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Translation: Theory and Practice in the Modern Language Department

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Chair: Ian Patterson (English, Cambridge)

Catherine Porter (Modern Languages; President, MLA , 2009)
: Translation: Theory and Practice in the Modern Language Department

Decades after translation was abandoned in the United States as the primary tool for foreign language teaching, it is reappearing in its own right as an object of study in growing numbers of universities. Scholarly activity in the field of translation studies has spread from departments of linguistics and comparative literature to departments of world languages and literatures, English, and social science. At a time of fiscal crisis when universities are at once trimming foreign language programs and embracing globalization, a curriculum built around the theory and practice of translation offers students an alternative to the traditional focus on canonical literature that leads, theoretically, toward open, unsettled notions of globalization and interdisciplinarity, and, practically, toward a significantly broadened range of career paths. Recent developments on a variety of campuses include world literature courses in which the fact of translation is highlighted, introductory courses in the art and craft of translation where translation theory and methodology are presented incrementally in relation to practice, and advanced courses on specialized topics in the history, theory, and methodology of translation. As student interest in such courses grows, new questions arise about the training, selection, and status of the professors who teach them; the degree to which translation can be viewed in the academy as a form of scholarship that ‘counts’ for hiring, promotion and tenure is under active debate.

This lecture is free and open to all, no registration required.

This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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