COMPLIT 260 - Europe and Its Others
Section: 001 Milkmen, Rabbis, Ghosts and Prostitutes: Translating Jewish Traditions
Term: WN 2010
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
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May not be repeated for credit.
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What can translators do with the untranslatable? How much power does the translator have over the meaning of the text? Can a film ever be just like the book? What happens to a text when it is translated or transferred to another language, medium, parody, or context?

Using modern East European Jewish literature as a case study, we will explore these questions in ways that apply to other cultures as well. How does a blaspheming milkman with homoerotic tendencies become a jolly Jew singing to his wife, “Do you love me?” Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye becomes a very different man in America’s Fiddler on the Roof. The villain of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” is rehabilitated in a short Russian poem, “Shylock,” and Pushkin’s “Prophet” is Judaized in a Hebrew one. Drawing on the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, Western literature, and folklore, Jewish writers paraphrased, parodied and transformed their source material into modern new creations. As much of this new Jewish literature mocked or subverted traditional beliefs, it also presented problems for English translators. How can the culturally specific jabs at tradition be conveyed to an American, and possibly nostalgic, audience? Mindful throughout that we are using such translations in the course, we will compare different English translations of short texts, parodies with originals, films with the plays and novels on which they are based, and transfers to other cultures and contexts.

The course aims to develop students’ critical and comparative reading skills as well as research and writing skills. Requirements include: Class preparation and participation, a class presentation on a work of translation theory, several short (up to one page) writing assignments, two short papers (5-6 pages), and one longer research paper (8-10 pages). Two drafts of each paper will be submitted before the due date. There is no language prerequisite for the course; however, students will have the option of using relevant foreign languages in the research for their papers.

COMPLIT 260 - Europe and Its Others
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
ISBN: 0143105604
Tevye the dairyman : and Motl the cantor's son, Author: Sholem Aleichem ; translated by Aliza Shevrin ; introduction by Dan Miron., Publisher: Penguin Group 2009
ISBN: 0815628722
The dybbuk and the Yiddish imagination : a haunted reader, Author: edited and translated from the Yiddish by Joachim Neugroschel., Publisher: Syracuse Press 1st ed. 2000
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