HUMA 3300 Reading and Writing Texts Sean Cotter Office: JO 5.106 Hannah Swamidoss Office: JO 5.


CB 1.110, Spring 2006, W 7:00 – 9:45, 972-883-2037 Office Hours: Mondays 1:00 – 3:00, and by appointment, 972-883-2773 Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30 – 1:30, and by appointment

The Translator This course will introduce students to interdisciplinary study of the humanities through the example of the translator. Literary translation is more than the practice of transporting a work of literature into a new language. A translator writes and reads in an unusual way, because he exists in more than one culture at a time. This course will use this unusual perspective to examine three humanistic fields: aesthetic, literary, and historical studies. We will do more than study these fields: we will participate in them. We will write mock translations, read as translators do, and study historical translators. We will gain practical and theoretical knowledge of the complicated negotiations of literary translation, negotiations that influence everyone's lives in a multicultural world. We will examine how meanings change with the change of languages, how our home cultures can become suddenly foreign, and how language and culture gain emotional and political importance. We will better understand not only the humanities but also the roles of culture and language in the world around us.


The following is subject to change at my discretion.

Participation Classes begin and end at the same time for all involved. You should arrive before class-time and stay for the entire session. Attendance will be recorded with a roll-sheet. You must sign in to be recorded present. I understand that occasionally circumstances arise (e. g. car trouble, childcare complications, illness) which cause you to miss class. For this reason, you are allowed to miss three meetings over the course of the term. Absences beyond this limit will result in a significant reduction of your final grade, up to three letter grades. It is your responsibility to make your presence and interest in the class known to your instructors. You can demonstrate engagement through participation in classroom discussion, visits to office hours, use of the writing lab, or discussions over email.

Please do not send us email via WebCT. We check that service rarely. Please do send email to the addresses listed at the top of this syllabus.

Assignments You will be responsible for reading all the material on the syllabus, participating in class discussions, and completing all assignments. Assignments A – C together will count for roughly 30% of your final grade. Assignments D and E will each count for roughly 35%. I may adjust this mathematical grade up or down to reflect your participation. Hannah and I will both read your papers. Grading criteria will be distributed with the assignments themselves. As a guide to the kinds of points we will look for in your writing, you should look at Strunk and White’s book, Elements of Style. While that entire book is useful, some important passages are on WebCT. Assignments A, B, and C are short assignments you will need for class on the day they are due. For this reason, they cannot be turned in late. It is possible, though not advisable, to extend the deadlines for assignments D, E, and O, provided there is good reason. To ask for an extension, write me an email before 5 pm the Monday before the assignment is due, giving a reason for the extension and the date you will turn the assignment in. The maximum extension is one week past the original date. Extensions cannot be extended. Your papers will be graded and returned roughly in the order they arrive. Assignment O is an optional revision of any assignment A – E, due April 24. The revision must be accompanied by the original, graded assignment. Save all your work, therefore, until the end of term. The revision grade replaces the original grade; the revision cannot receive a lower grade than the original. Not turning in a revision will not harm your grade. Any assignments not turned in either on time or by the extended deadline are late; late assignments receive zero credit. It is better to turn something in than to turn nothing in.

Paper-Writing Guidelines, in Brief A five-page paper ends on the sixth page. Use one to one and one-quarter inch margins (no more, no less). Print your paper on one side of the page, double-spaced, in a twelve-point font. Use black ink on white paper. Use a font similar to that used for this page; no sans-serif fonts. Do not use a cover sheet, binder, or slipcover. In the upper left corner of the first page, type your name, the course title and section number, the date the paper is turned in, and my name. The paper’s title (a helpful title, not “The Different Translations of Kafka”) follows, centered, on the next line. The title should not be in underlined or bolded. Starting with page two, each page has your last name and the page number in the upper right corner. Do not “justify” your paragraphs. Indent paragraphs one-half inch, block quotes one inch. Block quotes are double-spaced and not centered. Please note that underlining and italics are used for exactly the same purposes. I prefer that you use italics.

Do not use footnotes. Cite all quotations, direct and indirect, using Modern Language Association format. Any paper suspected of plagiarism will be sent to the Dean of Students. The MLA format works through parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence: …as he later writes, “time and again the only meaning of ‘correct’ is ‘traditional’” (Kenner 216). The author’s name and the page number (or line number) of the quote are included just before the final punctuation for in-sentence quotes, just after the punctuation for block quotes. The author’s name refers to a “Works Cited” listing, which you should include as an appendix to your papers. This list includes the author’s name, the book’s title, it’s translator, the city of publication, the publishing house, and the year published: St. Augustine. Confessions. Trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin. London: Penguin, 1961. Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971. If you are comparing two translations, and it would be confusing to refer to them both by the original author, use the translator’s name in the citation… Ciardi’s version of the same passage is deceptively simple, “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray” (Ciardi 28). …and on the Works Cited page: Ciardi, John, trans. The Inferno. By Dante. NY: Mentor, 1982. Your papers will be graded in part by the above guidelines, but primarily we will be looking for a paper that is strongly and simply written. The argument should show serious and creative engagement with the text. The introduction should have a clear thesis and forecast the organization of your paper. The body paragraphs should be focused and build from one to the next. You should explain your position using examples from the text, but only quote as much as you use. Transitions should be smooth. The conclusion should gather together the pieces of the argument to show what the reader has gained by reading the essay. Neither the introduction nor the conclusion should contain general statements about “history,” “time,” “humankind,” “poetry,” or “literature.” Proofread carefully. Trade papers with a classmate; you learn a great deal by proofreading and commenting on another essay. Lastly, your paper will be much improved if you write a complete draft, let it sit two days or so, and then re-write it.


