On Translation Interpretation Theory Capstone Course
Spring 2019
Fridays 2:00-5:00
Pearson 210

Sibelan Forrester Steven Hopkins
Office Hours: Office Hours:
Tuesday 11:15-12:15 Wednesdays 3:00-5:00
Wednesday 11:00-12:00
Thursday 1:00-2:00
...or by appointment or by appointment
* *
Office: Kohlberg 340 Office: Pearson 209
Russian; Mod. Langs. and Lits. Religion
610-328-8162 610-328-8035

| Assignments and grading | Books to purchase or borrow | Other readings | Syllabus |

This syllabus will be evolving as the semester moves along - please check it whenever you need information.

The Interpretation Theory program gives students and faculty a forum for exploring the nature of representation. This course will ask how things mean, approaching issues of translation from the points of view of literature and religion as well as other relevant disciplines.

As in any course that meets once a week, your attendance and preparation are vital to everyone’s experience. If you need to miss class for any reason, keep us informed and make up the work as soon as possible. Your grade in the course will reflect your participation as well as your work on other assignments.

Course Assignments:

  1. Post to the course blog at least once a week, with at least 500 word total. This can include comments and questions on the week’s readings and comments on other posts. Posts must be completed by noon on Thursday of that week – so we have time to read them before class.
  2. Each student will take over a class segment (about 60 minutes) two times during the semester. You choose the topic and are encouraged to suggest extra readings. Write a 5-6 page paper (2500-3000 words) on the topic ahead of the class; present the paper, bring in questions about your topic and guide the class discussion. Revise the paper after that class and hand it in by the following week’s class. These two papers may become part of your final assignment.
  3. Final project/seminar paper: For the last meeting of the semester, prepare either 1) a 25-30-page paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the professors; or 2) a 20-25 page translation of a text chosen in consultation with the professors, accompanied by a 5-page (more or less) introduction that contextualizes the author and text and describes issues that arose as you chose and produced this translation. As noted above, this assignment may include material from one or both of the presentation papers. Talk with both of us as you progress.


Responses on the class blog: 20%
First paper and class presentation/direction: 15%
Second paper and class presentation/direction: 15%
Final paper or project: 30%
Attendance and participation: 20%

If you believe you need accommodations for a disability or a chronic medical condition, please contact Student Disability Services (Parrish 113W, 123W) via e-mail at studentdisabilityservices@swarthmore.edu to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs. As appropriate, the office will issue students with documented disabilities or medical conditions a formal Accommodations Letter. Since accommodations require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. For detail about the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Services website at https://www.swarthmore.edu/academic-advising-support/welcome-to-student-disability-services. You are also welcome to contact us privately to discuss your academic needs. However, all disability-related accommodations must be arranged, in advance through Student Disability Services.

Course texts (most are for sale in the Bookstore) -let us know if you have trouble finding any of these:

Any items not listed here will be provided on the course Moodle page in pdf form.

Recommended background texts (most are in Tripod):


I. The Past and Present of Theory

Week I

Friday, January 25:
Introduction to the Seminar. Meditations on Borges. Blind Accuracies, Approximations, and Exactitudes

**Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” pp. 88-95 and “The Library of Babel, pp. 112-118, from Collected Fictions, Hurley, trans;
Borges, “The Translators of The Thousand and One Nights, in Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader, pp. 94-108.
** Optional, more from Borges: “Averroes’ Search,” pp. 235-241 and “The Book of Sand,” 480-483.

Week II

Friday, February 1
Some Classical Theories of Translation and Their Interlocuters [Guest Lecturer, Professor Rosaria Munson, Department of Classics, Swarthmore College]:

