Ethical Translation: Eye on Race, Gender, and Queerness (LIT4392.01)

Mariam Rahmani

Designed to help students build their own ethical translation practices—with attention to issues of race, gender, and queerness—this course offers an introduction to translation via a hands-on approach. What pronouns do you use when translating from a language that doesn’t have gendered pronouns? Do you translate slurs? We will tackle these questions, plus the basics, thinking about a work’s tone, audience, and sociohistorical context in order to bring it to life in English. The course consists of two concurrent threads pursued via a seminar and workshop portion each week:

In the seminar we read essays by practicing translators alongside their translations in order to: a) understand theories and methods of translation, with an eye on race, gender, and queerness; b) read and understand global literature in translation; c) understand how theory can be put into practice, and how practice informs theory. From Emily Wilson’s feminist and race and class-conscious approach to the classics to Susan Bernofsky on the importance of revision, from John Keene’s theses on translating Blackness to my own reflections on antitrans sentiment in queer Iranian lit, our readings offer concrete ways to translate accurately and responsibly.

The workshop portion of the class helps you build your own literary translation practice from the ground up.

The course thus requires you to be self-driven and committed to actively engaging in your peers’ work as much as your own. You choose your own translation projects. All written languages are welcome for source texts and all literary genre (i.e., poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction); but translations into English only. Our multilingual, multigenre course method uses this diversity as a strength, rather than a limitation. Working knowledge of a second language is required, but no prior translation experience. You need not consider yourself a writer in English to successfully translate; you must simply be well read and committed to the cause. Beginners are both welcome and encouraged: if you like to read and have some second-language skills, you can—and should—translate!

Learning Outcomes:
- To understand the challenges of translation both ethical and in terms of craft.
- To understand, via model translations and essays on translation, ethical translation practices that confront such challenges.
- To develop skills in literary translation, culminating in your own ethical translation practice.
- To become better critics, of our own work and of others.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Submit a complete application as a single PDF or Word document (i.e., file extensions must be .pdf, .docx, or .doc) with your name on the top of page one and in the document title (i.e. Rahmani.pdf etc.) via this form by May 15, 2023. No GoogleDoc or shared drive links will be accepted. Include the following: - A one paragraph (150-250 words) response about a recent work in translation you read, with a citation at the top including the author’s name, title of the work, translator’s name, year of original publication, and year of translation publication. This might be a novel, short story, poem or essay. You can either analyze the text or respond more informally with what you liked or disliked. - Two to three works you might be interested in translating yourself in workshop. Provide citations as above: author’s name, title of the work, translator’s name, year of original publication, and year of translation publication. If a short story or poem found online, also provide the link. Do this but don’t sweat it: You will not be bound to your submissions; it’s simply to get you thinking! - A list of languages you have and your proficiency in each using the following designations: beginner, intermediate, advanced, native/fluent. If you’d like to provide a line or two of how long (or to what level) you’ve studied a language, feel free.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature