SCANDINAVIAN 250: Translation Theory and Practice

Tu 1-4 , Dwinelle 6415. Instructor: Christian Gullette

Units: 4

In this seminar, we will try, as Walter Benjamin observes, “To grasp the genuine relationship between an original and a translation,” delving into both ancient and contemporary theorical debates about the art of translation. Is the purpose of translation to convey “the form and meaning of the original as accurately as possible” or is there a transformation in which even “the mother tongue of the translator is transformed” as Benjamin argues? As translators, how should we approach formal questions of sound, meter, and rhyme and stylistic elements of voice, tone, and figuration? Can “originality” be translated and what are the implications of our presumptions about “equivalences” or “the untranslatable”? What kinds of erasures, resistances, and challenges occur when culture, history, colonialism, race, gender, and sexuality intersect with the act of translation? How do we choose what to translate? Is there a difference between “literary” and “non-literary” translation and what does it mean to consider the “receiver” when translating, particularly in a globalized, neoliberal economic context in which translation is dominated by corporate interests? Our seminar will explore such questions through an interdisciplinary approach that utilizes varied readings of classic and contemporary translation theory combined with Scandinavian texts and literary history. This seminar will also devote time to practicing select translation exercises as well as workshopping individual translation projects, with the objective of a solid foundation in translation theory and a polished work of translation.