NEH banner

Funded Projects Query Form
One match

Grant number: AQ-51076-14

Query elapsed time: 0.024 sec

Save this query
Export results to Excel

AQ-51076-14

Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT 05753-6004)
Timothy Billings (Project Director: 09/13/2013 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Problems of Translation

The development of an undergraduate course highlighting historical and cultural issues related to the translation of texts from one language to another.

The development of an undergraduate course highlighting historical and cultural issues related to the translation of texts from one language to another. In six units, the course pairs critical writing about translation with multiple translations of primary sources. Unit one, Is anything lost in translation? begins with an examination of fundamental problems of translation related to language, cognition, and culture with excerpts from Cicero, St. Jerome, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Edward Sapir, and Benjamin Whorf, in addition to selected chapters from David Bellos's recent book, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Unit two, What is lost when we translate sacred texts? surveys the historic debates over Biblical translations in Europe, with readings including (among other sources) Purvey's prologue to the Wycliffe Bible, the translators' preface to the King James Bible, and Eugen Nida's seminal work on "dynamic equivalence." Students then read Books I and II of Genesis (covering the cosmogony and the tower of Babel story) in over a dozen versions from the Coverdale to the Revised Standard Catholic. Unit three, What is lost when we translate poetry? tests Bellos's proposition that such translations "cannot be 'poetry' itself." Students see how this idea is contradicted and confirmed by reading (among other works) a dozen translations of book one of The Iliad. Unit four, What is lost when we translate "exotic" languages? explores how the assumptions translators make about other cultures can affect their translation choices. The class reads "The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince" from One Thousand and One Nights in a dozen versions from the Victorian period to the present. They also discuss the preservation of lost Greek texts in Arabic translation during the Abbassid. Unit five, What is lost when we translate texts we can't understand? explores the implications of translation as a creative personal process and the assumptions made in the face of cultural, linguistic, and historical differences. Primary focus is on the classic of Daoism known as the Tao Te Ching. The final unit, What is gained when we translate? explores new paradigms to see what they may contribute to our understanding of the enduring question, while delving further into the creative potential of translation as a form of translingual artistic collaboration. Students read excerpts from the seminal work by Pound on "ideogrammic" translation, Lefevere on translation as "re-writing," De Campos on translation as "cannibalism," Liu on neologisms in "translingual practice," Niranjana on translation as "Orientalism," and Bassnett and Bellos on translation "hegemonies" and the global market.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Comparative Literature

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$21,886 (approved)
$21,625 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2014 – 4/30/2017