Literary Translation

Translation studies, and the practice of literary translation, in particular, have over the past couple of decades moved to the center of humanistic inquiry. This concentration explores these fields and encourages students to engage with the considerable cultural resources New York has to offer as a world-class hub for publishing, television, and film, the fine arts, and other cultural industries.

Literature in translation is moving into the foreground of the literary culture of the United States, as evidenced by the 2018 re-launch of the National Book Award for Translated Literature, the new Greg Barrios Book in Translation Prize from the National Book Critics Circle, and the rise of translation-oriented print and digital initiatives such as Archipelago Books and Words Without Borders (all NYC-based). As the Translation Database shows, the number of translated books published in the United States has dramatically risen over the past decade: 389 translated books are listed for 2008, and 812 for 2018.  Moreover, the  translation and interpretation job sector has been singled out as one of the fastest growing in the country by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Correspondingly, Translation Studies is thriving as an interdisciplinary scholarly field.

The concentration offers students a strong grounding in theory and history, local and global contexts, and multimedia applications of literary translation. With advanced, specialized training in the literature and cultures of their chosen national language areas, the program’s students become skilled critical readers and editors of translations, able to create impactful translations of their own in a variety of styles and genres. Community-building across borders is vital to twenty-first century careers and scholarship, and the program also prioritizes students’ participation in New York-based and international cultural institutions that focus on translation. The wealth of current scholarship around translation and the thriving communities of literary translators and literary translation scholars that produce it offer students a wide gamut of opportunity. 

 

Core Courses

MALS 73900 Introduction to Translation Studies

Literature is unimaginable without translation, which challenges prevailing concepts of the original. Among the aesthetic, ethical, and political questions it raises—questions increasingly crucial to practitioners of literature worldwide—are: Who translates? Who is translated? What is translated? And—yes—how? And also: what does it mean to think of literature prismatically rather than nationally? What might an anti-colonial translation be?  This course will investigate these questions and others by examining histories and theories of literary translation, as well as by considering the role of the translator in the context of publishing, media, film, and “world literature”. Students will consider and critique the politics of literary translation, as well as compare and evaluate how translation shapes texts read in translation. Finally students will engage in the process of thoughtful curation of literary texts for translation and in the practice of translating literature.

MALS 74000 Special Topics in Translation Studies

The field of translation studies has grown exponentially over the last few decades generating active debates among translators, scholars, and publishers throughout the world. This course will introduce students to certain vital aspects of the discipline and its intersection with other fields including various national literatures and area studies, linguistics, sociology, philosophy, and others. The course will focus on a specific topic related to the practice of literary translation including the history and theory of translation, linguistic approaches to translation, intermedial adaptation, the politics of world literature, and other emergent areas of scholarship in translation studies.

Associated Faculty

Other faculty whom have taught core courses or electives, or supervised theses and capstones for this concentration include Esther Allen (French, Spanish, LILAC), Giancarlo Lombardi (Comparative Literature), Bettina Lehrer (Comparative Literature), and Elazar Elhanan.