**Peter Cole, “Making Sense in Translation: Toward an Ethics of the Art,” in Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, eds. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means. New York (Columbia University Press), pp. 3-16;
Jerome (Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader, 21-30); Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt, Venuti, Reader, pp. 31-37; John Dryden (Venuti, Reader, 38-42); Friedrich Schliermacher, “On the Different Methods of Translating,” Venuti, Reader, pp. 43-63;
**Aleida Assmann, “The Curse and the Blessing of Babel; or, Looking Back on Universalisms,” in Budick and Iser, The Translatability of Cultures: Figurations of the Space Between. Stanford, 1996, pp. 85-100;
**Klaus Reichert, “‘It is Time’: the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible Translation in Context,” in Budick and Iser, The Translatability of Cultures: Figurations of the Space Between. Stanford, 1996, pp, 169-85;
**Hugo Friedrich, “On the Art of Translation,” translated by Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet, in Schulte and Biguenet, eds., Theories of Translation, pp. 11-16;
**Wilhelm von Humboldt, “From Introduction to His Translation of Agamemnon,” trans. by Sharon Sloan, in Theories of Translation, pp. 55-59.

Week III

Friday, February 8:
Competing Ambiguities: Translation, Difference, and Totalities

Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator: An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux Parisiens,” in Lawrence Venuti, ed. The Translation Studies Reader, pp. 75-85; also in **Illuminations, Arendt, ed., pp. 69-82;
Naomi Seidman, “Translator Culture,” from Faithful Renderings, pp. 153-98;
George Steiner, “The Hermeneutic Motion,” in Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader, pp. 193-198;
**Lori Chamberlain, “Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation,” in Venuti, Reader, pp. 254-268; also in Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology. London and New York: Routledge, 1992, pp. 57-74.
Optional for papers: **Samuel Weber, “A Touch of Translation: On Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Task of the Translator,’ in Berman and Wood, eds. Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation. Princeton, 2005, pp. 65-78; **Benjamin, “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man,”in Reflections, Demetz, ed., pp. 314-332;**Jacques Derrida, “Des Tours de Babel,” in Joseph F. Graham, Difference in Translation, Cornell University Press, 1985, pp.165-207; French text pp. 209-248; and “What is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” in Venuti, ed. The Translation Studies Reader, pp. 423-46.

II. Originals and their Inventions

Week IV

Friday, Feb. 15 [Guest Lecturer, Professor XU Peng, Chinese Section MLL, Swarthmore]:
The Original and the Invention: Pound, Fenollosa, and the Invention of China for Modern American Poetry

**From Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, “The Invention of China” and “The Persistent East,” pp. 192-231; “Inventing Confucius,” pp. 445-459;
Ernest Fenollosa, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, City Lights (entire: short essay, pp.3-45);
**Pound, trans. “Cathay,” from Translations, Hugh Kenner, ed. New Directions,pp. 189-204.
**Individual poems: See also, for comparison/papers, Mary Paterson Cheadle, Ezra Pound’s Confucian Translations. Michigan, 1997.

Week V

Friday, Feb 22:
Blood for Ghosts: Pound, the Cantos, and the Case for Provençal

Ezra Pound, “Guido’s Relations” (Venuti, Reader, pp. 86-93);
**From Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, “Motz el Son,” “The Invention of Language,” “Words Set Free,” “Knot and Vortex,” pp. 76-172;
**Pound, trans.: Cavalcante (“Canzone”), “Arnaut Daniel Poems,” and “The Seafarer,” from Translations, Hugh Kenner, ed. New Directions, pp. 132-141; pp. 144-185; 207-209. From Pound’s Cantos, “Canto I,” “And then went down to the ship. . .”
** Ezra Pound, “Il miglior fabbro” from The Spirit of Romance, pp. 22-38; optional, for papers, “Proença,” pp. 39-63;
Comparative Occitan/Provençal Translations Handout: We will compare/contrast Pound’s idiosyncratic translations from the Occitan with literal versions, such as those of Alan Press in his Anthology of Troubadour Lyric Poetry, along with those of Blackburn and others.

