Past Workshops
Translation and Transformation

Translation and Transformation: Transfer Processes across Languages, Media, and Culture

Coordinators: Jack Davis (German), Sabine Gross (German), Ana Lincoln (English), Ernesto Livorni (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), Lynn Nyhart (History of Science).


Translation – Transposition – Transfer – Transformation: these terms overlap without being synonymous, and the relationships among them provide a substratum for the individual meetings of this workshop. They designate processes among languages, discourses, forms of knowledge, cultures, and media that collectively help shape and define such broad concepts as transnationality and globalism, but also artistic and sensory forms of intermediality. Not least, they can crucially determine the “fine grain” of textual form.

Workshop sessions will have a different balance of general/theoretical and specific/hands-on components depending on the individual topic, texts, or guests,and emphases will include linguistic, medial, semiotic, and sensory-perceptual forms of transfer. The outer horizon included in our discussions will be intranslatability and the limits of transferability.

The Workshop will be a forum for faculty and graduate students across the humanities with an interest in translation, broadly defined, both in the area of language/literature/culture and extending to the visual and performing arts and media. In general, meetings will include theoretical and methodological reflection, but also have a strong focus on concrete analysis and “nuts and bolts” discussion of a variety of specific texts (broadly defined as written/visual/multi-sensory/medial artifacts) and examples.

Selected topics that will/may be included in this year’s program:

  • The conceptual and historical dimension of “translation”
  • Transformations among words, sounds, movement, verbal-kinesthetic transfer processes
  • Scientific language, universal language, artificial language
  • Analysis of specific texts and translation projects, roundtable discussion with translators
  • The ethics of translation
  • The body as site of transformational processes

Please see announcements of monthly events for details and readings.


Note: Some readings are password protected. Email an organizer for the password. You may need the newest version of Adobe Reader to view them (download the newest version here). Note that some browsers will allow you to open the pdf in a new window, others will require you to download the file.



Markus Weidler

Literary Strategy in Benjamin’s Essay “The Task of the Translator”

Friday, April 11, 2014 @ 3:30pm
University Club rrom 228/231 (IRH Library)

Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator” has become something of a constant bone of contention. To some extent, the undying Reiz (in the dual sense of charm and irritation) generated by this text has to do with Benjamin’s going against common sense in many of his pronouncements, including the central claim concerning the impossibility of translation. Coupled with the fact that the essay at hand was originally composed as the preface for his own translation of Baudelaire’s “Tableaux parisiens,” one easily gains the impression that Benjamin can’t be serious; that his writing is somehow tongue-in-cheek. This situation has prompted generations of readers to keep digging for the hidden meaning or message of Benjamin’s text.

Following the lead of Paul de Man’s last Messenger Lecture at Cornell University (March 4, 1983) I will give it another go and offer an alternate “archaeological” reading, in which I aim to discern the subtext of Benjamin’s essay. This subtext, I argue, is distinctly political. Sensitive to the conservative-revolutionary atmosphere in intra-war Germany, Benjamin struggles to depoliticize the politics of poetry, which took shape most prominently in the “spirit books” (Geisterbücher) project of the George Kreis. Here I accept Wendy Brown’s claim that gestures at depoliticizing must not be conflated with an apolitical stance. Viewed against the backdrop of this cultural climate, some of the literary techniques deployed in Benjamin’s essay take on a new spin, which I propose to examine in terms of literary strategy–a notion imported from the last chapter of Terry Eagleton’s recent publication The Event of Literature.

Finally, to put the political stakes of the “Translator” essay in perspective, it is expedient to observe some important contrasts between Benjamin’s intra-war text and the ominous pair of Heidegger’s famous zero-hour texts: “What Are Poets For?” and the “Letter on Humanism.” Both authors’ writing will emerge as equally strategic from this comparison. However, while Benjamin’s account of translation can be read to celebrate in “good European” fashion the influence among different languages as a reciprocal process of happy bastardization, Heidegger’s literary tactics are geared toward lingual insulation, so as to defend the heritage of the German language against the impending corruption by the allied powers. In hindsight, then, one can read Benjamin’s “Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers” as a strategic answer to Heidegger’s “Wozu Dichter?” This comparative reading has the merit of expanding and deepening the more familiar details about Benjamin’s reservations toward George’s “secret Germany,” for what we are witnessing with Benjamin and Heidegger are two clashing visions of the spirit of language or Sprachgeist.

