Mar 2010

I went into the class excited to learn about translation, but frankly, this class has been the most useless writing class I've taken at Columbia. Idra is sweet and vocal, but the class just lacks the depth needed in any introduction to translation studies. We only touch on theories of translation in the first two weeks of class, which was framed in a simplistic way of either being faithful to "sense" or "meaning" of a text. The readings chosen were not terribly provocative. They were mostly taken from the translator Eliot Weinberger, as if he is the definitive model for any type of translation. Sad to say, this class makes translation look cheap, parochial and new as a discipline. Idra spends way too much time talking about sending our work out to publishers/journals, because she has had some success in recent years with her translation work/poetry. I walked out of the semester thinking writing is all about getting recognised and paid. Nevertheless, the hands-on part of the class was pretty neat, and we got to workshop our classmates' pieces. If anything should change, this should be listed as a "workshop," and the readings should be more thought-provoking.

Feb 2006

This class is only half-way through, but I wanted to write to say how much I'm enjoying it! OK- I'm realizing that my French isn't as good as I thought it was- but he has us translating Frank O'Hara poems and Quebecois slang into English which can be hard. It also kicks ass to always be excited about the next text we'll tackle. Professor Helgeson is really approachable, speaks a beautiful French and gives an intellectual spin to an exercise that I thought would be a no-brainer. Who thought you'd actually learn about ideas in a translation class?