Tu/Th 03:30-05:00 235 Dwinelle Instructor: Diana Thow
“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across.’ Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.” –Salman Rushdie, “Imaginary Homelands”
What is translation? The term is often used to indicate anything transferred, adapted, communicated, displaced, or interpreted. What does it mean when something is “lost in translation”? What is the difference between a translator and an author? Why are some texts considered “untranslatable”? In this class we will examine translation as a creative process that bears meaning from one language to another, and think about the wide variety of metaphors implied by the term. We will also examine the figure of the translator in a broad range of literary texts and films in an effort to understand how translation, as a metaphor and a practice, enables movement, transferal, transformation, adaptation, interpretation, but also loss.
In addition to our examination of the figures and metaphors of translation, this class will approach translation as an analytical tool of comparison and close reading. Over the course of the semester we will read many works of literature in translation and perform close comparative analyses of various versions of the same translated passages. In performing these comparative analyses we will think about translation as a model of close reading, a way of getting to know the text from the inside out. Since our focus in this class will be to hone our analytical reading and writing skills, translation will also provide us with a model of how to make interpretative claims about the meaning of a text in an engaged, creative, and productive way.
Texts and films for the course will be selected from the following:
Italo Calvino, If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler
Brian Friel, Translations
Vassilis Alexakis, Foreign Words
Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Ben Lerner, Leaving Atocha Station
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin
Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions
Weinberger and Paz, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei
Amara Lakhous, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation