Undergraduate Classes

Undergraduates interested in literary translation have a wide range of courses to choose from. Besides several language-specific translation courses on the nuts and bolts of translation techniques, there are many literature courses engaging with translation. Among them are XL 441 1001 Nights in the World Literary ImaginationLZ381 Rumi and Sufi Poetry, LS 576 The Culture of Exile in Latin America or EN 493 Experimental Translational Practices and Translingual Traces in Art, Writing, and Performance.

Motivated juniors and seniors are also encouraged to enroll in any of the 500-level courses in literary translation such as TL 500 History and Theory of Translation, TL 505 Literary Style Workshop, TL 540 Translation Seminar, TL 541 Translation Today, and TL 551 Topics in Translation. These courses all count for the breadth requirement in WLL majors.

During the spring semester, language students from beginners on are welcome to come hear and meet the guest speakers at the Friday 1pm literary translation lectures.

Undergraduates are also encouraged to compete for the Fitzgerald, Traum, and Chinese Translation prizes.

Translation-focused courses open to undergraduates include:

CAS LG 310 [German] Translation Workshop. Advanced German language training. Pleasures and frustrations of different languages’ and cultures’ incommensurability are investigated through systematic practice in translating between German and English. Translation as technical skill, creative performance. Variety of subject areas and genres: literature, media, politics, humor.

CAS LJ 386 Japanese Translation/Interpretation WorkshopCourse enhances students’ knowledge of Japanese by developing practical skills of translating and interpreting. Students practice translating many types of texts, using various dictionaries and internet sources, and interpreting in different situations.

CAS LY 572 Arabic Translation and Interpreting. Training in strategies of written translation between Arabic and English, and introduction to the challenges of oral interpreting. Exercises drawn from various contemporary materials including print and broadcast media as well as literary texts.

CAS LC 486 Workshop on Translating and Interpreting Chinese. Enhances students’ knowledge of Chinese by developing practical skills in translating and interpreting. Students practice translating a variety of text types, using various dictionaries and internet sources, and interpreting in different situations.

CAS LS 306 [Spanish] Translation. Not open to students for whom Spanish is a first language. Advanced study of the Spanish language through the translation of written texts. Analysis of the theory and practice of translation as a catalyst of cultural transfer. Taught in Spanish.

CAS LK 470 Korean in Translation and Interpretation Workshop. Enhances students’ Korean skills through practice in document and audiovisual translation and interpretation. Both written and audiovisual texts in various styles and topics are introduced.

CAS LZ 311 Advanced Persian 1. Concentrates on all four communicative skills, diverse registers, and idioms. Students work with classical and modern literary texts, as well as media connected with Persian culture. This course includes a significant translation component.

CAS CL 502 Reading Course in Lucretius. This course is designed to increase your speed and accuracy in reading Lucretius’ De rerum natura. We shall read approximately 3,000 verses of the poem with special attention to grammar, style, and the art of translation. In a further study of style and translation, we shall frequently look at passages from Vergil which imitate and adapt passages from Lucretius. As an exercise to think of translation, style, and reception, writing assignments shall include close comparison of your own translation 1) to one from the late seventeenth century (by Hutchinson, Creech, or Dryden), 2) to a modern translation, and 3) to Lucretius’ Latin.

TL 500 Theory and History of Translation. Introduction to the history of translation and the main trends in the field of Translation Studies. Students will learn about the history of translation, from Cicero and St. Jerome to Google Translate, and will become familiar with the main theories and approaches to translation from Schleiermacher on. Theoretical readings will be accompanied by articles by working translators, including concrete examples. Class discussions will help students develop an analytical and critical framework for approaching translation and understand the debates that inform the field today.

TL 505 Literary Style Workshop. Sharpens students’ sense of American English collocations, usage, and typical patterns of cohesion and coherence, and familiarizes students with reference and training resources in this area. You will explore the centrality of text type or genre in translation and study examples of distinctive style, both in English-language writers as well as in stylistically diverse translations into English of a single source text. Students acquire analytic frameworks and vocabulary for describing stylistic choices and effects, and for justifying their choices as translators.

TL 540 Translation Seminar. In this course, students practice translating and work on individual translation projects. The class meets twice a week, once for a translation workshop and again for a lecture by an invited speaker, followed by a discussion. During the first half of the semester, the workshop focuses on analyzing existing translations of poems or short passages from different languages; students may not know all relevant languages, but are provided with the information needed to attempt their own translations. Students are guided to be fully aware of the strategies they employ and the choices they make in diction and style. Translations are later peer-reviewed and discussed in class. During the second half of the semester, students work on individual translation projects, which are mentored by a faculty expert. Projects are presented in class, including progress reports and problems encountered during translation.

TL 541 Translation Today Students attend weekly lectures by invited speakers, followed by a discussion. The second class meeting focuses on concrete issues arising from the material presented in the Friday lecture. Readings and handouts are provided by the invited speaker or assigned by the instructor. When possible, material is made available before the Friday lecture to allow students to prepare questions and topics for discussion with the speaker following each lecture. Since invited speakers work in a variety of languages and genres (poetry, drama, essay, fiction, and beyond), students will be able to engage directly with a variety of material and approaches.

TL 551 Topics in Translation Studies: Topics will vary. Professor J. Keith Vincent will teach the first iteration, “Lives of Translators,” in Spring 2021. Asking why it matters who translates, students will read biographies and memoirs of literary translators to understand how aspects of the translators’ identities shaped their work and its reception, and what we can learn as translators from the life stories, work habits, translation strategies, and career paths of great translators.  Translators include Constance Garnett, C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Helen Lowe-Porter, Gregory Rabassa, Michael Henry Heim, Arthur Waley, Edward Seidensticker, Barbara Wright, and Kate Briggs. The course will also explore “transfiction”: fictional representations of translators in literary works such as Samuel Delaney’s Babel 17, Rabbih Allameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman, and others.


For more information contact Anna Elliott (aelliott@bu.edu)