Translation Lecture and the National Book Critics Circle Awards

Posted on January 24, 2012 by Scott Esposito

Some recent news from the translation sphere—first up, the University of California at Berkeley's French Department will be offering a lecture on March 2 on an issue dear to many translators: trying to find a place for the discipline in higher education. Here's the description from Cal's website:

The Observer’s Robert McCrum declared 2011 a “boom year” for translation. It saw the anniversary of the King James’ Bible, the flourishing of literature in translation (Stieg Larsson, Haruki Murakami) and a new English version of the Roman missal. At the beginning of 2012, we may all be familiar with Google Translate and David Bellos’ much- celebrated book on translation. Where translation is not flourishing, however, is in higher education. In this lecture, I argue that translation deserves a more central position in higher education in the United States. I begin by considering the place of translation today: why is it considered old-fashioned as a pedagogical tool? Why are there so few courses and programs in translation? Why should it be accorded a larger role in higher education? The main section of the lecture focuses on translation from the perspective of a language instructor. Translation can offer significant theoretical insights. We will explore what it can reveal about languages, people, culture and texts. It also has many practical applications. We will consider its use in the language classroom and how it can be incorporated into language programs. The final section looks to the future: What do new media, social networking and globalization mean for translation?

And secondly, earlier this week the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle's 2011 awards were announced. Two of the five "Criticism" nominees deal quite deeply with translation. David Bellos' book Is That a Fish in Your Ear? is all about translation, and Dubravka Ugresic's Karoke Culture is a translated work, published by the wonderful Open Letter Press.