Problems in Literary Translation

Problems in Literary Translation

Course Number: 
260
Course Catalog Number: 
32205
Course Type or Level: 
Instructor: 
Robert Alter
Days: 
Th
Time: 
2-5
Semester: 
Location: 
4125A Dwinelle

This course is based on the conviction that translation is an essential process for all students of comparative literature.  Obviously, everyone is dependent on translations in order to have access to the many literatures written in languages we do not know.  But more urgently for us as people who want to attain a full understanding of literature, the process of turning a rich literary text into English, word by word and sentence by sentence, illuminates like nothing else how language choices make literature what it is.   There are no secondary readings in this course.  Instead, each participant will be working on a translation project for the semester, and every week two of the members of the group will circulate specimens of their work, and the afternoon will be devoted to a discussion of these translation drafts.  There are no limitations on the language, genre, or historical period of the texts translated.   This is not a course that will give you "coverage" for your qualifying exams but it will give you a new and instructive sense of what literature is all about, something that has been confirmed by participants in this seminar in the past.