Why Translation Matters

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Memorial Union, Room 109, 4:00 p.m.
David S. Luft, Horning Professor in the Humanities, OSU

Professor Luft will present the first in a series of five lectures on the theme of translation. He will introduce this year’s Horning series with a talk on why translation is so important for the humanities, our culture, and the world.

David Luft joined the OSU History Department in the fall of 2008 as Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professor in the Humanities. He is the author of Eros and Inwardness in Vienna: Weininger, Musil, Doderer (University of Chicago Press, 2003) and Robert Musil and the Crisis of European Culture: 1880–1942 (University of California Press, 1980). He was also co-translator and co-editor with Burton Pike of Precision and Soul, the essays and addresses of Robert Musil (Chicago, 1990). Luft is currently working on another translation edition, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea, and writing an intellectual history of German-speaking Austria since the late 18th century: The Austrian Tradition in German Culture.

View Dr. Luft’s lecture.

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A Life in Translation

Thursday, November 15, 2009
Memorial Union, Journey Room, 4:00 p.m.
Professor Michael Henry Heim, University of California, Los Angles

Michael Henry Heim published his first translation, a collection of Chekhov’s letters, in 1972 and has regularly published translations of contemporary and classical prose and drama from a number of languages ever since. He will speak about how he was attracted to translation, how he learned the languages he translates from, and how he chooses the works he translates. He will also discuss the translation methodology he has developed over the years and the ways in which he applies it to the teaching of translation, illustrating his points with frequent quotations from his work.

Heim is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has taught for more than thirty-five years. He translates contemporary and classical fiction and drama from the Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Romanian, Russian, and Serbian/Croatian. His work includes Anton Chekhov’s Life and Thought: Selected Letters;The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera; Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal; My Century and Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass; Helping Verbs of the Heart by Peter Esterházy; and Encyclopedia of the Dead by Danilo Kiš. He has recently published new translations of Chekhov’s plays (Modern Library/Random House) and Mann’s Death in Venice (Ecco/HarperCollins) and is currently working on his first translation from the Chinese. At UCLA he teaches a Workshop in Literary Translation and is the adviser of the Babel Study Group for Translation Studies. He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships (Fulbright, Guggenheim) and translation prizes and served on translation juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the PEN American Center, and the Goethe-Institut. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

View Dr. Heim’s lecture.

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Translation, Intertextuality, Interpretation

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Memorial Union, Journey Room, 4:00 p.m.
Lawrence Venuti, Temple University

Intertextuality enables and complicates translating, preventing it from being an untroubled communication and opening the translation to interpretive possibilities that vary with audiences in the receiving culture. Professor Venuti will argue that to activate these possibilities and improve the study and practice of translation, we must theorize the relative autonomy of the translated text and increase the self-consciousness of translators and readers of translations alike. He will explore these ideas by considering several cases, including translations of David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago and of Sebastiano Timpanaro’s study The Freudian Slip, as well as his own version of Melissa P.’s fictionalized memoir, 100 Strokes of the Brush before Bed.

Lawrence Venuti, Professor of English at Temple University, is a translation theorist and historian as well as a translator from Italian, French, and Catalan. He is the author of The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (2008) and The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998) and the editor of The Translation Studies Reader (2004). His translations include the anthology Italy: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (2003), Massimo Carlotto’s crime novel The Goodbye Kiss (2006), and Ernest Farrés’s Edward Hopper: Poems (2009), for which he won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize.

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The Future of Translation

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Memorial Union, Journey Room, 4:00 p.m.
Burton Pike, City University of New York

Literary translation is a complex activity that has always been dependent on changes in culture and language. Over the past century these changes have been accelerating; the notion of national literature has faded, and writing has become increasingly international and to some extent increasingly local, bypassing in both directions the notion of nation. These new forms of writing and reading are calling into question attitudes toward translation as a bridge between cultures and toward translators as professional mediators between cultures.

Burton Pike is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and German at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has also taught at the University of Hamburg, Germany, Cornell, and Queens and Hunter Colleges of CUNY, and was a Visiting Professor at Yale. He has had a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1992 was awarded the Medal of Merit by the City of Klagenfurt, Austria, for his work on Robert Musil. He is a member of the PEN Translation Committee, and until recently a member of the Board of the International Musil Society.

Professor Pike wrote the first critical study of Musil (Cornell, 1961) and has edited and co-translated a number of his works: Robert Musil: Selected Writings (Continuum, 1986), Precision and Soul: Essays and Addresses (Chicago, 1990), and The Man without Qualities (Knopf, 1995), a translation which was awarded a special citation by the PEN/Book of the Month Club Prize. He has contributed chapters on Musil to The New History of German Literature (Harvard, 2004) and The Musil Companion (Camden House, 2007).

Pike translated and wrote the introduction to Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (Random House/Modern Library, 2004) and translated and wrote the introduction to Rilke’s novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Dalkey Archive Press, 2008). His translations of prose and poetry from German and French have appeared in Fiction, Grand Street, Conjunctions, Chicago Review, and other magazines. He also edited and wrote the introduction to Thomas Mann: Six Early Stories and has published The Image of the City in Modern Literature (Princeton, 1981) and numerous articles on the city.

View Dr. Pike’s lecture.

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Translation Is Writing: Borges in/on Translation

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Union, Journey Room, 4:00 p.m.
Suzanne Jill Levine, University of California, Santa Barbara

This lecture illustrates how essential Borges’ broad understanding of translation was to his poetics and practices as a writer.  The implications of translation as a paradigm for reading, writing, and critical interpretation bear fruit not only in his numerous translations, but also in almost every essay, poem, review, prologue, and story he wrote from the 1920s through to the 1980s. Professor Levine will highlight those four essays whose principal theme is translation—“Las dos maneras de traducer” (1926), “Las versions homéricas” (1932), “Los traductores de las 1001 noches” (1936), and “El enigma de Edward Fitzgerald” (1951)—as well as his quintessential ficción, “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote” (1939).

Suzanne Jill Levine is a leading translator of Latin American literature and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she directs a Translation Studies doctoral program. Her scholarly and critical works include her award-winning literary biography Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman (FSG and Faber & Faber, 2000) and her groundbreaking book on the poetics of translation, The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction (published in 1991 and reissued this year by Dalkey Archive Press, along with her classic translations of novels by Manuel Puig). Aside from her many volumes of translations of Latin American fiction and poetic works, she has contributed numerous essays and translations of prose and poetry to major anthologies and journals, including the New Yorker. Her many honors include NEA and NEH fellowship and research grants, the first PEN USA West Prize for Literary Translation (1989), the PEN American Center Career Achievement Award (1996), and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.  She has just completed a five-volume project as general editor of the works of Borges for Penguin Classics.

View Dr. Levine’s lecture.

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Welcome to: Translation: Crossing Borders, Crossing Cultures. The website for the 2009-2010 Horning Lecture Series at Oregon State University.

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