Welcome to the Literary Translation Seminar at Boston University

Where Every Word Matters…

The Boston University Literary Translation Seminar was given shape and nurtured for nearly 30 years by the distinguished poet and translator Rosanna Warren. Our guest speakers have come from a variety of backgrounds and shared both practical and theoretical approaches to translation. They have included Frank Bidart, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky, Donald Keene, David Ferry, Robert Fitzgerald, Cola Franzen, Seamus Heaney, John Hollander, H. Mack Horton, Richard Howard, Parker Huang, Salma Jayyusi, Rika Lesser, Charles Simic, George Steiner, Rosmarie Waldrop, Eliot Weinberger, and many others.

The seminar unites two complementary parts: a full-scale academic seminar and a free public speaker series that draws audiences from all over the university community and the Boston area. On Mondays, the enrolled students wrestle with landmark writings in translation theory, practical translation exercises, and the major translation project each student undertakes during the semester.  On Fridays, this classwork comes into dialogue with some of the most exciting literary translators working in America today.

The extended format of the Friday talks – they run from 1 to 3pm – lets us move beyond a prepared presentation into a hands-on discussion of textual details and particular translation choices: the realm of the translator’s sharpest frustration and deepest fascination, where every word matters.


Here were our 2014 Guest Lecturers. (Next offering: Spring 2015.)

See the “Lecturers” tab for more information.

1/24/14 – Sergio Chejfec & Heather Cleary

The Art of Getting Lost (in translation)

1/31/14 – Fady Joudah

Translation as Metaphor

2/7/14 – A.M. Juster

From Horace to Housman: The Challenges of Translating Formal Poetry in Romance Languages into English Formal Poetry

2/14/14 – George Kalogeris

DIALOGOS: Paired Poems in Translation

2/21/14 – Anna Elliott

Haruki Murakami Translated: The Globalization of Modern Japanese Fiction

2/28/14 – Sinan Antoon

Translation and the Work of Mourning

3/28/14 – Rosanna Warren

Hearing Voices: Translating from Latin and French

4/4/14 – Susan Bernofsky

Pinning Down the Beetle: Kafka and Beyond

4/11/14 – Tararith Kho & Aisha Down

The Road Has No Name

4/18/14 – Ammiel Alcalay

“Unrelieved” History: A Belated Prologue for American English Translation

4/25/14 – Dick Davis

Veiled Voices: Who Speaks in Translation?


Information for Spring 2015 will appear in this space eventually!