Translation Literary Studies News
Elizabeth “Tess” Helfrich, a biology and historical studies junior at The University of Texas at Dallas, hopes a distinguished scholarship will provide the next step in her journey toward practicing emergency medicine overseas.
Helfrich is the first Eugene McDermott Scholar to receive a Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program. She will spend the next year studying modern standard Arabic as well as the local Ammiya dialect at the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan.
The Boren Scholarship provides up to $20,000 for study in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East.
Helfrich is the University’s fourth Boren award winner. Aysha Khan received a Boren Fellowship for graduate students in 2017, as did Brian Couzelis in 2013. Hyunjoo “Eunice” Ko received a Boren Scholarship for undergraduates in 2014. Boren recipients are typically students interested in international studies and politics, but Helfrich sees the medical field as another path toward improving global relations.
“In my travels, I’ve seen the impact and honor that comes with being an American citizen more than ever before, but we obviously have some perception problems. Health care is a good way to change that, and UTD has let me find that path,” she said.
Helfrich already has a head start on reaching her goals. Her interest in Arabic language and culture was stirred when she attended a Michigan international high school, where about 45% of the population was composed of Arab Americans, many of whom were Muslim. She also studied basic Arabic for a semester at UT Dallas.
Additionally, Helfrich has medical experience as an emergency medical technician working with the University Emergency Medical Response team at UT Dallas.
“Everything’s different every day. You never know what you’re going to walk in on, and you have to make split-second decisions,” she said. “The EMT squad is so passionate and smart, and it’s so cool to see the care they place in their work.”
And she has experience living overseas. She spent last summer in Sierra Leone, shadowing physicians who were working on clinical trials of an Ebola vaccine in a pediatric ward. That’s where she saw a clash between Western medical training and cultural values.
“Some cultures see the blood as finite, so our standard practice of withdrawing blood is seen as taking their life force,” Helfrich said.
She hopes living in Jordan will give her further insight into cultural differences. She will supplement her Arabic studies by maintaining her UT Dallas coursework through independent study classes on topics such as women in the Middle East and public history. She also will have an internship that focuses on refugee health care.
“With her engagement with global affairs and emergency medical response, Tess is helping to expand the different meanings of national security that the Boren Scholarship seeks to promote,” said Dr. Douglas Dow, associate dean of the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College and clinical professor of political science. “Tess has an adventurous and cosmopolitan spirit in addition to her strong set of diverse academic interests. I’m very happy she will be representing UTD in Jordan next year.”
The UT Dallas Center for Translation Studies, one of the oldest academic centers for literary translation in the U.S., recently marked its 40th anniversary.
The center was created in 1978 by Dr. Rainer Schulte, professor of arts and humanities and the Katherine R. Cecil Professor in Foreign Languages, with the purpose of fostering and promoting the study and practice of literary translation. It was officially named in 1980.
“Translation is a model of communication across barriers. And once you think of it that way, everything changes,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor.
Kratz, who previously served as co-director of the center, said translation brings in everything about a culture and a writer to re-create a piece as fully and completely as possible.
“That means not taking ‘word A’ and making it ‘word B,’ but re-creating the impact of what was said in a new language. If the original made you cry, then the translation should make you cry,” he said.
Schulte described translation as a type of bridge.
“As you cross the bridge you have to leave some of your prejudices or some of your concepts behind and open yourself to new ones,” he said. “And the discovery of the new ones is frequently very exciting.”
Schulte said that at the time the center was created, translations of literary texts were primarily done in Europe. He wanted to change that.
“There were very, very few places in the United States where literary translation or translation in academia was taken seriously,” he said. “We built the center to train students, gain more respect for translation, and to support faculty members who work in literary translation.”
Faculty and students in the center also conduct research in cultural and cross-cultural communication, which, in collaboration with other literary associations and centers throughout the world, includes the development of writer and translator databases.
At about the same time the center opened, Schulte also launched the Translation Review, an academic journal that provides translators, scholars and readers a forum to dialogue about the importance of translation, to discuss the challenges in transplanting a text from a foreign culture into English, and to increase the visibility and status of the translator in the world. He also co-founded the American Literary Translators Association, a national nonprofit arts association that supports the work of literary translators and advances the art of literary translation.
Kratz said the work done by Schulte and others in the center has made a significant difference in how translation is seen by the academic community.
“He, in a very real sense, is the founder of translation studies as an academic discipline. There was a time when translation wasn’t taken seriously. But now, people get tenure for translating. Rainer in many ways singlehandedly fought this battle,” he said.
