LIT 70R, Fall 1998

Sibelan Forrester
Kohlberg 340
Tel. (328) 8162

Office Hours, Fall 1998:

Translation is a fundamental human activity; literary translation forms the basis of most readers' acquaintance with world literature. This course will combine theory and practice to approach translation in its full complexity as both an art and a science. In reading, discussion and practice we will draw on the points of view of creative writing, linguistics, and literary theory.

Since this course is available both for Social Science (Linguistics) and Humanities (Literature and Russian) credit, please make sure you are aware of the requirements imposed by your registration choices, and adjust in plenty of time if necessary.

The Craft of Translation, edited by John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989)
Theories of Translation, edited by Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)

You need to join the American Literary Translators' Association (ALTA), which will provide you with several issues of the ALTA Newsletter, TR (Translation Review), and the opportunity to attend this year's conference in Guadalajara, Mexico (NOT required). We have made a special arrangement: your membership will extend from noe through the end of 1999. If you leave Swarthmore before the end of 1999, you can change your address with the ALTA home office:

ALTA's web site is at"

Furthermore, though a good part of the work of the course can be carried on electronically, we will generate a lot of paper and you should plan to store it in an attractive and convenient way.

Each class session will include discussion of readings from the required texts and reserve shelf; presentation and critique of work in progress; a focused exercise (usually on-the-spot translation or editing of a brief text); a fun exercise; and (after the first couple of weeks) presentations of class members' work and research topics.
You will also be required to attend the bilingual readings (happening more or less weekly), unless you have previously cleared your absence with me. The first reading has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 8; later readings will be scheduled to suit the majority of class members. For the last three or so weeks, you will be planning and performing in the readings.
Participation in class and readings will count for 20% of your grade.

1) Over the course of the semester, you'll be required to present, in class, one of the readings from the required texts (or, if they are all boring or already taken, from the assigned reserve readings), to raise interesting questions about it and help to answer questions from class members. On a separate occasion, you will present your own work in progress -- your final paper topic, or else the logic of a portfolio of annotated translations -- ideally, the major project you are preparing for the semester's end. Each presentation will account for 10% of your grade.
2) The first small translation project (covering weeks 2 and 3) will be one poem or a small piece of prose or drama; final version is due on September 28. If possible, choose a text from a language you do not know and work with an expert or a native speaker. It will account for 5% of your grade.
3) The second, more substantial project, will be a set of 5-6 poems, a brief short story, or a short play, due on October 26. This project will account for 15% of your grade.
4) The third project is an annotated, 2-3 page bibliography either of translations by other people (unified by a major theme or area or two) or else of literary or linguistic works (books, articles) about translation, unified by linguistic tradition or theoretical approach. Due November 23. This will account for 10% of your grade.
5) The fourth project is to assemble a portfolio of translations, after consultation with me and (if appropriate) another faculty member, to work on over the course of the rest of the semester and hand in the first day of final examinations (December 14). The overall length should be 20 -25 pages. If you are taking this course for LITERATURE or RUSSIAN credit, you may write a 10-15 page paper as part of this project, analyzing the theory, history or practice of some issue or part of translation that interests you. If you are taking this course for LINGUISTICS credit, a substantial part of this project will be a 10-15 page paper dealing with an appropriate issue in Linguistics -- ideally, related to your (10-15 page) translation portfolio. If you are interested in translation as CREATIVE WRITING, the more substantial translation portfolio you may assemble should include a 1-2 page "introduction" -- the sort of material that would preface a reading or publication of your work. The final project will account for 30% of your grade.
6) All of these projects may be done in the form of web pages, though the in-class workshopping will be done on paper. The final project should be done in the form of a web page unless you have a dispensation from me. With your permission, I'll add links to your pages from the syllabus page, and the whole thing will be a delightful edifice of art & knowledge.

