Deadline: 16th Annual Classical Translation Contest (April 4th)

There’s still time to submit your translation to the 16th Annual Classical Translation Contest!

Students in all departments and programs (graduate and undergraduate) across the University of Michigan are invited to submit literary translations of texts from Latin, Ancient Greek, and Modern Greek. We know that there are many people inspired by the beauty of these languages who wish to render them more freely and creatively than classwork often involves. This contest is intended to highlight the work of students who are interested in the process of translation as a creative, intellectually meaningful enterprise.

Rules and Prizes

  1. Please submit your work anonymously in the following format: FOUR hard copies of your English translation (along with the original text) and ONE separate cover page (listing the title and author of the text you translated, your name and email address, and your undergraduate major or graduate program).
  2. Submissions are due on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by 5:00pm to the Comparative Literature Main Office, 2021 Tisch Hall (2nd floor).
  3. All submissions will be judged anonymously by a panel of faculty members from Classics, Comparative Literature, English, and related departments.
  4. Students affiliated with any UM department are eligible.
  5. All work should consist of original translations/interpretations of works from Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, or


  6. Original works may be in prose or verse and translations may be in prose, verse, or other format, such as multi-


  7. Maximum length of written submissions is five double-spaced pages.
  8. In each category (undergraduate and graduate), the prizes will be $100 each.
  9. Winners will be invited to present their translations at the annual Classics Department awards ceremony on April 18, 2017.

Sponsored by CONTEXTS FOR CLASSICS at the University of Michigan

Newest Issue of Absinthe Published!

The Department of Comparative Literature is pleased to announce that the newest issue of the journal  Absinthe: World Literature in Translation is now available.

Titled “Pen and Brush,” the special issue brings together poetry, prose, and artwork that address cultural exchange between Asia and Europe.  This issue was guest-edited by Emily Goedde (UM ’16 Comparative Literature PhD) with generous support from the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan.

Authors and translators include David Jimenéz (trans. Andrea Rosenberg), Wei Yun Lin Górecka (trans. Darryl Sterk), Ryoko Sekiguchi (trans. Shannon K. Winston), and Yang Lian (Brian Holton).

The Department celebrated the release of “Pen and Brush” with a reading and reception on January 20th, 2017.



Showcase: Past Winners of the Senior Prize in Literary Translation

Each year, the Department of Comparative Literature puts out its annual call for the Senior Prize in Literary Translation. Since 2011, fourteen seniors from departments across the University have received the honor (and prize money) for their stirring translations. Before we send out this year’s call for submissions, the Department would like to highlight several of those notable texts.

Our first blog in this series showcases the work of Ana Guay ‘15 (BA, Classical Languages & Literatures, minor in Translation Studies). Having graduated with a Minor in Translation Studies, Ana completed a capstone project titled “A Voice Not to Be Broken: Translating the poetic catalogue in and after Homer.” Weaving together her interest in paratexts and translation studies, Ana grappled with the four separate catalogues (from Homer to Virgil) while also exploring the legacy of Homeric translations in English. Ana was awarded the prestigious Gates scholarship to study Classics at Cambridge University in 2015 and is currently pursing a PhD in Classical Studies at UCLA.

The following is an excerpt from Ana’s translation of Augusto Roa Bastos’s novel Thunder Among the Leaves (Spanish, Guaraní):

The mill was closed for cleaning and repairs after the sugar harvest. The stench of boilers filled the heavy and electric December night. All was quiet and still along the river. Neither the water nor the leaves could be heard. The threat of bad times had generated a tense atmosphere, like the black hollow of a bell, in which the silence seemed to sizzle with stifled whispers and secret cracks.

In that silence the music of the accordion rose from the gullies. It was a ubiquitous melody; a frayed one. It would be interrupted and then return to begin again in a different place alongside the rumble of the river. It was a nostalgic and ghostly sound.

“What’s that?” a stranger asked.

“The accordion of Solano,” an old man told him.


“Solano Rojas, the blind ferryman.”

“But don’t they say he died?”

“He did. What plays now is his soul.”

“Aicheyaranga, Solano!” murmured an old woman, crossing herself. The bulk of the sugar mill crouched, unmoving, in the darkness. A dog barked from afar, as if it barked from beneath the earth. Next to the fire, two or three naked children turned over in their mothers’ laps. One of them began, fussily, to whine with fright.

“Hush, my son. Listen to Solano. That’s the custom in El Paso.”

The counterpoint of a potoo, which shattered the hill’s quiet with its birdsong, returned a melody still more ghostly. The accordion sang now with a distant and mournful lament.

“He sounds like that when there’s no moon,” said the old man, lighting his cigar from a firebrand on which a little of the night was burning. “He must walk in search of her still.”

“Poor Solano!”

When the murmur of voices died away, it could be noticed that the ghostly accordion no longer sang in the throat of the river. Only the bell of the jungle kept ringing for a time, at some imprecise distance; afterwards the bird, too, fell silent. The last echoes skimmed over the river. The silence returned to being tense, heavy, dark.

The first flashes of lightning blazed up towards the west, to the right of the jungle. They were like fleeting eyelids of yellowish skin that rose and lowered suddenly over the immense eye of the thunder.

The accordion did not sound again that night in El Paso.

LRC Translation Club Mass Meeting

The LRC Translation Club will be hosting a mass meeting on Friday, January 20th from 5pm to 6pm in the Video Viewing Room!
If you are interested in translation initiatives, this is a great opportunity to talk about them. There will be pizza at the meeting so please RSVP.
Don’t miss out on this chance to connect with fellow emerging translators!

WN17 Course Spotlight | SAC 366 Cinema Babel: Subtitling and Dubbing Practicum

Have you ever wondered how movies move between languages? Or how those subtitles came to be on your screen? For all of you interested in getting hands-on experience in cinematic translation, we’re excited to announce that Professor Markus Nornes will be offering his course on the art of subtitling and dubbing during the WN2017 semester!

SAC 366: Cinema Babel shines a bright light on the many facets of film translation. Students will confront historical and theoretical readings in the first part of the course. They will then bring this theory into practice in group projects. One third of the class will involve learning how to subtitle; another third will involve dubbing and take place in the North Quad television studios.

The only requirement is at least two years of language study. Past students have translated from French, Spanish, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, Russian, Korean, and even Latin (yes, there is at least one film shot in Latin!).

Professor Nornes is an accomplished scholar of translation as well as a practicing audiovisual translator. He is the author of Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema (2007). His most recent essay on the translation and cinema, “Teaching Audiovisual Translation,” can be found in the anthology Teaching Translation: Programs, Courses, Pedagogies (ed. Lawrence Venuti).

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Translate-a-thon 2016 is in full swing!

The Fall 2016 Translate-a-thon is on October 28th, 29th, and 30th! Register now from the LRC webpage!

*There’s still time to join the fun!*
The Translate-a-thon is a short, intense, community-driven event when volunteers interested in translation come together to translate! We have collected videos, websites, and print from museums, non-profits, and university organizations… or bring your own project! You can work in teams or on your own.

Visit our event page for more details:

The Translate-a-thon is organized by the Language Resource Center in collaboration with the Department of Comparative Literature.

Translation Workshop with Diane Rayor

This Friday, October 21st, Diane Rayor (Classics, Grand Valley State University) will visit the University of Michigan campus for two events of special interest to students of poetry and translation:

Location: Classics Library (2175 Angell Hall)

12-1 pm: Diane Rayor, “What’s New with the New Sappho”
Classics Brownbag Series
2:30-4pm: Translation Workshop with Diane Rayor
Contexts for Classics (see details below)