Schulte said the center is looking to the future, particularly at how digital media can help translators, researchers and readers. As an example, he said a poem could be further explored by offering links to multiple translations into English, interviews with scholars or other details that could improve understanding of the piece.
“Digital research is where the field of translation is headed, and I expect our center to be at the forefront of this movement,” Schulte said.
From a translation of a sprawling, 464-page Romanian novel to a study on the automobile as conceptual art, faculty from the School of Arts and Humanities have recently produced research on a wide range of topics.
Translation of ‘Blinding’
Dr. Sean Cotter has translated Blinding, a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu.
Dr. Sean Cotter, associate professor of translation studies and literature, has translated Blinding (Archipelago Books), a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu. The book is part “dream-memoir, part fictive journey through a hallucinatory Bucharest.” A bestseller in its home country, Blinding takes the reader on a “mystical trip into the protagonist’s childhood, his memories of hospitalization as a teenager, the prehistory of his family, a traveling circus, secret police, zombie armies, American fighter pilots, the underground jazz scene of New Orleans, and the installation of the communist regime.”
“A trilogy spanning more than 1,300 pages, Blinding is the most significant creation of contemporary Romanian prose, as much for its wide readership as its brilliant vision,” Cotter said. “A translation of the novel offers readers the opportunity to not just read about the Romanian text, but in a literal sense, to live through it.”
Last year, Cotter won the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in poetry given by Three Percent, the international literature magazine of the University of Rochester, for his translation of Wheel With a Single Spoke and Other Poems by one of Romania’s most influential poets, Nichita Stanescu.
Automotive Prosthetic by Dr. Charissa Terranova
Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (University of Texas Press), written by Dr. Charissa Terranova, assistant professor of aesthetic studies, combines critical and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art.
The study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, creating new forms of “conceptual car art.”
“The automobile functions as an apparatus — a prosthetic connected to the body and systems of infrastructure — through which to see and experience the world, both in motion on the highway and as a citizen interconnected to other citizens of the world. Here the car is fathomless. It is a mode of communication roving through a system of roads and within, as we will find, the culture of conceptual art,” Terranova wrote.
‘Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice’
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice by Dr. Charles Bambach
Philosophy professor Dr. Charles Bambachhas written a new book that examines the work of two philosophical poets who stand in conversation with the work of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice (SUNY Press) engages the works of two philosophical poets — Friedrich Hölderlin and Paul Celan — to rethink the question of justice in a nonlegal, nonmoral register by understanding it in terms of poetic measure.
“I try to offer close textual readings of poems from each that I see as defining and expressing some of the crucial problems of German philosophical thought in the 20th century,” Bambach wrote in the introduction of his book.
Bambach is also the author of Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National Socialism, and the Greeks and Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism.
With support from a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer stipend, Dr. Eric Schlereth recently completed archival research at several Texas institutions. Drawing from his research, he wrote and submitted an essay for publication that is forthcoming in the anthology Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution (Texas A&M University Press).
Dr. Eric Schlereth
Schlereth said the most exciting part of his research happened during a stay at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin. The Briscoe Center owns the diaries and correspondence of many Americans who took advantage of Mexico’s colonization laws to become Mexican citizens during the 1820s and early 1830s.
“These first-hand accounts provide a window into a moment in the history of the U.S.-Mexico border when Mexico had to deal with immigrants from the United States,” said Schlereth. “Perhaps the single most fascinating document that I found at the Briscoe Center was a passport issued in 1833 to a U.S. citizen. Incidentally, this passport is a large document considering its purpose. The original is 13 inches wide and 8 inches tall, and I find this nearly as interesting as the document’s content.”
The passport captures central themes in Schlereth’s current book project, Quitting the Nation: Expatriation and the Right to Leave the United States, 1776-1868.
“This passport highlights a period when U.S. citizens crossed international borders to join foreign nations or considered doing so as an expression of their rights. This history is important because it helps us reconsider assumptions that U.S. citizens in the early 1800s were confident in their political loyalties and in the future prospects of the United States,” Schlereth said.
According to the NEH, 920 people competed for 78 awards in 2013. Schlereth was one of three NEH stipend recipients in Texas.
‘The Problem South’
The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 by Dr. Natalie Ring
Associate professor of history Dr. Natalie Ring’s book The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 (University of Georgia Press), has garnered a string of recognitions. Ring was named a finalist for the Best First Book Prize by Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and she was also named one of three finalists by the Texas Institute of Letters for the Most Significant Scholarly Book Award.
