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Office Hours, Fall 2014:
Translation is a fundamental human activity that occurs between languages, cultures, and forms of expression. Without translation, even the most erudite readers would have limited acquaintance with other cultures. Translation practice offers rich data for psycholinguistics and stimulating possibilities for creative writers, while the metaphor of translation has impacted many other kinds of intellectual and creative activity. This course will combine theory and practice, approaching translation in its full complexity as art and science. Our reading, discussion and practice will draw on points of view from creative writing, linguistics, and literary theory as well as the discipline of translation studies.
Note: The course can be taken for either Social Science (Linguistics) or Humanities (Literature; Russian) credit. Be aware of the requirements your registration choice entails (see below), and adjust in time if necessary.
If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact Leslie Hempling in the Office of Student Disability Services (Parrish 113) or email email@example.com to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs. As appropriate, she will issue students with documented disabilities a formal Accommodations Letter. Since accommodations require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact her as soon as possible. For details about the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Service Website. You are also welcome to contact me [the faculty member] privately to discuss your academic needs. However, all disability-related accommodations must be arranged through Leslie Hempling in the Office of Student Disability Services.
Some of our course work can be done electronically, but we’ll also generate lots of paper. Plan to store it in a convenient way.
Always make enough copies of your drafts for workshopping (the syllabus will specify: enough for the whole class, for a smaller
group, etc.), so you can get and keep written comments until you’ve finished the project concerned. If you can work out a way to
gather comments by sending out attachments of the document to me and your group, and thus saving paper, I will do all I can to
NB: I prefer to get things handed in electronically, since my comments on them will be more legible.
Consider becoming a member of the American Literary Translators' Association (ALTA). The student rate is a very reasonable $20 per year. Your membership will get you the ALTA Newsletter, the journal TR (Translation Review), the chance to join the often useful ALTAlk list, and a great annual conference (this year's in Milwaukee in early November; let me know if you want more information). See the ALTA web site for more information: at the moment it focuses on the annual conference.
At each class session we’ll discuss required readings, present and critique work in progress, do a focused exercise (on-the-spot translation; editing a brief text, etc.). After a few weeks, you’ll begin to present your work and research topics. Your participation will determine the quality of everyone's experience.
Anyone who has problems with the timing of the course should let me know right away, so we can figure out ways to work with it.
REQUIRED SPECIAL THINGS:
For the last three weeks of the semester or so, you will organize and perform in bilingual readings, ideally using material from the fourth written assignment (see below). If you have good ideas about this at any point, note them down and bring to class. Translators tend to be more diffident than poets or fiction writers — even if they’re also poets or fiction writers! — so think in terms of excitement: how to present your work and your author effectively.
Coursework and Grading:
Attendance and participation in class and readings accounts for 20% of your grade, plus an additional 10% for the final bilingual reading.
Two other Oral Assignments:
1) At some point during the semester, present and lead discussion of one book or article chosen from the Suggested list below (or found elsewhere, with instructor’s approval). Study the list and choose ahead of time to get something you’ll care about and enjoy. Ask provocative questions, help field questions from class members. Start with: what do you agree or disagree with, and why? What does this teach you about translation, what is its point of view? What does it omit? What is useful; what merely interesting? How does it relate to the other readings we have done, or to other important cultural opinions? You'll sign up for presentations in advance. Let me know if you’d like suggestions based on your interests, or if you would like guidance or suggestions about making an effective spoken presentation.
2) In the second part of the semester, youll present an outline of your work in progress — your final paper topic, or the portfolio of annotated translations that you’re preparing. Sign up to do this early enough that comments or suggestions could still be helpful.
Each oral presentation will count for 5% of your grade (10% total).
Four Written Assignments:
Any written project may be done in the form of a web page, if you prefer. In-class workshopping must be on paper (unless everyone has a laptop to bring to class). A final project on the web (...or a blog about your struggles with The Book of Genji?) can give readers immediate access to your work. (This may suit a research paper or translations of work now out of copyright more than translations of recent writing. You don't need permission to make a translation, but getting permission to publish can be a big hairy issue.)
|first translation||October 3||5%|
|second translation||October 31||10%|
|web project or bibliography||November 21||15%|
|portfolio or final paper||December 20||30%|
|presentation of reading||TBA||5%|
|presentation of final project||TBA||5%|
|presentation at final bilingual reading||TBA||10%|
On Reserve (in McCabe):
Suggested Readings (most are available in Tripod):
Online (just a brief selection):
In McCabe reference section:
Peter France, ed., The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation
(PR131 .O94 2000) — besides info on individual languages and literatures, there’s a sizable section on History and Theory of translation into English.
