Hispanic Cultures
Esther Allen, Baruch College

Translation Is Activism: Michael Henry Heim's Defense of the Humanities

Michael Henry Heim (1943-2012) might not seem to have been a public intellectual. He rarely appeared in the media, his theoretical positions were embodied more than enunciated, most of his publications were literary translations, and his preferred sphere of action was behind the scenes. When he endowed what's been known, only since his death, as the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, he insisted on anonymity. Yet his alternate vision of the humanities set the stage for a quiet revolution, as the immense—perhaps transformative— impact of his decades of scholarship and activism continues to expand.