In this course, students will read English translations of novels that have won major prizes. In addition to exploring themes of contemporary literature from around the world, special attention will be paid to the role of translation in shaping the work and its reception, and to the question of what makes for a prize-winning translation. Each week students will read a prize-winning translation alongside reports from the prize committee, reviews of the translation, and what the translators say about their work.
A year-long series of workshops on researching in foreign languages, proposal writing, translation, close reading, the junior essay, and the senior thesis proposal. This junior tutorial is required of all concentrators.
A year-long series of workshops on researching, proposal writing, the senior thesis, and the oral exam. This senior tutorial is required of all concentrators.
What is the relation between literary biography and documentary film? What might the life of a writer tell us about the work? To explore these questions, we will study a range of writers in tandem with documentaries made about their lives. With an emphasis on travel, exile, expatriatism, multilingualism, modernism, and Paris as a literary nexus, we will read work by a selection of twentieth-century authors including James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Isak Dinesen, Ernest Hemingway, Beryl Markham, and Julia Child. Frequently we will pair the viewing of a documentary film with selections from the sources on which it is based. As we challenge the intentional fallacy, we will analyze the cinematic technique with which the film is made and the literary evidence from which it draws. Selections of fictional and nonfictional texts featured in the documentaries will frame our seminar discussions. A centerpiece of the course will be the work of Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen, a Dane who wrote primarily in English, whose memoirs will be read alongside her short fiction and compared to the feature films and documentaries made about her life and her writing. To that end, the seminar will offer students the opportunity to collaborate on and contribute original research to a new documentary film about Blixen’s 1959 transatlantic tour, including her legendary trip to New York and Boston.
A bastardized German, a jargon, a woman’s vernacular, an old world language, a dying and ghostly tongue, a Hasidic language, a queer language, a radical language—these are just a few of the ways that Yiddish has been labeled over its one-thousand-year history. This course will trace the shifting politics attached to Yiddish from its early modern beginnings as a language of translation between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures to its postwar vacillation between a language of mourning and nostalgia, Jewish American humor, Hasidic isolation, and contemporary Jewish radicalism. Through poetry, fiction, essays, and film, we will discuss what it might mean to discover “the secret” language of the Jews” at the origins of Jewish socialism and at the foundations of diaspora nationalism. All texts will be read in translation.
“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” said Bong Joon Ho during his acceptance speech for Parasite’s historical Golden Globe wins. Are we finally ready to embrace subtitles? Are those one-inch-tall subtitles still a cultural barrier? Are they literary artifacts of translation? Despite their widespread use, subtitles are less often studied as a critical site for translation. Using subtitles as a point of departure, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore the intricacies of translation in cinema and other media cultures. It situates translation at the intersection of media and literary theories. In this course, we explore how the media form of subtitles can enable philosophical reflection on issues such as nationalism, nativism, foreignness, aphasia, postcoloniality, labor, and technology. The course will draw on theoretical texts from a diverse range of thinkers, including Frantz Fanon, Frederic Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, John Mowitt, Rey Chow, Naoki Sakai, and Sergei Eisenstein, among others.
This course focuses on professional development and preparation for academic careers in literature and related fields as well as positions outside academe. Part one of a two-part series. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit. Notes: It is open to all Harvard graduate students and is required of first-year Ph.D. students in Comparative Literature.