Ring’s book focuses on the “New South” and the period when Northern philanthropies, Southern liberals and the federal experts targeted the South for what they described as “readjustment” or “uplift.”
“The Problem South posits that the effort to reincorporate the New South into the nation was as much a process of rehabilitation and reform as one of political and cultural reunion,” Ring said. Her book is one of the first to examine this endeavor in a global context at the height of U.S. imperialism.
Ring is also the co-editor of The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South (Texas A&M University Press) a collection of essays based on the annual Walter Prescott Memorial Webb lectures held at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), which is housed at UT Dallas, presented top awards to two separate collections of poetry at its annual conference, held in Kansas City on Nov. 17.
Lisa Rose Bradford received the 2011 National Translation Award for her translation of Between Words: Juan Gelman’s Public Letter (Coimbra Editions, 2010). The $5,000 prize is given annually to the translator whose work, by virtue of both its quality and significance, has made the most valuable contribution to literary translation.
Lisa Rose Bradford won the National Translation Award.
Charles Egan was honored with the 2011 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize for Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China (Columbia University Press, 2010). The $5,000 Stryk prize, which was established by an anonymous donor, recognizes the best book-length translation into English of Asian poetry or of source texts from Zen Buddhism.
Bradford teaches Comparative Literature at the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata in Argentina. She has edited two compendiums on translation and cultural studies and two U.S. poetry anthologies in Spanish. Three volumes of her translations of Juan Gelman have been published to date. In addition, Bradford’s poems and translations have appeared in various magazine and journals.
Between Words: Juan Gelman’s Public Letter consists of a series of poetic elegies addressed by the Argentinian poet-in-exile to his son, Marcelo, who disappeared in 1976 in Argentina’s “dirty war.” First published in Spain in 1980, Gelman’s work was warmly and enthusiastically embraced throughout the Spanish-speaking world, garnering the author numerous prizes, including the prestigious Premio Cervantes. Public Letter, in the words of Bradford, represents an attempt “to come to terms with sorrow and exile by showing how poetry can heroically rise up against death with incessant and poignant beauty.”
“This is more than just an honor; it is solid encouragement for the translator’s creative work,” said Bradford. “The conversion of Gelman’s rhythmic lines, intertextualities, unorthodox grammar, and wordplay into English requires a great deal of challenging inventiveness.”
Charles Egan was honored with the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize.
Charles Egan, winner of the 2011 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, is Professor of Chinese and Director of the Chinese Flagship Partner Program at San Francisco State University. His interests include Classical Chinese literature and culture, medieval China and Buddhism. He has published numerous articles on Chinese poetry, folk songs, and art, and is a frequent translator.
Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown presents 190 poems by monk-poets of the eighth to 17th centuries, in styles ranging from vernacular and direct to imagistic and evocative.
“I am deeply grateful to ALTA for this award, as it is recognition from those who really understand how difficult translation can be, my fellow translators. Given the vast differences between the Chinese and English languages, and the literary traditions of East and West, composing translations that both work in English and are true to the original sources requires a delicate balancing act,” Egan said.
The jury for the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize praised Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown for “not only the high quality of its translations, which strive to keep a handsome formal ease even when observing in English the demands of syntactic parallelism, but also the considerable scholarship that Egan employs with admirable accessibility.”
ALTA, which is housed at The University of Texas at Dallas, is dedicated to the promotion of literary translation through services to literary translators, forums on the theory and practice of translation, and collaboration with the international literary community. For more information, visit www.literarytranslators.org.
In 1990, Gjekë Marinaj was fleeing through the mountains from his home country of Albania into the former Yugoslavia. He was being pursued by Albanian secret police with tracker dogs. Marinaj’s crime: writing a poem.
“Horses” was a thinly veiled satire on the totalitarian oppressive system of the time. The same day the poem was printed in the newspaper, Marinaj was ordered to police headquarters. He never showed.
Eventually, he made his way to the United States and is now working on his doctorate in literature at UT Dallas. His research and work involve the philosophy of translation.
“I have received an incredible education at UT Dallas, and I hope to pass on what I’ve learned,” said Marinaj.
Sung Across the Shoulder: Heroic Poetry of Illyria is a collection of Albanian oral folk-poetry prepared by Gjekë Marinaj and Dr. Frederick Turner.
With Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities Dr. Frederick Turner, Marinaj has recently published Sung Across the Shoulder: Heroic Poetry of Illyria, a collection of Albanian oral folk-poetry.
