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Teaching in Translation, Teaching as Translation

Sun, December 16, 10:00 to 11:30am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Federal 2 Complex

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Session Sponsor: In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies


What context does a translated text require? When is a teacher a translator? Is teaching itself an act of translation? This roundtable brings together instructors who teach with texts, both literary and historical, written originally in languages other than the language of instruction. Addressing the methodologies and philosophies of teaching in translation, and as an act of translation, participants will discuss pragmatic strategies for teaching texts in translation, as well as mechanisms for conveying contextual elements that require additional translation from the teacher’s knowledge to students’ frames of reference. Panelists will also consider how taking individual documents, artifacts, and works of literature out of their disparate contexts and (dis)placing them into a syllabus and a classroom constitutes an act of translation and will theorize about the role of the teacher as a translator. Some questions participants will consider include:

-To what extent, when, and how do instructors call attention to texts as translations?
-Do instructors teach literature translated from languages they do not know, or do not read well? -Do they teach literature they have never read in the original? If so, in what ways is this teaching different from teaching with materials they have read in the original source language?
-To what extent do instructors aim to preserve the potential foreignness or unfamiliarity of the cultural and linguistic contexts of Jewish Studies, and to what extent do you domesticate or familiarize it?
-Do students come to experience a kinship or sense of belonging within the culture of the classroom, and if so how does that relate to their sense of belonging to or ownership over the translated material itself?
-What are the power dynamics at play in teaching translated literature?
-Does the teacher hold additional authority because students must trust the translation while a teacher might be able to turn to the original?
-How do teachers manage this intermediary position and exclusive relationship to the source material?

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