September 5: What makes you start translating?
Introduction to the course; overview of readings and assignments; establish small groups for the first assignment; Forrester’s Five Stages; Bly's Eight Stages; identify language groups in the class; work on a sample translation draft
Readings for Week 2: "Introduction," The Craft of Translation, pp. vii-xvi; Gregory Rabassa, "No Two Snowflakes Are Alike:
Translation as Metaphor," Craft 1-12; "Introduction," The Translation Studies Reader, pp. 1-9; “Foundational
Statements,” TSR 13-20; Jerome, “Letter to Pammachuis,” TSR 21-30; Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt, “Prefaces to Tacitus
and Lucian,” TSR 31-37; John Dryden, “From the Preface to Ovid’s Epistles,” TSR 38-42.
By Sept. 12: find a native speaker, choose a poem in his or her language, bring that information to class
September 12: Which famous writers began as translators?
Introduce everyone again, esp. anyone who wasn’t here last week; "false" translation; in small groups present and describe text chosen for first project (or even share the first rough draft); Rabassa, Jerome, d’Ablancourt, Dryden; example of formulating a research paper project: translation theory/practice/studies in Russia
Readings for Week 3: Margaret Sayers Peden, "Building a Translation, the Reconstruction Business: Poem 145 of Sor Juana Inés de la
Cruz," Craft 13-27; Friedrich Schleiermacher, “On the Different Methods of Translation,” TSR 43-63; Johann Wolfgang
von Goethe, “Translations,” TSR 64-66; Friedrich Nietzsche, “Translations,” TSR 67-68.
For Sept. 19, bring enough paper copies of your first project in progress to workshop it.
September 19: Why don't translators (usually) use pseudonyms?
Work up poem draft from a trot; Peden, Schleiermacheer, Goethe; Nietzsche; talk briefly about the second project; small groups: workshop first project poem
Readings for Week 4: Burton Raffel, "Translating Medieval European Poetry," Craft 28-53; “1900s-1930s,” TSR 71-74;
Walter Benjamin, “”The Task of the Translator,” TSR 75-83; Ezra Pound, “Guido’s Relations,” TSR 84-91; Jorge Luis
Borges, “The Translators of The One Thousand and One Nights,” TSR 92-106; “1940s-1950s,” TSR 109-12; Vladimir Nabokov,
“Problems of Translation: Onegin in English,” TSR 113-25.
For Sept. 26, find someone’s translation you like (1-2 pages, or a 1-2 page excerpt of something longer), bring in enough copies for everyone OR save scan pdfs so you can project in the classroom and be ready to explain what you like about it.
September 26: How is translating related to creative writing?
Raffel, Benjamin, Pound, Borges, Nabokov; present final versions of first project, discuss your experience and results. Form different small groups (if you desire) for the second project.
Readings for Week 5: Edmund Keeley, “Collaboration, Revision, and Other Less Forgivable Sins in Translation,” Craft, 54-69;
Roman Jakobson, “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation,” TSR 126-31; “1960s-1970s,” TSR 135-39; Eugene Nida,
“Principles of Correspondence,” TSR 141-55.
For Oct 3, start work on a piece or two of the second project. FIRST TRANSLATION IS DUE!
October 3: How have theories of translation evolved over the centuries?
Read first translation aloud; Keeley, Jakobson, Nida; describe your second project; in small groups: workshop part of second project (bring enough copies for small group comments)
Readings for Week 6: Donald Frame, "Pleasures and Problems of Translation," Craft, 70-92; George Steiner, “The Hermeneutic
Motion,” TSR 156-61; Itamar Even-Zohar, “The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem,” TSR
162-167; Gideon Toury, “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translation,” TSR 168-81.
For Oct. 10, bring 4-5 copies of a draft/drafts of your second project for workshopping. Start thinking about your final project – what does your second project suggest you'd enjoy doing?
October 10: What if the text to be translated is religious?
Frame, Steiner, Even-Zohar, Toury; ; another “false translation;” bring in someone else's brief translation that you like, present and critique them; small groups: present more drafts from your second project (bring 3 or 4 copies, for small groups) - I am happy to write comments on drafts and/or type comments into Word documents if you e-mail them to me.
