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Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Classical Translations Contest!

Every year, Contexts for Classics invites graduate and undergraduate students in all departments and programs across the University of Michigan to take part in its Classical Translations Contest. This contest is intended to highlight the work of students who are interested in the process of translation as a creative, intellectually meaningful enterprise. In recent years, the contest has expanded beyond translations of ancient Greek, modern Greek, and Latin, to include languages taught in the departments of Middle East Studies and Asian Languages and Cultures.

This year, five prizes were awarded by the Department of Classical Studies and the Modern Greek program, and one by the Department of Middle East Studies. Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Classical Studies/Modern Greek

  • Ciara Barrick, ‘In Karpasia, 15th August 2009’ by Niki Marangou
  • Will McClelland, Homer, Iliad 23.15–82
  • Yule Eve Osband, Horace, Odes 4.12
  • Melina Varlamos, ‘Refugees tell their stories. Will you listen to them?’ by Kostis Christodoulou
  • Hussein Alkadhim, Euripides, Medea

Middle East Studies

  • Sundus Al Ameen, ‘He is unfaithful in what he promised’, by al-Walīd ibn `Ubayd Allāh al-Buhturī

Learn about the translators and read their translations on the Contexts for Classics website.

The 2022 Senior Prize in Literary Translation is now accepting translations!

The Department of Comparative Literature is pleased to invite graduating seniors in all departments at the University of Michigan to submit entries for our annual prize in literary translation. This prize is intended to encourage undergraduate students to develop projects in translating into English a literary text originally written in another language. 
Submissions are due by April 14 and will be judged by a team of faculty members in Comparative Literature. 
A prize of $500 will be awarded at the end of the winter term. The winner will be invited to read at the department’s graduation and awards ceremony on April 29th.

1. All seniors graduating in Summer 2021, Fall 2021, or Winter 2022, and affiliated with any department at the University of Michigan, are eligible to submit a translation.  

2. Students may choose to translate into English any literary text (or excerpt of a literary text) that was originally written in another language and in any literary genre (e.g. fiction, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction).  

3. A submission should consist of your translation (no more than 10 pages), and a brief translator’s preface (no more than 5 pages) that introduces the text and author you have chosen and explains your method of translation.  If you have worked significantly with previously available translations, glosses, or commentaries, please note these in your translator’s preface. Make sure your submission references all texts and tools you have used to produce your translation (i.e. other translations you have consulted, translation software you may have used, etc).

4. Please submit your translation in the following format: an email listing your name, your graduation date, your major(s) and minor(s), and the complete title and author of the text you have translated, and an email attachment without your namethat includes your translator’s prefaceand your translation, along with a copy of the text you have translated in its original language.

5. Your submission should be emailed to no later than 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 14, 2022.  

Questions? Contact

Building Bridges over Walls: Midwestern Translation Networks and Eastern European Literatures

Join us on Friday March 18 for the sixth seminar in the Mellon Sawyer Seminar series “Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest”

Visiting speakers: Clare Cavanagh (Northwestern), Yakov Klots (Hunter College), Joanna Trzeciak (Kent State) and Russell Scott Valentino (Indiana)

Local speakers: Herb Eagle (UM Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures), Jindřich Toman (UM Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures), Piotr Westwalewicz (UM Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures)

Since the early 1960s and continuing to this day, if an American is reading a book by a contemporary Central European writer, chances are extremely good that the book was translated and/or published at one of a small handful of universities in the Upper Midwest. Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Northwestern, among a few others, have long served conspicuously as conduits for writers living in a kind of historical—and, for much of the twentieth century, political—frontier. It is through these institutions that many such writers have entered the world literary marketplace. Though rarely remarked, this concentration of activity has deep demographic, cultural, and geopolitical roots, tying the middle of one continent to the middle of another and providing a durable link between immigrant communities and their points of origination.

This interdisciplinary seminar retraces the institutional history of midwestern translation networks for Eastern European literature. The day’s activities, which are intended both for our scholarly community and the general public, will include a panel on Ann Arbor’s conspicuous role as a hub of Eastern European literature; an online and in-person exhibit of archival and print materials; an expert panel on tamizdat (banned literature published abroad and often smuggled back into its country of origin); an expert panel on the present and future of globalizing Eastern European and Central Asian literature; and a celebratory reading of poetry in translation.

Date and time: March 18, 2022, 10-4:15 ET

Location: 1010 Weiser Hall, 500 Church St.

10-10:45: “Samizdat from a Basement in Ann Arbor”: Piotr Westwalewicz, Herbert Eagle, Jindrich Toman

11-11:45: Presentation of Building Bridges Over Walls Exhibit (graduate students)

12-1: Tamizdat and the Cold War: Yakov Klots (Hunter College, The Tamizdat Project) and Jessie Labov (Central European University)

2-3: Translation Networks Today: Russell Scott Valentino (Indiana University, Slavica Publishers) and Joanna Trzeciak (Kent State University)

3:15-4:15: “Listening against Silence”: A Reading of Literature in Translation with Clare Cavanagh (Northwestern University)

In person for U-M students, faculty, and staff. Registration for in-person attendance is required. Please RSVP here by March 15:

To attend via Zoom, register at:

Happening Friday, February 18, 2022! Building Translation Networks in the Midwest with HathiTrust

Poster for Building Translation Networks in the Midwest with Hathi Trust

Join us via Zoom on Friday, February 18th for Building Translation Networks in the Midwest with HathiTrust, the fifth Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest.

Key representatives from HathiTrust, Google Books and UM Library will offer behind-the-scenes looks at what led to the development of the HathiTrust Digital Library, with a particular focus on HathiTrust materials in languages taught at the University of Michigan. Researchers and instructors will offer lightning talks on examples in less commonly taught languages to reflect on the challenges of working with source texts and translations in non-roman writing systems, which are difficult to catalogue and especially to render searchable using OCR (optical character recognition).

The day will end looking forward to another event in the Fall, where instructors, students and other users will be invited to take part in an online game aimed at making these materials more accessible to a broader range of users, and to encourage exploration of HathiTrust as another site of translation.

Register here

Announcing the 2022 CfC Classical Translations Contest

Contexts for Classics presents the 21st annual

The Contexts for Classics steering committee is pleased to announce that its annual Classical Translations Contest has been expanded to include languages taught in the departments of (I) Classical Studies, (II) Asian Languages and Cultures, and (III) Middle East Studies. Graduate and undergraduate students from across the University of Michigan are invited to submit literary translations of texts from (I) Latin, Ancient Greek, and Modern Greek; (II) classical Japanese, Chinese, and Sanskrit; and (III) Akkadian, Assyrian, Coptic, Syriac, Biblical Hebrew, Hittite, Middle Egyptian, Sumerian, and Classical Armenian, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.

Rules and Prizes
1. Submissions are due by 5:00pm ET on Thursday, March 31, 2022 to Kathryn Colman (, Academic Program Specialist in Comparative Literature.

2. Translations should be submitted via email attachment, Dropbox, or Google Drive. In the body of your email ,please include (i) the title, author, and original language of the text you have translated, (ii) your name, and (iii)an indication of whether you are an undergraduate (with title of major) or graduate student (with title of program).

3. Along with your submission, please include a copy of the original text you have translated.

4. All submissions will be forwarded for anonymous judging to one of three panels of faculty members in departments corresponding broadly to groups (I), (II), and (III) above.

5. Students affiliated with any UM department are eligible.

6. All work should consist of original translations/interpretations of works from the languages listed above.

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

8. Maximum length of written submissions is five double-spaced pages.

9. In each category (undergraduate and graduate), the prizes will be $100 each.

10. Winners will be invited to publish their translations on the Contexts for Classics website (

Announcing Absinthe, vol. 27: Through German

Absinthe: World Literature in Translation is happy to announce the print release of volume 27, our 2021 issue, Through German.

cover of absinthe volume 27

Co-edited by Lauren Beck, Elisabeth Fertig, Ivan Parra Garcia, Lena Grimm, Özlem Karuç, Michaela Kotziers, Elizabeth Sokol, Veronica Cook Williamson and Silke-Maria Weineck. Absinthe is edited and published by the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with MPublishing.

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The voices of many countries echo through the selection of contemporary literature featured in Absinthe 27: Through German. Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are all represented in this issue, but so are England, Ghana, Israel, Moldova, Romania, Syria, Turkey, and Ukraine. And while Absinthe 27 does have a distinct international flair, it is not a selection of Migrantenliteratur, a category that fences in writers as foreign rather than German or Austrian or Swiss. Rather, the authors represented are all integral to the German-speaking world and its representation, whether the authors were born there, arrived decades ago, or came recently to perhaps find another home, perhaps pass through. Translated and edited by Lauren Beck, Elisabeth Fertig, Ivan Parra Garcia, Lena Grimm, Özlem Karuç, Michaela Kotziers, Elizabeth Sokol, Silke-Maria Weineck, and Veronica Cook Williamson, Through German presents a fuller picture of what it means to live in the Germanosphere in the 21st century.

