We host series of readings and lectures focused on translation. These events aim prompt conversations about the topics of translation and identity across campus, drawing on previous initiatives and also hopefully lead to new interactions.

We consider how various aspects of translation–from the translator’s background to choices about target language and distribution–shape the understanding of a work as Jewish. Other questions include the role of self-translation within Jewish Studies, the complexity of translating multilingual works, and the phenomenon of first edition translations (e.g., German exile writers who wrote in German but whose work first appeared in English or Spanish translation). We also draw on the diverse linguistic knowledge of Duke’s community to consider works that have not been translated into English, calling attention to the act of translation as a formative cultural and political act.

Our first visiting translator for the translation series was Michael Hofmann, who gave a reading with Q&A on March 24, 2022. Hofmann is an acclaimed critic, poet, and translator, whose essays regularly appear in the London Review of Books and Poetry Magazine. He has translated over 70 books from German into English, including works by Hans Fallada, Franz Kafka, Ernst Jünger, Heinrich von Kleist, Joseph Roth, and Wim Wenders. This in-person event was held at the Franklin Humanities Institute’s Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Smith Warehouse, Bay 4.

Our second visiting translator for the translation series was Ann Goldstein, who discussed literary translation and read from her own translations on September 8th. Ann Goldstein is best known as the award-winning translator of Elena Ferrante. In addition to her work as head copy-editor of The New Yorker, she is also a prolific translator of other important works from Italian into English, including those of Primo Levi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marina Jarre, Piera Sonnino, Nadia Terranova, and Amara Lakhous. This in-person event was held at the Carpenter Conference Room, Rubenstein Library 249.

Our last translation event will be a dialogue, Translation and World Literature. The dialogue will take place April 4th, 2024 in Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library 153.