translators as active agents mediating cultures. Stahuljak challenges scholars in both medieval and translation studies to rethink how ideas and texts circulated in the medieval world. Whereas many view translators as mere conduits of authorial intention, Stahuljak proposes a new perspective rooted in a term from journalism: the fixer. With this language, Stahuljak captures the diverse, active roles medieval translators and interpreters played as mediators of entire cultures—insider informants, local guides, knowledge brokers, art distributors, and political players. Fixers offers nothing less than a new history of literature, art, translation, and social exchange from the perspective not of the author or state but of the fixer.

Among its endorsements, the book has been acclaimed as “paradigm-shifting” by the way in which Stahuljak “boldly rewrites the terms of literary history” (Shirin Khanmohamadi, San Francisco State University). Carol Symes (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) writes: “By centering the agency and experiences of fixers, she not only opens up new interpretive possibilities for seemingly familiar texts but develops a powerful analytic lens through which to study the multifaceted meanings and contingencies of translation in a medieval world released from the demands of modern agendas.”

In addition to Professor of European Languages and Transcultural Studies, Stahuljak is also the Director of the CMRS Center for Early Global Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature. Among her recent books are Les Fixeurs au Moyen Âge: Histoire et littérature connectées (2021; Croatian trans. 2023), Médiéval contemporain: Pour une littérature connectée (2020), and Pornographic Archaeology: Medicine, Medievalism, and the Invention of the French Nation (2013; French trans. 2018).