For more info visit:

Symposium on Translation and the Making of Arab American Community

Friday, November 12, 2021
10:00 am – 5:30 pm (hybrid)
Join us in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the Michigan Room of the Michigan League or virtually through Zoom

This hybrid one-day symposium at the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor is co-sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature, the Arab and Muslim American Studies Program (AMAS), the Department of Middle East Studies (MES), and the 2021-22 Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest. Co-organized by Khaled Mattawa and Graham Liddell, the symposium features three panels that reflect on different forms of translation in Arab American communities in the Midwest. The event culminates a reading by Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail.

The symposium will be held on the University of Michigan central campus in Ann Arbor, with the option to attend by remote access.

This event is free and open to the public.

For registration visit

Event Schedule:

PANEL 1 (10:30-11:45 am): Translation for Community Needs

This discussion will focus on the translation and interpretation services that are crucial for maintaining wellness and facilitating civic engagement and personal development among Limited English Proficiency (LEP) communities in Michigan, particularly Arab Americans. Moderated by Ghassan Abou-Zeineddine (professor at UM-Dearborn), the panel includes Karen Phillippi (director of the Office of Global Michigan), Anisa Sahoubah (director of ACCESS’s Youth and Education department), and Bilal Hammoud (chair of the Language Access Task Force for the State of Michigan).

PANEL 2 (1:00-2:45 pm): Arab American Media

This panel will center on the ways that Midwest Arab-American communities past and present have represented themselves in media. Moderated by Graham Liddell (Ph.D. candidate, U Michigan), the panel includes Ali Harb (reporter for Al Jazeera English), Hany Bawardi (professor at UM-Dearborn), William Youmans (professor at the George Washington University), and Lana Barkawi (Executive and Artistic Director of Mizna).

PANEL 3 (3:00 – 4:15pm): Living in Translation

Our final panel will feature a conversation between three prominent Arab-American authors and translators about the aesthetics and politics of Arabic–English translation, within and beyond the realm of literature. Moderated by Nancy R. Roberts (translator of Arabic fiction), the panel includes Khaled Mattawa (poet, translator, and professor at U Michigan), Fady Joudah (poet, physician, and translator), and Dunya Mikhail (poet and lecturer at Oakland University).

4:30 – 5:30 pm: Reading by Dunya Mikhail
The symposium will culminate in a reading by Iraqi-American poet, Dunya Mikhail.

This symposium is is co-sponsored by the Arab and Muslim American Studies Program and the Departments of Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies, as part of the 2021-22 Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest.

Coming to America: Translating Arabic Fiction in the Age of Global Liberation

Nancy Roberts, free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor

Join Comparative Literature as we welcome Nancy Roberts, free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor on November 11th, 2021 @ 4:30pm in room 4310 of the Modern Languages Building.

Translators of literary works perform numerous functions simultaneously in relation to both a written work and its author. These functions include the linguistic, the cultural, the socio-political and the personal. Varied though they are, these functions might be summed up in the words “partner” and “mouthpiece.” After a brief detour into how her life trajectory led her to the field of Arabic-English translation, Nancy Roberts will relate her attempts to serve as “partner” and “mouthpiece” in the process of translating works originating in Palestine (Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of White Horses [زمن الخيول البيضاء], Lanterns of the King of Galilee [قناديل ملك الجليل] and Gaza Weddings [أعراس آمنة], and Ahlam Bsharat’s Codename: Butterfly [اسمي الحركي فراشة]) and Libya (Najwa Bin Shatwan’s, The Slave Yards [زرايب العبيد], and Ibrahim al-Koni’s The Night Will Have Its Say [كلمة الليل في حق النهار]).

Nancy Roberts is a free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor with experience in the areas of modern Arabic literature, politics and education; international development; Arab women’s economic and political empowerment; Islamic jurisprudence and theology; Islamist thought and movements; and interreligious dialogue. Literary translations include works by Ghada Samman, Ahlem Mostaghanemi, Naguib Mahjouz, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Ibrahim al-Koni, Salman al-Farsi, Laila Al Johani, and Haji Jabir, among others. Her translation of Ghada Samman’s Beirut ’75 won the 1994 Arkansas Arabic Translation Award; her rendition of Salwa Bakr’s The Man From Bashmour (Cairo: AUC Press, 2007) was awarded a commendation in the 2008 Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Translation, while her English translations of Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Gaza Weddings (Cairo: Hoopoe Press, 2017), Lanterns of the King of Galilee (AUC Press, 2015) and Time of White Horses (Cairo: Hoopoe Reprint, 2016) won her the 2018 Sheikh Hamad Prize for Translation and International Understanding. She is based in Wheaton, Illinois.