Readings for Week 7: John Felstiner, "'Ziv, that light': Translation and Tradition in Paul Celan," Craft, 93-116; “1980s,”
TSR 185-90; Hans J. Vermeer, “Skopos and Commission in Translational Action,” TSR 191-202; André Lefevere, “Mother
Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theory of Literature,” TSR 203-219.
For Oct. 24, start annotated bibliography OR have consulted with professor about the web project.
October 24: What if the writer's so GREAT that the text might as well be religious?
Felstiner, Vermeer, Lefevere; compare 3-4 translations of a single work and discuss. Present what’s ready from your second project, due next week.
Readings for Week 8: William Weaver, "The Process of Translation," Craft, 117-24; Antoine Berman, “Translation and the Trials
of the Foreign,” TSR 240-253; Lori Chamberlain, “Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation,” TSR 306-21; “1990s,”
SECOND PROJECT IS DUE OCTOBER 31.
October 31: What is your relationship to past and future translators?
Present second project work by reading part of it (2nd project due today!); Weaver, Berman, Chamberlain; another false translation. Strategize on final bilingual readings.
Readings for Week 9: Christopher Middleton, "On Translating Günter Eich's Poem 'Ryoanji'," Craft, 125-41; Annie Brisset,
“The Search for a Native Language: Translation and Cultural Identity,” TSR 281-311; Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, “The
Politics of Translation,” TSR 312-30.
For Nov. 7, find a translation you like or find problematic, make enough copies of 2-3 illustrative bits for everyone and bring to class.
November 7: What if your translation will most likely be "the last word"?
Present a translation you like or find problematic, with 2-3 pages of text or scanned pdfs to illustrate your points; Middleton, Brisset, Chakrovorty Spivak; briefly describe final projects; in small groups: discuss final project shape in more detail, field questions and get suggestions.
Readings for Week 10: Edward Seidensticker, "On Trying to Translate Japanese," Craft, 142-53; Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Thick
Translation,” TSR 311-43; Keith Harvey, “Translating Camp Talk: Gay Identities and Cultural Trasfer,” TSR 344-64.
For Nov. 14: bring enough copies of part of final project to workshop. Continue working on annotated bibliography.
I WILL BE AWAY ON NOVEMBER 14 at the ALTA conference in Milwaukee: we'll have to figure out how to deal with the missed day.
November 14: What theories have sprung from translation practice or theory?
Seidensticker, Appiah, Harvey; present part of final project for workshopping in small groups; discussion of helpful theories; strategize, schedule and plan student bilingual readings; briefly describe topic of annotated bibliographies or web presentations.
Readings for Week 11: Jacques Derrida, “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” TSR 365-88; “2000s and beyond,” TSR
391-97; Ian Mason, “Text Parameters in Translation: Transitivity and Institutional Cultures,” TSR 399-410.
For Nov 21: complete the annotated bibliography or web presentation; bring enough copies of another part of final project to workshop.
THIRD PROJECT (BIBLIOGRAPHY) DUE NOVEMBER 21.
November 21: What is the translator’s relationship to the writer?
Derrida, Mason; present another draft from final project in small groups; discuss shapes for large projects (including both papers and final portfolios), comments and suggestions. Final plan for final bilingual readings.
Readings for Week 12: David Damrosch, “Translation and World Literature: Love in the Necropolis,” TSR 411-28; Sherry Simon, “Translating Montreal: The Crosstown Journey of the 1960a,” TSR 429-50; Vincente L. Rafael, “Translation, American English and the National Insecurities of Empire,” TSR 451-68.
December 5: How are (are?) translation theory and practice gendered?
Discuss/critique first student bilingual reading, if it already took place—individual pieces and overall impressions; Damrosch, Simon, Rafael; discuss the translation biz; creative exercise; further planning for any bilingual readings that haven’t yet taken place.
Readings for Week 13: Michael Cronin, “The Translation Age: Translation, Technology, and the New Instrumentalism,” TSR 469-82;
Lawrence Venuti, “Geneologies of Translation Theory: Jerome,” TSR 483-502.
Attend and participate in the final bilingual readings!
MONDAY, December 8: Who is your favorite translator?
Cronin, Venuti; readings from final projects.
Again: attend and participate in the final bilingual readings!
Final project is due December 20 to my office, Kohlberg 340. E-mail submission is even better: send to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. on December 20.
What will you do now?