Markus Weidler, a native of Berlin, Germany, received his M.A. and his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. After teaching at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, for two years, he joined the faculty of Columbus State University in 2007. He has published and continues to work in the areas of twentieth-century continental thought and contemporary philosophy of religion, an as an occasional translator of, among others, Martin Buber.


  • Excerpt from Paul de Man, “Conclusions” on Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator” (1983 Messenger Lecture, Cornell University)


Dennis Costa, Boston University

Translation & ‘Stylistic’ in Petrarch’s Secretum

Friday, April 25, 2014 @ 3:30-5:30pm
University Club room 313

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) is arguably the greatest lyric poet between the Greco-Roman world and Shakespeare. But his works in prose have been under-appreciated. His Secret, a prose dialogue concerning morality (composed from 1353-1358), opens with the claim that what it is going to say may be so idiosyncratic as to remain absolutely untranslatable. The Secret encodes a struggle between the very different rhetorical styles of its two interlocutors: an autobiographical character named ‘Franciscus’ and a character named ‘Augustinus,’ an emulation of the 5th-century theologian St. Augustine of Hippo. Petrarch invites his readers, in the course of this dialogue, to try to achieve the same familiarity with his language as Petrarch already clearly had with the language of St. Augustine.  What becomes ‘translatable’, then,  for us, could be called a ‘stylistic’, or two ‘stylistics’—as Marielle Macé has recently employed the term—these characters’ two different “ways of reading” and/as two different “ways of life”. Petrarch’s reading of Augustine and of other writers of the Roman past allowed him, he believed, both to speak their languages and to revise the ideological contents of those languages for his own purposes. Both these processes are kinds of translation. Petrarch inherits a tradition according to which good translation (as opposed to a ‘rendering,’ piecemeal) is always, already an hermeneutic. What it occasions is not just this or that specific meaning but also an experience of meaningfulness that is not exhausted by the lexical and contextual meanings of words. And that seems to be the function in the Secretum of a third (other, female) character, named Truth/Veritas.  

We shall look at questions of translation and stylistic in excerpts from the Secretum in the original Latin, along with versions of these in English and Italian. We’ll look as well at two of Petrarch’s Italian lyrics with English translations.

Texts for the session:




Emine Sevgi Özdamar

Bi-lingual reading (German-English)

Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 5:30pm
8417 Sewell Social Science Building

Co-sponsored by the Center for German, European Studies & the Department of German, World Literature/s Research Workshop

Emine Sevgi Özdamar is one of the most well known German authors today. She was born in Malatya, Turkey and moved to Germany as a guest worker in the 1960s. She studied theater with Benno Besson and worked at the Volksbühne in East Berlin in the 1970s. She is the author of many literary works in German, including the collection of stories called Mutterzunge (Mothertongue, 1990), and Der Hof im Spiegel (2001; The Courtyard in the Mirror, 2006); and the novels of the “Istanbul-Berlin Trilogy”: Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei hat zwei Türen aus einer kam ich rein aus der anderen ging ich raus (1992; Life is a Carawanserai Has Two Doors I Went in One I Came out the Other, 2000); Die Brücke vom goldenen Horn (1998; The Bridge of the Golden Horn, 2009); and Seltsame Sterne Starren zur Erde (2003; “Strange Stars Stare at the Earth”). In addition, she has written and directed plays and acted in films and theater. Her works have been translated into several languages. She is the recipient of major German literary awards including the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize (1991), the Adalbert von Chamisso Prize (1999), Heinrich von Kleist Prize (2004) and the Theodor Fontane Prize (2009).


Ana Lincoln, English

"Code-switching and Translation"

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 @ 3:30-5:30pm
University Club room 313
A Mellon T3 Workshop

Ana Lincoln is a dissertator in the English Department working on Francophone/Anglophone Code-Switching in 20th Century World Literature. Link to Cummings’ intriguing and entertaining text below.

