COMPLIT 322 - Translating World Literatures
Winter 2017, Section 001 - Translation Workshop
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Writing on the “Task of the Translator” in 1923 (one of the foundational texts of translation theory, and one of the basic texts we’ll be referring to throughout the term), Walter Benjamin poses the deceptively simple question: "Is translation meant for readers who do not understand the original?" And later he argues, among other things, that translation is meant to liberate the language imprisoned in a text through the recreation of that text, and by doing so it “serves the purpose of expressing the central reciprocal relationship between languages.” “When two languages meet,” the Moroccan critic Abdelfattah Kilito counter-argues at the other end of the 20th century, “one of them is necessarily linked to animality: Speak like me or you are an animal.”

  • What is the task of the translator, then?  
  • Why translate?  
  • Who translates?
  • Is translation at all possible between languages that are positioned, for various reasons, at both ends of an asymmetrical power relation?

Drawing on a variety of theoretical and literary texts, this course is an interactive introduction to different histories and theories of translation, and it’s designed and meant to give students an opportunity to build on their skills in a foreign language by exploring the process of translating literary texts into English.  Students will compare various translations of “world literatures” and integrate broad theoretical concepts about translation into a series of creative translation exercises and short critical essays that emphasize the process of reading and re-writing texts.

The critical and creative writing assignments are designed to build on each other, enabling students to become more attentive readers, and to produce increasingly articulate responses to the translated texts, which in turn inform their own translation strategies. The course leads up to a final translation project, for which students will produce 8-12 pages (at least 3400 words in English) of a translation, into English, of a literary text from another language, prefaced by a 5-8 page introduction (2000 words) that reflects critically on their practice as translators.


Course Requirements:

Regular attendance and active participation in discussion. Timely submission of 6 short writing assignments and translation exercises. Participation in workshops for final translation project. Completion of final translation project.


COMPLIT 322 - Translating World Literatures
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
WF 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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