Guest Lecturers

2019 Translation Seminar Guest Lecturers

Lectures are held Fridays 1-3pm in STH 625, at 745 Commonwealth Avenue, and are open to the campus community and the public.

Recordings will be available on the Wednesday following the lectures here.

February 1st: Paul Raccuglia

Machine Translation: Principles and Peculiarities

Paul Raccuglia works on problems in machine learning, machine learning fairness, and natural language processing, most notably: applications of machine translation in Google Search; speech recognition and language understanding on the Amazon Echo; and machine learning for exploratory synthesis in materials science (work which was featured on the cover of Nature).

February 8th: Jefferson Kline

Crossing the Channel: Translating Merle’s Fortunes de France for an Anglo-Saxon Audience

Jefferson Kline, Emeritis Professor of French at Boston University, is the author of Bertolucci’s Dream Loom; Screening the Text: Intertextuality in New Wave French Cinema; Unraveling French Cinema, and a variety of essays on French and European literature and film. He has also edited, with Tom Conley, the Jean-Luc Godard Companion, at Wiley-Blackwell; Bernardo Bertolucci Interviews (with Fabien Gérard), Agnès Varda Interviews, Bertrand Tavernier Interviews (with Lynn Higgins), and Alain Resnais Interviews with Lynn Higgins, (due out this year). His translations of the first four volumes of Robert Merle’s Fortunes de France appeared at Pushkin Press in London. Kline is also an avid amateur chorister, and has performed in Boston with The Spectrum Singers, Collegium Musicum and Coro Allegro. He sang in the performance of Mendelsohn’s Elijah in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Symphony Hall.

February 15th: Sholeh Wolpé

Love and Murder on the Translation Express: from Attar to Whitman

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer and Playwright. The inaugural 2018 Writer-in-Residence at UCLA, Wolpé is a recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, Wolpé ’s literary work includes five collections of poetry, three plays, four books of translations, and three anthologies. Her most recent publications include The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Co), Cómo escribir una canción de amor (Olifante Ediciones de Poesia, Spain), and Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths (University of Arkansas Press.)  Wolpé ’s writings have been translated into many languages and included in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction. She has lived in the UK and Trinidad. Presently she is based in Los Angeles. More information is available at

February 22nd: Pascale Drouet

From Bonnefoy to Kinnel: Translation and Transmission

Pascale Drouet is Full Professor in Shakespeare studies at the University of Poitiers in France. She has published several books (Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, 2014; De la filouterie dans l’Angleterre de la Renaissance, 2013; Mise au ban et abus de pouvoir, 2012; Le vagabond dans l’Angleterre de Shakespeare, 2003), textually edited King Henry V for Norton Shakespeare, and coedited many collections of essays (the latest being Shakespeare et Cervantès, regards croisés, 2018; The Duchess of Malfi: Webster’s Tragedy of Blood, 2018; Shakespeare au risque de la philosophie, 2017). She has also developed an interest in literary translation, examining Yves Bonnefoy’s French translations of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, and translating herself contemporary drama and poetry in French, plays by British Howard Barker (The Moving and the Still; I Saw Myself; At Her Age and Hers) and Scottish Davig Greig (Dunsinane; Outlying Islands), and collections of poems by American Emily Grosholz (Childhood) and Galway Kinnell (When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone).

March 1: Herbert Golder

“The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen…”: The Metaphora of Cinema

Herbert Golder is Professor of Classical Studies and Editor-in-Chief of Arion, A Journal of Humanities and the Classics at Boston University. He also served as General Editor (with William Arrowsmith) of The Greek Tragedy in New Translations series published by Oxford University Press. His own translations include Sophocles’ Aias (Oxford),  Euripides’Bacchae (Applause), and Nietzsche’s David Strauss, Writer and Confessor (Yale). He has also worked film, features and documentaries, notably alongside legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog on ten films. With Herzog, he co-wrote My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, which was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and earned Golder a nomination for Best Screenplay. His most recent film, Ballad of a Righteous Merchant, which he wrote, produced, and directed, is currently playing in film festivals worldwide and has won numerous international awards.

March 22nd: Robyn Cresswell and Iman Mersal

Migrations of the Tongue: A Conversation about Arabic Poetry and Translation

Robyn Creswell is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University, and former poetry editor of The Paris Review. He is the author of City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut (Princeton, 2018), a study of modernist poetry in Arabic during the 1950s and 1960s. He is the translator of Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images and The Tongue of Adam, both from the French, as well as Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison, from the Arabic. All three translations were published by New Directions. His essays and reviews have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review.He is a former fellow of the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, and of the American Academy in Berlin.

Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet, essayist, translator and literary scholar, and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Alberta. She is the author of five books of Arabic poetry, selections from which have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, German, French, Hebrew and Hindi. In English translation, her poems have appeared in Parnassus, Paris Review, The Nation, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review and Michigan Quarterly Review. A selection of Mersal’s poetry, entitled These Are Not Oranges, My Love, translated by the poet Khaled Mattawa, was published in 2008 (Sheep Meadow Press). Her most recent publications include an Arabic translation of Charles Simic’s memoir, A Fly in the Soup (Al Kotob Khan, 2016, Cairo), and a group of essays, How to mend: on motherhood and its ghosts (Kayfa Ta and Mophradat, 2017).

March 29th: Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer

Hitting the Refresh Button on Vergil’s Aeneid

Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer (PhD University of California, Berkeley) is the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor at The University of Chicago.  She is the author of 5 books on such topics as the ancient novel, Neronian literature, political theatricality, and Stoic philosophy, the most recent of which is Persius: A Study in Food, Philosophy, and the Figural (Winner of the 2016 Goodwin Award of Merit).  She has also edited or co-edited 7 wide-ranging collections (two of them Cambridge Companions) and the “Seneca in Translation” series from the University of Chicago. Bartsch’s new translation of Vergil’s Aeneid is forthcoming from Random House in 2020.  She is also writing a new monograph on the contemporary Chinese reception of ancient Greek political philosophy.  Bartsch has been a Guggenheim fellow, edits the journal KNOW, and has held visiting scholar positions in St. Andrews, Taipei, and Rome.

April 5: Vyvyane Loh

Breaking the Tongue

A doctor, choreographer, and writer, Vyvyane Loh is the medical director of Transform Institute for Metabolic & Lifestyle Medicine in Newton, MA, and serves on the exam writing committee for the American Board of Obesity Medicine, as well as its strategic planning committee. Born in Malaysia of an ethnic Chinese family, she published Breaking the Tongue (Norton, 2005), written in both English and Chinese, about a Chinese family living in Singapore at the beginning of WWII. Breaking the Tongue was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Award, the only first novel on the 2005 shortlist.

Loh was been awarded a Radcliffe (Bunting) Fellow in Fiction and a Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction.

April 12th: Bill Johnston

Epic Foolishness: Translating Epic Poetry in the 21st Century

Bill Johnston has published over thirty book-length translations from the Polish, including poetry, prose, and drama. He has won numerous awards, including the Best Translated Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the AATSEEL Translation Prize (twice), and the Found in Translation Award (twice). He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent translations include Julia Fiedorczuk’s book of poetry Oxygen (Zephyr Press, 2017) and Adam Mickiewicz’s epic poem Pan Tadeusz (Archipelago Books, 2018). He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.

April 19th: Ana Luísa Amaral and Margaret Jull Costa

Sharing a Grammar: A Reading and Conversation with Ana Luísa Amaral and Margaret Jull Costa

Ana Luísa Amaral has written over thirty books, of poetry, theatre, essays, children’s literature and fiction and has translated poets like Emily Dickinson, John Updike, or William Shakespeare. Her books are published in several countries, such as the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico or the United States. A collection of her poems has recently come out in the UK and in USA (The Art of Being a Tiger, transl. Margaret Jull Costa, Oxbow Press, 2016 and Tagus Press, 2018) and another one will come out in USA, with New Directions (What’s in a Name, transl. Margaret Jull Costa). She was awarded several prizes and distinctions, among which the Medal of the City of Paris, the Correntes d’Escritas/Casino da Póvoa Prize, the Prize of the Portuguese Association for Writers, the Prize of Poetry Giuseppe Acerbi, the International Prize Fondazione Roma, or the PEN Prize for Fiction.

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for over thirty years and has translated works by novelists such as Eça de Queiroz, José Saramago and Javier Marías, as well as the poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Ana Luísa Amaral and Fernando Pessoa. She has won various prizes, most recently the 2017 Premio Valle-Inclán for her translation of Rafael Chirbes’ novel On the Edge. In 2013 she was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, in 2014 she was awarded an OBE for services to literature, and in 2015 she was given an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leeds. In 2018, she was awarded a Lifetime Award for Excellence in Translation by the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York.

April 26th: Nick Montfort

Translating Computational Poetry

Nick Montfort is professor of digital media at MIT. He lives in Boston and New York, where he also teaches at the School for Poetic Computation. His work is in creative computing, which he approaches as a theorist, critic, poet, and artist. He initiated the Renderings project to translate digital literary art from other languages into English. Montfort’s computer-generated books of poetry include #!, the multi-lingual collaboration 2×6, Autopia, The Truelist (first in the new Using Electricity series from Counterpath, which he edits), and Hard West Turn. Among his more than fifty digital projects are the collaborations The Deletionist and “Sea and Spar Between.” He shares his poetry in performance and shows digital artwork internationally. His MIT Press books, collaborative and individual, are: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities, and The Future.