Week VI

Friday, March 1:
On Flower Wreath Hill: Translation with No Original. The Case of Kenneth Rexroth and the Michiko poems

**Emily Apter, “Translation with no Original: Scandals of Textual Reproduction,” in Berman and Wood, eds. Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation. Princeton, 2005, pp. 159-174;
Kenneth Rexroth, “Chinese Poems,” “The Silver Swan,” “On Flower Wreath Hill,” and “The Love Poems of Marichiko (translated by Kenneth Rexroth),” in Flower Wreath Hill: Later Poems. New York (New Directions), 1991.
“One Hundred Poems” and “One hundred More Poems:” Selections from the Japanese translations volumes (including “Marichiko”); John Solt, Sam Hamill, and Elliot Weinberger on Rexroth’s translations.
See, for papers, translation and gender: ** Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, “Wreaths of Thyme: The Female Translator in Anglo-Norman Hagiography” and **Anne Savage, “The Translation of the Feminine: Untranslatable Dimensions of the Anchoritic Works,” in Ellis and Evans, eds., The Medieval Translator. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies. Binghamton, New York, 1994, pp. 46-65; pp. 181-199.

III. Prose-Smiths and Folklore. Translators as Storytellers

Week VII

Friday, March 8:
Folklore, Prose, Proverbs, and Translators

Sibelan Forester, trans., examples from Baba Yaga, The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Folklore; Anthony Appiah, “Thick Translation,” in Venuti, Translation Studies Reader, pp. 389-401;
Donald Haase, “Decolonizing Fairy-Tale Studies,” Marvels and Tales, Vol. 24, No. 1, The Fairy Tale After Angela Carter (2010), pp. 17-38;
**Christi A. Merrill, “Are We the Folk in this Lok? Translating in the Plural,” in Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, eds. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means. New York (Columbia University Press), pp. 143-168.

Spring Break, March 9-17

IV. Translating Oneself and the Other (Self)


Friday, March 22:
Vladimir Nabokov: Translation and Autotranslation

Nabokov, “Problems in Translation: Onegin in English,” Venuti, Reader, 115-27;
Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, chapters I and VIII in translations by Walter Arndt, Douglas J. Hofstadter, Eugene M. Kayden, Vladimir Nabokov, Dorothea Prall Radin and George Z. Patrick; James Falen; Stanley Mitchell (all on Moodle);
Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (sample the DVD);
**George Steiner, After Babel, “The Claims of Theory,” pp. 248-311;
**Laurence Venuti, “Introduction” to Rethinking Translation (on Moodle), 1-17.

Week IX

Friday, March 29:
Anna Torres, Modern Yiddish Poetry>

**from Anna Torres, trans. Dvoyre Fogel. Mannequins (1934) MS.
**Naomi Seidman, “Translation and Assimilation: Singer in America,” in Faithful Renderings, pp. 243-275.

Week X

Friday, April 5:
Ein Gott Vermags: Only a God Can Do It. Transreading and Translating Rilke and Other Problems [Guest Lecturer, Professor Madalina Meirosu, German Studies, MLL, and Gender and Sexuality Studies]

William Gass, Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation. New York: Basic Books, 1999 (entire);
Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies. Bilingual edition, translated by Edward Snow. New York: North Point Press (FSG), 2000.
Comparative translations (handouts and on Moodle) from Leishman/Spender, Mitchell, Poulin, Snow.

V. Translation and Politics/The Politics of Translation

Week XI

Friday, April 12:
“The Art of Losing:” Miłosz, Poetry, and Politics

Clare Cavanaugh, “The Art of Losing: Polish Poetry and Translation,” in Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, eds. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What it Means. New York (Columbia University Press), pp. 234-244;
**from Czeslaw Miłosz, The Witness of Poetry, “Starting from My Europe,” “Poets and the Human Family,” “Ruins and Poetry,” pp. 3-37; 79-97.
Optional comparative reading on translation, reading, poetry, and politics: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “The Politics of Translation,” in Venuti, Reader, pp. 369-388.

Week XII

Friday, April 19
In the Presence of Absence. Rumi, Colman Barks, and Translating Darwish [Guest Lecturer, Professor Khaled al-Masri, Arabic, MLL, and Islamic Studies]

I. ** Annemarie Schimmel, “Sun Triumphal, Love Triumphant: Maulana Rumi and the Metaphors of Love,” from As Through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam, pp. 83-133;
** Selections from Jalal al-din Rumi, Mystical Poems of Rumi. Translated from the Persian by A.J. Arberry;
**Selected translations from Rumi by William Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love;
** Sselections from The Illuminated Rumi. Translations & Commentary by Coleman Barks. Illuminations by Michael Green. Broadway Books, New York, 1997;
** Rumi, “Leaping Poetry,” and the New Age: “Leaving Home,” Bly’s translations from Rumi, Kabir, Mira Bai, from Robert Bly, News from the Universe: Poetry of Two-Fold Consciousness, pp. 250-277;

