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for Translation Studies to be established at Illinois
Lynn, Humanities Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
The University of Illinois is gearing up to build hundreds of new bridges
to other countries and cultures – but it won’t be using
any of the traditional materials of construction.
These bridges will be built with the languages and literatures of the
The U. of I. announced on June 13 in New York that it is establishing
a Center for Translation Studies.
Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus, announced the creation
of the center during a reception for another translation unit at Illinois,
Dalkey Archive Press.
The press, which moved to the Urbana campus last December, is the leading
independent publisher specializing in literary translations of contemporary
international titles, mostly fiction.
The French Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York hosted
the event to celebrate its co-publication with the press of “As
You Were Saying: American Writers Respond to Their French Contemporaries.”
The book, to be released July 1, is a uniquely conceived collection
of short stories written by some of the best contemporary U.S. and French
authors. The collection’s editors are Fabrice Rozié, from
the French Cultural Services in New York; Esther Allen, from the PEN
American Center; and Guy Walter, from Villa Gillet, the French center
for contemporary art and thought in Lyon, France. Jean-David Lévitte,
the French ambassador to the United States, wrote the preface.
The U. of I. is confronting the dearth of translated books in the United
States by establishing the translation studies center, Herman said.
It will be “a new academic entity – a place where scholars
and students will study, perform and enhance the complex act of transforming
a literary experience created in one language into an equivalent experience
in another language,” Herman said.
“The knowledge of art and business will be one of Dalkey’s
vital contributions to the center, giving students a real-world experience
available nowhere else.”
But the center also will be an interdisciplinary collaboration, the
chancellor said, drawing on scholars from many departments in the humanities.
Over time, other academic units will add their expertise as the center
expands from literary translation to include commercial and legal translation
and eventually to develop “truly functional machine translation
applications,” he said.
“Together, the center and Dalkey will elevate the process of translation,
making it better understood and more widely applied than ever before.”
Douglas Kibbee will serve as interim director of the center, under the
auspices of the newly formed School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics
in the College of Liberal Arts and
Kibbee, a professor of French and of linguistics at
Illinois and executive coordinator of the university’s Foreign
Language Building units, will become director of the new school in August.
According to Kibbee, “There are three or four significant translation
programs in this country, but what we are proposing is significantly
different from any of them.”
In addition to offering literary translation in conjunction with Dalkey
and the English department’s
Creative Writing Program, the center “will create other connections
with our ‘full-service’ university – such as machine
translation with computer science, simultaneous interpretation in conjunction
with the Fire Service Institute and business translation in conjunction with the College
of Business and international journalism,” Kibbee said.
Also, the University Library is digitizing translated works “as a way of supporting the study
of translation, including multiple translations of a single work,”
“With the presence of Dalkey, we also will be able to give our
students a chance to work on the business side of translation –
editing and publicity, for example – and bring to campus a number
of translators for short master classes,” Kibbee said.
The center also will offer major international conferences on translation
issues and create a publication series on issues in translation.
Dalkey Archive Press is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to
promote international cultural understanding and provide a forum for
dialogue for the literary arts,” said John O’Brien, the
director of the press.
“Since 1984, the press has made available to readers the finest
works of world literature from the past 100 years. Our intention is
to serve as a permanent home for these works, so that they will continue
to be read by present and future generations.”
Dalkey publishes 30 titles a year in English and has more than 350 books
in print, and its Web site has an annual readership of 600,000. Dalkey
has received many honors, and its authors have won the Nobel Prize,
the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics
With regard to Dalkey’s latest title, “As You Were Saying,”
the editors invited seven French authors to write short stories that
would be translated into English; their stories would be paired with
seven U.S. authors, who, in turn, either completed the stories they
received or produced companion stories of their own.
The paired authors are Marie Darrieussecq and Rick Moody; Camille Laurens
and Robert Olen Butler; Jacques Roubaud and Raymond Federman; Lydie
Salvayre and Rikki Ducornet; Grégoire Bouillier and Percival
Everett; Philippe Claudel and Aleksandar Hemon; and Luc Lang and John
Funding for the book also came from the Illinois Arts Council, Villa
Gillet, the Urban Community of Lyon, France, and the U. of I.