Linguistics broadly defines code-switching as the ability on the part of bilinguals to alternate effortlessly between their two languages, which according to some definitions may take the form of syntactic merging, borrowing, and/or language mixing. In our seminar, I would like to investigate the intersection between code-switching and translation using the first chapter of E. E. Cummings’s The Enormous Room as a case study, although participants are very welcome to bring in other examples of code-switching (literary, conversational, or cultural). On the one hand, code-switching might be seen as a refusal to translate since words, phrases, or sentences are presented in a language other than the primary language of the text. However, code-switching and translation can have similar effects on an audience if we think of translation as the “bearing across” from one language, culture, genre, space, or time to another and not as only the literal translation of words or meanings into another language. In our seminar, I would like to consider the intersections and contradictions of code-switching and translation. Why and when do we code-switch? Do we gain or lose anything by code-switching instead of using only one language? How might these practices and theories about these practices inform each other?

I also invite participants to view the first post from the NPR blog, Code Switch, which provides a different definition of code-switching as dialogue that spans cultures (switching registers of language) with a particular focus on intersections with race and ethnicity.



Marcus Bullock, Comparative Literature

"Walter Benjamin and the Integrity of Translation"

Friday, February 14, 2014 @ 3:30
University Club room 313
A Mellon T3 Workshop

Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator” has been frequently invoked in our meetings; this session will finally provide an opportunity to discuss it. Marcus Bullock will introduce the text in the context of arguing for the integrity of translation; he has provided the outline below.

Participants may be interested in additionally reading Benjamin’s “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man” (also in vol I. of Benjamin’s Selected Writings (1913-1926), ed. M. Bullock and M. Jennings, Belknap/Harvard UP, 1996. Bring Kafka’s Der Process (in translation and/or German), if so inclined.

Marcus Bullock is Professor emeritus of Comparative and English Literature at the UW-Milwaukee and honorary research fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies at the UW-Madison. He served as co-editor for the Harvard edition of Walter Benjamin’s Selected Writings in English. In addition to publications on authors such as Benjamin, Kafka, Schlegel, Kristeva, and Heidegger, he has authored numerous translations.

Walter Benjamin’s essay on the “Task of the Translator” is valued correctly as a brilliant example of his thinking about language, but wrongly understood as a description of what a translator can or should undertake as his or her “task.”  It does, however, help us situate a number of essential problems in translation, and may help us elevate the process by which we critique translations to a more sophisticated level. 

In line with his unyielding suspicion of the autonomous work of art in any genre and any medium throughout his oeuvre, Benjamin subjects the idea of “integrity” in a text to be translated to the same “divine violence” he reserves for the work of art in general.  What he sets out as the responsibility of the critic in his essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities (1924/25) – to shatter the work into a thing of shards and render it the mere torso of a symbol – also underlies what he requires of the translator.  The responsibility of the translator is not to the work, and not to produce a version that can be read and understood by the speaker of another language.  It is first of all to use the text as a vessel containing its measure of one language in order to mediate the relation of that language as a whole to another language as a whole.  But I would argue that the integrity of a translator requires just the opposite.  He or she should not only respect the text as an autonomous whole, but avoid being drawn into the purpose of addressing relations between two languages at the expense of that integrity of the text in its independent claim to its own meaning.

The notion of treating the text as a mere slice of language rather than as a singular body with an integral form appears in analogous processes in both translation from language to language, and in translating a passage meant to be read in its integrity into the text of a musical performance.  The manner in which the linguistic material is fragmented and rearranged in repetitions and returns as the vocal element of the composition reflects the way it is detached from its initial function and rearranged as the vehicle of a new dynamism of ideas.  The artistry of phrasing in a composition and in the performance by a singer will always reflect the repositioning of the line taken out of its context, and often fragmented beyond even the integrity of the line itself according to a meaning that has been repatriated into the full ocean of language where it can be salted anew in the bays and tides of ideology.  This in fact gives us the formula whereby we can understand the theological impulse concealed or latent in the closing line of Benjamin’s first paragraph, where he claims that no literary text is intended for the reader any more than any musical composition is intended for a listener, or a painted one for an observer.

Violations of that integrity can frequently be found in the politics of publication in translation. They are sometimes the function of the cultural tradition that influences the translators’ reading of a work, which we can see subtly at work in the Muirs’ English version of Kafka. It is not only English in its language, but in the sensibility by which they interpret the relationship of K in Der Process as an individual to an oppressive yet hallowed authority (see opening sentences below). Finally, our discussion will include (with examples) the intriguing effect of aging in translations, and the process of bringing English translations up to date.