Susan Bassnett, ed. Translating Literature
John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte, eds., The Craft of Translation
Robert Bly, The Eight Stages of Translation
William Frawley, ed. Translation: Literary, Linguistic and Philosophical Perspectives
Maurice Friedberg, Literary Translation in Russia: A Cultural History
Theo Hermans, ed., The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation
Edward Honig, The Poet's Other Voice: Conversations on Literary Translation
Donald Keene, Landscapes and Portraits: Appreciations of Japanese Culture
Andre Lefevre, Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame Lauren Leighton, Two Worlds, One Art: Literary Translation in Russia and America
Suzanne Jill Levine, The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction
Rachel May, The Translator in the Text: On Reading Russian Literature in English
Joshua Mostow, Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin isshu in Word and Image
Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism and the Colonial Context
Henry Schogt, Linguistics, Literary Analysis and Literary Translation
Hans Schulte and Gerhard Teuscher, eds, The Art of Literary Translation
Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet, eds., Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida
Sherry Simon, Gender in Translation: Cultural Identity and the Politics of Transmission
TEXTE, Revue de critique et de théorie littéraire (bilingual issue on trans.)
TR (Translation Review), No. 54, 1998
V. N. Voloshinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language

American Literary Translators Association

TWO LINES: a journal of translation


Week 1: How does one come to the ambition or activity of translation?
(Sept. 7) Introduction to the course; overview of readings and system; Bly's "Stages"; work on a sample translation

September 8 -- poetry reading from Russian

Week 2: Why don't translators (usually) use pseudonyms?
(Sept. 14) Choose articles to present; "false" translation; in small groups present text you've chosen for first project (rough draft)

September 15 -- no reading this week

Week 3: Which famous writers began their careers as translators?
(Sept. 21) Bring in the "trot" you started with for your first project poem, trade, edit and translate; small group: workshop first project poem
Article presentation --

September 22 -- reading of poetry in and from Spanish by Aurora Camacho de Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Spanish at Swarthmore College

Week 4: What is the relationship of translating to creative writing?
(Sept. 28) Present final version of first project, due today; discuss experience and results; bring in someone else's translation that you like, present and critique them in small groups
Article presentation --
Project presentation --

September 29 -- reading of poetry in and from French, German, Latin and Czech by Robert Sklenar, Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Swarthmore College

Week 5: How have theories of translation evolved over the centuries?
(Oct. 5) Bring in a 'trot" you have done and as many translations of the piece as you can find (3-4 max), with enough copies for everyone; present and compare their flaws and virtues; present part of second project in small groups
Article presentation --
Project presentation --

October 5 -- reading of poetry in and from Latin and Provenćal by Alastair Thompson '99

Week 6: What if the text to be translated is religious?
(Oct. 19) Work up a draft translation from a "trot" I'll provide, read and critique versions; present drafts of more of second project in small groups
Article presentation --
Project presentation --

October 19 -- reading of poetry in and from Spanish by < A HREF="">Donny Smith, whom you may know from McCabe Library, Swarthmore College

Week 7: What if the writer's so GREAT that it might as well be religious?
(Oct. 26) Make a "trot" from 8 lines of text you've read, annotate briefly with info about the author and tradition it's from, trade and work up, trade back and critique (in pairs or trios); present final version of second project, due today
Article presentation --
Project presentation --

October 26 -- reading in and from German by Marion Faber, Professor of German, Swarthmore College

Week 8: What is your relationship to past and future translators?
(Nov. 2) Overflow, if needed, from last week's reading of second project work; present a translation you like, with 2-3 pages as an example (enough copies for everyone).
Article presentation --
Project presentation --

Week 9: What if your translation will most likely be "the last word"?
(Nov. 9) Present a translation you find problematic, with 2-3 pages of text to illustrate; discuss final project shape in small groups.
Article presentation --
Project presentations --

Week 10: What theories have sprung from translation practice or theory?
(Nov. 16) Present part of final project for workshopping in small groups; discussion of helpful theories; strategize, schedule and plan student bilingual readings.
Article presentation --
Project presentations --

Week 11: What is the relationship of the translator to the writer?
(Nov. 23) Present another draft from final project in small groups; discuss shapes for large projects (including final portfolios here), comments and suggestions.
Article presentation --
Project presentations --

First class bilingual reading.

Week 12: How are translation theory and practice gendered?
(Nov. 30) Discuss the first student bilingual reading, individual pieces and overall impressions; discuss the translation biz; creative exercise
Article presentation --

Second class bilingual reading.

Week 13: Who is your favorite translator?
(Dec. 7)

Third class bilingual reading.

Final project (in place of an examination) will be due on December 14, the first day of exam period.