Turning the poetry from spoken performance into print was no easy task. Since none of the poems had ever been written down, Marinaj traveled to inns and coffee-houses deep in the Albanian mountains to record the poets reciting their verse. Marinaj also photographed the speakers and the venues of their performances.
Back at UT Dallas, Turner and Marinaj began their collaborative work by listening to the recordings together and considering the photographs to determine whether or not a poem was fit for the book. The poem, if chosen, would then be translated, retaining its original tone, mood, style, diction, metrical form and rhyme.
“The whole collection, compiled under huge difficulties and at some personal sacrifice, is, I believe, an extraordinary and valuable achievement,” Turner said in Translation Review of Marinaj’s work.
The collection of poetry, however, is not Marinaj’s only recent accomplishment. He has also translated Turner’s books The Undiscovered Country: Sonnets of a Wayfarer and Out of Plato’s Caveinto Albanian.
Turner and Marinaj spent a week in May presenting the new books in Europe, stopping in Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.
“We met many fine poets, passionate and great of heart, but also astonishingly abreast of contemporary world literature and thought. We traveled widely across the snowy mountains, thundering gorges and Arcadian meadows of the Balkans, and I came to see why people have fought over it so fiercely through the centuries,” Turner said upon returning.
Marinaj will remain in Europe to complete research for his dissertation and other projects for the summer.
Marinaj earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UT Dallas, and is the author of many books of poetry and translation. He was awarded the 2008 Pjeter Abnori prize for literature by the International Cultural Center, part of the Albanian Ministry of Culture – an award given annually to an Albanian or international author in recognition of their ongoing contribution to national and world literature.
For UT Dallas’ literary journal, the title is new but the mission is the same.
Now known as Reunion: The Dallas Review, the magazine will keep doing what it’s done for more than two decades: publishing exceptional examples of short fiction, drama, visual art, poetry, translation work, non-fiction and interviews.
Previously known as Sojourn, the magazine remains dedicated to cultivating the local arts community and promoting the work of talented writers and artists, both locally and across the globe.
Editor Mickey Calderone explains the change in appearance: “We decided to rebrand the journal as Reunion: The Dallas Review because we wanted to affiliate ourselves more closely with the city of Dallas and its rich history.
“Reunion Tower is, of course, an iconic feature of the Dallas skyline. We are taking the journal in a new direction and hoping to branch out and connect with the city’s growing art community.”
Calderone thinks Dallas may be experiencing an artistic reawakening.
“We have seen UT Dallas’s CentralTrak program thrive and flourish over the past few years,” she said. “Our hope is that with the re-launch and promotion of Reunion, the literary journal and UT Dallas’s creative writing program will enjoy the same success.”
Anyone may submit to Reunion, whether you are just starting out and have no publishing credits to your name or are a seasoned artist who has been published multiple times. Submissions will be accepted through Dec. 1.
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), which is housed at The University of Texas at Dallas, presented two prestigious awards at its annual conference in Philadelphia on Oct. 21.
Alex Zucker received the 2010 National Translation Award for his translation of Petra Hůlová’s All This Belongs to Me (Northwestern University Press, 2009).The $5,000 prize is given annually to the translator whose work, by virtue of both its quality and significance, has made the most valuable contribution to literary translation.
ALTA also presented the inaugural Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize to Red Pine (Bill Porter) for In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). The $5,000 award, which was established by an anonymous donor, honors the best book-length translation into English of Asian poetry or of source texts from Zen Buddhism.
Richardson, Texas (August 30, 2010) – As part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s “México 200” celebration of the bicentennial of Mexican independence, acclaimed poet Homero Aridjis will give a reading on Friday, September 17, at 9:00 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art’s monthly Late Night. The bilingual reading will come from two of Aridjis’ poetry books, Solar Poems and Eyes to See Otherwise (both in English translation). A book signing will follow. This special event will be presented in partnership with The Center for Translation Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Late Night is held every third Friday of the month and the museum remains open until midnight. September’s Late Night includes performances in the galleries, Mexican films, creativity challenges, and family activities that celebrate Mexican culture, as well as an After Hours Music Showcase featuring the Tejas Brothers.
A poet of worldwide renown, Aridjis has published 38 books of poetry and prose, many of them translated into a dozen languages. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and numerous awards, including the Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Program on behalf of the environmental association he founded, International Group of 100, in 1987, and the Prix Roger Caillois from France for poetry and fiction in 1997. President Emeritus of International PEN and former Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands and Switzerland, Aridjis was until recently Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The poetry reading is open to the public, and is included in general admission to the Museum. Adults $10; students (with a current Texas ID) $5; children 12 and under and DMA members free.