Opening of Kafka’s Der Process – German original and translation by Willa and Edwin Muir.
“Jemand mußte Josef K. verleumdet haben, denn ohne daß er etwas Böses getan hätte, wurde er eines Morgens verhaftet.“
„Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.”



Michael Gordin, History of Science, Princeton

"Engineering the Language of the Future, circa 1905"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 3:30-5:30 pm
University Club room 313
A Mellon T3 Workshop

In the first decade of the twentieth century, it was obvious that scholars globally were publishing in far too many languages for anyone's good. The solution to this, as seemed obvious to many who noticed the problem, was not to adopt one or several vehicular languages (our solution today), but rather to construct a new tongue, designed for ease of acquisition and clarity of expression. We'll discuss some of the arguments as well as some contemporary examples, based on two texts: a 1910 article by Leopold Pfaundler for discussion, and a two-page sampler of curated texts in 5 constructed languages that Michael Gordin put together for us. Our discussion may also include reference to Esperanto translations of Lewis Carroll’s famous 1872 nonsense poem “Jabberwocky.”



Michael D. Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Princeton University

"Speaking Utopian: Science in an Artificial Language"

Friday, January 31, 2014 @ 3:30 pm
Memorial Library Special Collections conference room (9th floor Memorial Library – take separate elevator or walk up from 8th floor)
A Mellon T3 Workshop event in conjunction with the History of Science Colloquium

By the turn of the 20th century, scientific  knowledge was being produced in so many different national languages that individual scientists claimed that they could no longer follow important developments. Some, including some very prominent scientists, thought the best way out of this linguistic logjam might be to adapt one of the so-called "artificial languages," such as Esperanto (or its renegade offshoot Ido), for the purposes of scientific communication. This talk chronicles these developments from 1890 to 1914 and situates them in the context of the politics and dynamics of the multiple languages in which science has been done in the modern period.

Information about Gordin


Ernesto Livorni, Italian

Exploring T.S. Eliot via Eugenio Montale

November 22, 2013 @ 3:30-5:30pm
University Club room 313

The November 22 session--our final session for this semester--will feature Ernesto Livorni, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, for a discussion of translations of three poems by T.S. Eliot by noted Italian poet Eugenio Montale (Genoa, 1896 - Milan, 1981), who also enjoyed the act of translation (he published his translations in a volume titled Quaderno di traduzioni, "Notebook of Translations"). Two of the Eliot poems are from the "Ariel Poems", written in the years after Eliot's conversion to Anglo-Catholicism. With Ernesto's guidance, we will discuss in which ways the translation, on the one hand, captures important elements of the English text, and where, on the other hand, it diverges from Eliot's intention. In so doing, Montale ends up revealing the difference between him and Eliot, but also the coherence between the poet and the translator in his own work on the text. On the surface, Montale's translation respects the ideology of Eliot's poems; a close reading of the translations shows what might be called the ideological intention of the translator rather than the poet author.



Thomas Armbrecht, French & Italian

"We are all transsexuals, symbolically"

Friday, November 8, 2013 @ 5:00pm
313 University Club

Our November 8 meeting starts later than usual to give “T3” participants the opportunity to attend a lecture closely related to our topic at 3:30pm: Professor Patrice Rankine, Hope College, MI, will speak on the transformation of the Odyssey myth by African American writers and artists on the occasion of the Black Odyssey exhibit currently at the Chazen museum. Room (to be confirmed – please check back a couple of days before the lecture): Elvehjem/Chazen L 150.



Esther Dischereit (Berlin/Vienna) and translator Iain Galbraith (Wiesbaden)

Translation Roundtable

Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:30pm
313 University Club

Our first regular workshop session will feature. German-Jewish author and performer Esther Dischereit, Professor of Language Arts at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna. Professor Dischereit is the Fall 2013 Distinguished Max Kade Writer in Residence at the UW-Madison. She has received much media attention in Germany recently for her Klagelieder / mourning songs commemorating a series of racist murders in Germany. As a German-Jewish writer, Dischereit reflects on the experience of being a “non-majority” German. The session will allow us to engage Dischereit and her translator in discussion and feature a selection from Dischereit’s texts in English, including Iain Galbraith’s just-completed translation of Dischereits “Mourning Songs,” commissioned for her stay in Madison.