Texts Most of our readings will be posted on WebCT. When considering the cost of this course, remember to include the price of printing out these documents. All books required for this class may be purchased at both the on-campus and off-campus bookstores. Required:

Friel, Brian. Translations. Faber, 1981. Hoffman, Eva. Lost in Translation. Penguin, 1989. Kuper, Peter. The Metamorphosis. NY: Three Rivers Press, 2003 Thuesen, Peter. In Discordance with the Scriptures. Oxford UP, 1999.

Schedule Those writers listed without dates are our contemporaries. Use the focus questions to guide your readings; writing out an answer to each question is a good way to prepare for class. When only one focus question, or group of questions, is listed it applies to all the readings for that session. When there is more than one focus, the questions apply respectively to the individual texts. Watch for boxes that continue on the following page.

January 11

Introductions Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966) Russian poet Focus: Do both translations of the poem tell the same story?

January 18

Rainer Maria Rilke, all poems (1875 – 1926) Prague born, German language poet Charles Baudelaire, all poems (1821 – 1867) French poet

DUE: Assignment A

Focus: How do the differences in each translation’s rhythm and rhyme affect the poem’s meanings?

January 25

Workshop Willa and Edwin Muir, trans. “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka Edwin Muir (1887 – 1959) Scottish poet and translator, husband of Willa Willa Muir (dates unknown) Scottish translator, wife of Edwin

DUE: Assignment B

Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924) Prague born, German-language prose writer Focus: How do different interpretations lead a translator to different word choices? Focus: How does Gregor’s transformation help and hinder family communication?

February 1

A. L. Lloyd, trans. “The Metamorphosis,” (dates unknown) American translator Peter Kuper adapter, “The Metamorphosis” American graphic artist Focus: How do the differences in translation affect our picture of Gregor? Focus: How does the way Kuper arranges each page affect the ways we read the story?

February 8

Deleuze and Guattari, “What Is a Minor Literature?” Gilles Deleuze (1925 – 1995) French philosopher and literary critic Félix Guattari (1930 – 1992) French psychotherapist David Damrosch, “Kafka Comes Home” American literary critic Focus: What three qualities define a minor literature? How do these qualities affect the way Kafka writes? How do these critics connect politics and literature? Focus: How and why have different critics interpreted Kafka in different ways?

February 15

Workshop, individual readings Euripides, Medea (480 – 406 B. C. E.) Greek playwright

DUE: Assignment C

Focus: What kind of Kafka does each critic see? Focus: What role does Medea’s foreign birth have in the play?

February 22

Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Medea”; shown in class (1922 – 1975) Italian writer and filmmaker Focus: Does the background Pasolini gives make Medea seem more or less foreign? How does Pasolini connect Jason to Greek culture?

March 1

Discuss “Medea,” no reading

DUE: Assignment D

Focus: How is adaptation like translation?

March 8 Spring Break Holiday

March 15

Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone” Canadian literary critic Gloria Anzaldúa, “Chicana Artists,” “How to Tame the Wild Tongue” Texas feminist Robert Rodriguez, “Aria” American writer and teacher Focus: How does each writer understand the effect power has on cultural contact? How does each writer connect language to cultural identity?

March 22

Damrosch, “The Pope’s Blowgun” Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation, p. 3 – 95 Polish born, English-language prose writer Focus: In what ways, according to Damrosch, can a less powerful culture influence a more powerful culture? Focus: How does Polish culture affect Hoffman’s self-image?

March 29

Hoffman, p. 99 – 280 Paul Valéry, “Historical Fact” (1871 – 1945) French poet, critic, diplomat Focus: How does Hoffman characterize American culture? Focus: Why does Valéry believe we should study history?

April 5

Lydia Liu, “Legislating the Universal” Chinese born, American literary critic Peter Thuesen, In Discordance with the Scriptures, p. 3 – 40 American historian Focus: According to Liu, how can historical events affect translation? Focus: Why, according to Thuesen, is translation a particularly important problem for Protestant theologies?

April 12

Thuesen, p. 41 – 155

DUE: Assignment E

Focus: What makes a particular Bible translation “authoritative”? How does Thuesen connect “history” and “truth”?

April 19

Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland, p. xi – 39, 91 – 111 Irish historian Brian Friel, Translations Irish playwright

DUE WEDNESDAY APRIL 26: Assignment O (optional revision)

Focus: How has the practice of translation shaped Ireland’s history? Focus: How is a historian’s presentation of history different from a playwright’s?

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