Mahmoud Darwish, Mural, translated by John Berger and Rema Hammami. Illustrated by John Berger. London: Verso, 2017.
Darwish readings (different translation of “Mural” in Forché and Akash and Fady Joudah.
Comparative readings in contemporary Lebanese women poets from Professor al-Masri’s work. Translating Darwish and women poets. Gender and translation.
Optional background critical reading: Forest Gander, “The Great Leap: César and the Caesura,” in Allen and Bernofsky, In Translation, pp. 107-116.

VI. Translating Religious Worlds:
Tamil, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, Yiddish


Friday, April 26:
Flame or Caress: Measures of Time in the Practice of Translation. Tamil and Sanskrit Religious Worlds

Archana Venkatesan, A Hundred Measures of Time: The Tiruviruttam of Nammalvar. Penguin, 2014.>br /> ** from Steven P. Hopkins, he Flight of Love: A Messenger Poem of Medieval South India, New York (Oxford University Press), 2016, pp. 31-51; 58-63; 72-75; 80-89; 211-215.
Optional readings: ** Steven P. Hopkins, “Like a Flame or a Caress: Thoughts on Literary Translation,” MS. 2018.


Friday, May 3:
Willis’ Tiny Bible: The Poetics of Translation

Willis Barnstone, The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice. New Haven and London (Yale University Press). Entire (with an emphasis on Bible translation; Greek and Hebrew).
**Naomi Seidman, “Immaculate Translation: Sexual Fidelity, Textual Transmission, and the Virgin Birth,” in Faithful Renderings. Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation. Chicago (University of Chicago Press) 2006, pp. 37-72.
Selections from Willis’ translations from The Tiny Bible and The Collected Poems of Jesus Christ.

Inevitable Addendum:
A Translation is Never Finished, Only Abandoned

Along with material focused on in seminar, other possible topics for independent projects include:

Srinivas Aravamudan, Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language (listed anbove). See also Gayatri Chakravorthy Spivak, “Translating into English,” Berman and Wood, eds. Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation, pp. 93-110.

The translation of early Vedic hymns of ancient India: comparison of Doniger, Maurer, Panikkar, Renou, Geldner, Johnson, Macdonell, Insler; W.S. Merwin’s various translations and workings of European and Asian poetry; Eshleman on translating Vallejo and Cesaire; the work over many years of Jerome Rothenberg in his anthologies, including America: A Prophecy and The Big Jewish Book; translations of Walt Whitman into various other languages (it's his 200th birthday this year!); Martin Buber’s translation of the Bible; Shakespeare and Ovid (see Burgess’s biography); Proust and English (his and his mother’s translation/ “transreading” (in Gass’s sense) of John Ruskin; the history of Proust in translation (see Benjamin’s Proust); Dante in translation; Elie Wiesel in Yiddish, French, and English (new studies of Night); Heidegger, poetry, and translation; Derrida’s work and its implication for translation; translating Paul Celan; Barnstone on San Juan de la Cruz; Ann Carson translating Sappho; Todorov, language and signs, in The Conquest of America; Joyce translations, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake; Baudelaire translations, from Benjamin up to present; Rumi’s many translators; Rumi as “best-selling American poet;” Jim Harrison’s haiku; Sam Hamil’s Basho; Basho in Corman, Nuasa, Barnhill, Hamil; destinies of The Tale of Genji, Seidensticker and Tyler; Pasternak and Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy; Beowulf, Heaney and the Anglo-phile traditions; Rimbaud: variations on the Occitan troubadours, from Pound to Merwin, Blackburn, and Snodgrass; translation theory in Jakobson; and so many more themes/topics/authors to choose from. Translation of Russian literature: Korney Chukovsky, A High Art, trans. and ed. by Lauren Leighton; Translation of Latin American Literature: Suzanne Jill Levine, The Subversive Scribe.