For more events with Esther Dischereit, please see



Transforming Words: Performance of Esther Dischereit's Klagelieder/Mourning Songs

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 @ 6:00pm
DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (University Ave. at Orchard St.)

A word-movement-sound performance by author Esther Dischereit (Berlin/Vienna); dancer Holly Handman-Lopez (Oberlin); Todd Hammes and Chana Dischereit (percussion); and UW-Madison dance participants.

This is the first US performance of Dischereit’s acclaimed Klagelieder/Mourning Songs, featuring a translation specially commissioned for this performance. Dischereit’s text will be “transformed” in real time from discourse into movement and sound in a semi-improvisational group performance. Handman-Lopez is partnering with Dischereit, additional dancers, and musicians in an evening of theatrical dance, poetry and music that examines collective cultural memory, loss, violence and tenderness.

Followed by a reception.

German-Jewish author and performer Esther Dischereit, Professor of Language Arts at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna, is the Fall 2013 Distinguished Max Kade Writer in Residence at the UW-Madison.

This event is sponsored by the “Translation/Transformation/Transfer” Mellon workshop of the Center for the Humanities. It is co-sponsored by the Department of German, the Arts Institute, the Center for Visual Cultures, the Division of International Studies, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for German and European Studies, the Max Kade Foundation, and the Dance Department.

Free and open to the public

For more events with Esther Dischereit, please see:


Hannah Eldridge: Intermedial Translations of Silence

Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 3:00-5:00pm
212 University Club

I would like to use three settings of Friedrich Hölderlin's "Hälfte des Lebens" (variously translated as "Half of Life" and "The Middle of Life") to address the question of translations or transformations between the expressive media of poetry and music, centered around the very particular issue of how each composer translates the silence or "gap" between the poem's two strophes. Hölderlin's most extensive poetological text, a long draft fragment written in 1800/1801, provides several possible terms for conceptualizing this transformation: the idea of a (literal) hyperbole or self-transgression as a necessary element of the poetic process, the related concept of a "Metapher" or "Übertragung" as the center of a poem, and, finally, the idea of reflected or mediated oppositions (along a number of poles) as structuring poetic composition. 

The files (of brief recordings and texts) are: György Ligeti's setting of the poem for 16 voice a capella choir, Benjamin Britten's setting for alto and piano, and Stefan Wolpe's setting for alto and piano; several translations of the poem (with German facing pages); finally, both German and English versions of an excerpt from the poetological texts, "Wenn der Dichter einmal des Geistes mächtig ist..."/ "When the poet is once in command of the spirit..." (translated--not unproblematically-by Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth). Copies of the scores will also be available at the meeting.

Note: Readings are password protected. Email organizer for the password.


Yoko Tawada / 多和田葉子 [Tawada Yōko]

Yoko Tawada’s poetic and essayistic texts and her reflections on language (often, the two go together) display a wonderful awareness of the intricacies of language as it crosses cultural boundaries. Her texts combine creativity and analytic insight, humor and estrangement, often featuring a plurality of voices and opening our eyes to new dimensions of language.

Tawada’s texts span two languages and have been translated into English and many other languages. They feature a broad spectrum of textual forms and genres – from short stories and essays to poems, novels, and plays. Tawada (*1960) has received a number of prestigious awards in Japan and in Germany.

A Lecture-Performance by Yoko Tawada:  Speaking in Tongues

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 @ 5:00pm
Vandeberg Auditorium in the Pyle Center
Followed by a reception

Sponsored by the Mellon Workshops “Translation – Transformation – Transfer” and “World Literature/s”, the Departments of German, of East Asian Languages and Literatures, English, and Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, the Language Institute, and the Center for German and European Studies.

Mellon Workshop “Translation – Transformation – Transfer” session with Yoko Tawada: The Translator’s Gate

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 @ 4:00-6:00pm
Pyle Center (check board for room)

Members of the Mellon “World Literature/s” Workshop will join us for this session. Our discussion with Yoko Tawada will be based on her essay "The Translator's Gate, or Celan Reads Japanese" (in English).     [Click here for a pdf of the article in the German original ].

Note: Readings are password protected. Email organizer for the password.


Fearful Asymmetries: On Cultural Translation

Moderator:  Tomislav Longinovic, Slavic, UW-Madison 

February 15, 2013 @ 3:00-5:00pm
313 University Club

Click here for the required reading.


