Translation is an embodied act. When we translate, we write, and when we write, we write from and through the entirety of our experience, which is inevitably shaped by how we are situated in the world: what registers of English we’ve grown up with, what literary traditions we’ve had access to and are familiar with, what communities we feel we are translating for. Who gets to translate? Who is translation for? Does it matter who translates what?
In this two-day workshop, you’ll find an excerpt from a text you’d like to try translating which forces you to consider how your own background might inform and enrich your ability to bring this text into English. Along the way, we will reflect on our own personal relationships to our source language, as well our relationship to the English language. What motivates us to translate from this language particularly? What do we hope to accomplish by doing so? How do we approach translating things like dialogue, dialect, humor, or accent in ways that are both resourceful and respectful?
Students may translate from any language or literary genre, but all will be translating into English. Fluency is not required, but students should have enough reading ability in their chosen language to undertake a short translation with the aid of a dictionary. No previous translation experience necessary!
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Familiarity with the craft of literary translation, particularly how craft can be informed and enriched by one’s ethical commitments to the text
- Constructive, personalized feedback from peers and instructor on a short translation sample
- A toolkit of ideas for how one might approach translation problems that specifically involve translating across race, class, and gender, e.g. things like dialogue, dialect, accent, humor, etc.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students should expect to read about 30 pages of assigned reading material outside of the class, and be ready to discuss the text with their peers and with the instructor. They will also submit a short translation sample of 3-5 pages, which they will then workshop with peers on the second class session. Finally, they will also submit a brief “translation diary,” which will include a record of mistakes made, questions they struggled with, and any successes they had.
-Discussion of translation 'problems' related to translating race/class/gender
-Discussion of published examples
-Short exercises on translating race/class/gender
-Pair work in which students will work through a translation problem related to race/class/gender together
-Group discussion and workshopping of student work
Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda is is a writer, teacher and translator from Japanese. She received her BA in English from Wesleyan University and her PhD in Japanese Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Born in Tokyo, raised in Texas, she currently divides her time between Iowa City and Boston, Massachusetts.
"I loved working on the translations as a group, learning from other translators' solutions, being in a welcoming environment, and learning that there are other people in the world that perceive the world in a way that is similar to me."
"The translation workshop that Lisa organized was a really special space. It felt so welcoming and ready to meet people where they were in their translation journeys, regardless of where that was. I particularly loved that we got to spend a large chunk of time in breakout rooms getting to know other participants and hear their perspectives. Also, I really appreciate that she sent out so many resources and ways for people to stay connected. This was such a great experience, and it really stood in contrast to other workshops without a focus on heritage translators and translators of color."