In understanding a new culture through literature––especially through translation and languages—we want to get straight to the specificities but also avoid stigmatization, excessive explanations, or stereotypes of the cultures in our translations and writings. How do we do that? What should we be aware of? What techniques can we use as translators translating into English, to be in tune with the works that are meant to manifest their own meanings/stories, instead of educating the Western audiences about their cultures? What can we do in our translations to bring in the positive “unexpectedness” and bring the works out of unnecessary colonial/conventional contexts?
In this six-week translation workshop, we’ll be reading from works of translations that apply unique techniques to bring new, non-stereotypical perspectives to the English-speaking audiences. We will talk about queering translations, gender, finding the natural flow, and how we have conversations with a literary landscape that defines different cultures with stereotypes and colonial contexts. How do we get out of this position and let international voices be heard in the best possible ways?
This workshop is meant to build a safe space for us to brainstorm ways to steer away from stereotypes while we work on our translations. Students are encouraged to share relevant perspectives, backgrounds, and processes. We will also focus on ways to highlight disappearing cultures and languages through translation, as well as meaningful politics that can potentially motivate us to let our voices stand alone––for our authors and for ourselves as translators.
Each student will get a chance to workshop up to 15 (double-spaced) pages of their translation, whether starting a new one or a work-in-progress. Students can come to class with a project already in mind/begun, or workshop translations of work that are in conversation with our class topic. We will also address ways we can have conversation with the publishing field, to let our works of translation shine without the shadow of cultural stigmatization or erasure.
*No class on Jan. 17 & Feb. 14
One full-ride scholarship will be awarded for this class. To apply, please send [email protected] your bio and a brief (100-word) statement on why taking this class is important to you by December 20, 2022 with the subject line "Jenna Tang Workshop Scholarship".
Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities. Note that you will not be able to view recordings of your class meetings if you miss them. For more information, please review our FAQ.
- Familiarity with creative translation techniques to steer away from bringing excessive stereotypes and explanations to our works.
- Space and time to generate new translation projects and engage in conversations about ways we can let identities of international works, or ourselves, stand alone.
- A safe place and community for you to grow as a translator.
- How to put together pitches/proposals for our translation projects.
- 30-minute one-on-one meetings with the instructor
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
This is a generative translation workshop, and every student will get a chance to submit their translation (up to 15 double-spaced pages) once, getting oral feedback from peers and the instructor. The translation can be a complete new project or your work-in-progress, and any genres (poetry, nonfiction, fiction) are welcome.
Every week, prior to class, we’ll be reading 1-2 readings for in-class discussions. By the end of the class, we’ll come up with a list of creative techniques to translate against stereotypes that are useful for us as translators in the long run.
This is a safe space to share your writing and projects. This is also a community where you don’t need to overly explain yourself. Let’s enjoy discussing our challenges in the process of translation, and bring meaningful works to the world!
Week 1: Introduction: Discuss Stereotypes, Stigmatization, and Representation
Week 2: Getting Out of Here: Use Creative Techniques to Bring New Cultural Perspectives
Week 3: Gender and Queering Translation
Week 4: How does translation and culture interact with the diaspora?
Week 5: Hybrid Literary Forms to Translate Against Cultural Stigmatization
Week 6: Pitching- How do we have conversations with publishers, editors, and the literary community
Jenna Tang is a literary translator based in New York. She translates from Chinese, French and Spanish. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her translations and essays are published in Restless Books, Latin American Literature Today, AAWW, McSweeney's, Catapult and elsewhere. Her interviews are at World Literature Today and Words Without Borders. She is a selected translator for the 2021 ALTA Emerging Translators Mentorship with a focus on Taiwanese prose.
"Jenna Tang is doing incredible and important work as a translator and writer. She is so generous and always opens the door for others. Her work challenges the status quo and creates a space for resonant stories and writers to find many audiences and communities across languages and borders. She helps us see what is possible in the literary world and how to find our way toward it. I can't think of anyone I'd rather learn from more!"
“Jenna Tang works tirelessly and generously to promote literature in translation and to build community within the translation sphere. As a translator from Taiwan now based in the US, she moves fluidly between the cultures she translates from and to, probing the bounds of the English language and seeking out voices who have hitherto not received sufficient attention.”
“As a translator, Jenna is fundamentally a community builder. A bridge-builder on the page and within groups she crafts with sensitivity and nuance, translating not only between languages but complex identities and beliefs. Her work supports shared understanding through a profound respect for cultures and individuals.”
“Jenna is a thoughtful translator and creative spirit who works from multiple lineages and myriad inspirations, toggling between the minutest of details and big-picture issues in a text with ease. Warm and inquisitive, she's committed to community in all senses and brings passion and energy to every one of her endeavors.”
“Jenna made each one of us feel valued and comfortable during class. She was a fantastic teacher, genuinely enthusiastic about the subject. Her thoughtfully-prepared class discussions were directly applicable to my translation practice, and I am now a better translator because of it.”
"Jenna is a fantastic instructor! Her workshop was so engaging. She expertly mixed questions of languages, poetic, inspiration, and translation. That’s something I had been looking for a long time in a workshop. I learned new tools to write about languages. Jenna’s constructive feedback encouraged me to keep writing about languages and exploring migration in organic ways. The discussions resonated throughout my week outside the online meeting: I kept feeling engaged, researching, and writing."