Rolf Goebel

Script, Image, Sound: Intermedial Transfers from Friedrich Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin to Digital Culture Today

Friday, January 25, 2013 @ 3:00-5:00pm
313 University Club

Click here for the readings provided by Rolf Goebel, University of Alabama in Huntsville, selections from "Script, Image, Sound: Intermedial Transfers from Friedrich Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin to Digital Culture Today."

Learn more about our guest speaker here:  Rolf Goebel.


Untranslatables/”bad” translations/productive misunderstandings


Friday, December 14, 2012 @ 3:00-5:00pm
313 University Club


  • 3 poems by Christian Morgenstern with 2 translations into English each (for comparison – no need to know German)
  • Two interesting details of biblical translation (thanks to Ron Troxel)
  • Productive mistranslation, 2 cases: one from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, where two characters engage in wordplay over the genitive of "Ninus" in Latin and in English. The other is Haruki Murakami's treatment of a Japanese translation of the Beatles' song, "Norwegian Wood." (thanks to Ron Harris)
  • "Jabberwocky" (1) in Martin Gardner’s famous annotated edition of from Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. The annotations include a French and a German version.
  • “Jabberwocky” (2): Douglad Hofstadter’s synoptic view of English, French, and German version (for anyone who wants just the texts, with less information than the Gardner version)
  • “Jabberwocky” translations  taken from   (there are other websites). I selected Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, as well as additional ones in French and German. We’ll want to discuss different translations into the same language, as well as compare among languages. Feel free to check out other languages and report back (in addition to many others, there’s Welsh, Yiddisch, Afrikaans, and Latin)!

Note: Readings are password protected. Email organizer for the password.


Inaugural Meeting of the Translation and Transformation: Transfer Processes across Languages, Media and Cultures ("T3") Workshop

Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 3:00-5:00pm
212 University Club

Our first session provided a chance for each participant to introduce her/himself with a sketch of background and interest in the workshop, to provide a sense of the interests represented and how they may converge. The group discussed a brief text by Walter Benjamin on translation, in both English translation and the German original, is posted below for your reading pleasure and reflection.  Please click here to read the Introductory Remarks from moderator Sabine Gross on the vision and goals for the Workshop.
Required reading: "Translation - For and Against" by Walter Benjamin


Chantal Wright, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Translating exophonic literature: What it means for the translator when a writer steps outside the mother tongue

Friday, November 9, 2012 @ 3:00-5:00pm
212 University Club

When a writer adopts a new language—a phenomenon ever more frequently referred to using the emerging term ‘exophony’—this often leads him or her to mould the new language until it becomes suitable for his or her purposes, in a manner analogous to the strategies of appropriation observed in post-colonial literatures (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1989). This process often results in a defamiliarisation of the new language through stylistic innovation which, in turn, has implications for the translation of these texts. This hands-on workshop will examine extracts from texts by Tzveta Sofronieva (Bulgaria/Germany), Franco Biondi (Italy/Germany) and Japanese-German writer Yoko Tawada (Japan/Germany), and consider stylistic features such as morphological play, neologism and metalinguistic reflection. Knowledge of German is not required: texts will be provided with a gloss and/or in English translation.

Chantal Wright is Assistant Professor of Translation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She grew up in Manchester, England and studied at Girton College, Cambridge, and the University of East Anglia. Her translation of Tzveta Sofronieva’s collection of poetry Eine Hand voll Wasser (A Hand Full of Water, White Pine Press, 2012) was funded by a grant from PEN American Center and won the inaugural Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation in 2012. Her translation of Yoko Tawada’s prose text Portrait of a Tongue is forthcoming with University of Ottawa Press. In 2011, Chantal Wright was shortlisted for the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation in the UK (The Pasta Detectives, Chicken House, 2010).

Required reading:
Please click here to access a document that contains excerpts from the following primary texts:

  • Biondi, Franco, 1997. In deutschen Küchen. Frankfurt am Main: Brandes & Apsel. (extracts)
  • Tawada, Yoko, 2002. Überseezungen. Tübingen: Konkursbuch Verlag Claudia Gehrke. (‘Porträt einer Zunge’)
  • Sofronieva, Tzveta, 2012. A Hand Full of Water. Translated from Geman by Chantal Wright. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press. (‘Einbürgerung am Valentinstag’)