Not a difficult class, but quite boring. I love languages and I thought this would be an interesting approach to it, but I just couldn't keep focus. It was really hard to force myself to go to class, because he takes attendance.
Prof Connor's class was very enjoyable. The field of Translation Studies is very new but he still manages to raise interesting issues throughout the semester. That being said I felt the class was kind of wishy-washy. I enjoyed it and thought it was a great class, and I don't regret taking it, but that being said, if you're looking for more practical, hands-on application, you might be a bit disappointed with this course. There is only one required translation assignment, though it is an option for the final. Given that it's a large lecture (100+ students) with only four TAs, it makes sense that there aren't many assignments. The lectures are often just Professor Connor discussing what he thought was important, and him trying (and sometimes failing) to solicit class participation. Sometimes certain readings were never discussed at all, though it is usually helpful to read them. Usually every week we'll have three or four readings (no more than 20 pages, usually they're very short) and Professor Connor will pick one or two and extensively discuss them. You may nor may not appreciate this approach. Even though Professor Connor runs a great class about an interesting topic, I felt his lecture style is pretty standard for a college course. His lectures aren't fabulously engaging though they are very informative. He tries his best to engage with students but he is very much the stereotypical "ivory tower" academic, and it comes across in his class. Most of what we do is dedicated to theory though I suppose his spring seminar on translation would be more dedicated to practice. I haven't taken it though, so I can't comment. All that being said he genuinely cares about us and he wants to see us do well. He calls us all aspiring translators (which I guess we are) and always has nice things to say about us, just for taking the class. He wants us to learn, and he seems to enjoy teaching, which is more than you can say for other professors at Barnard or Columbia. So all that said, if you have fulfilled the language requirement, you should definitely take this class. It is a very fun class in a subject that everyone is interested about since it really is everywhere nowadays. My TA was Valeria Luiselli. I am very glad to have been able to get her comments on my work. She was very approachable by email and after class, and very knowledgeable about the course material. She would also participate in the lecture with relevant information. All you could want from a TA. The other TAs were equally helpful, from what I could tell.
Professor Connor is one of the most brilliant, knowledgable and insightful people at Columbia. His lectures are simultaneously intellectual and funny. His class completely changed my world view and made me rethink a lot of what I wanted to get out of college. I have never enjoyed a final paper as much as I enjoyed the one for this class. While he is very Francophone oriented, there are many languages represented in the class and he appreciates and highlights that.
The best thing I can recommend is going to office hours; he does have a tendency to drone sometimes (in 20th Century French Literature, for sure), but the material he presents to you is engaging enough that it merits more conversation. You'll want to talk about these things, you'll want to think about them. He's also a funny guy and good to get to know. His office hours (when he remembers that he has them, I suppose) are very instructive, and I get the idea that he likes talking to his students more than reading them. Here he can explain why he doesn't explicitly advocate for the "faithful" translations or too "foreignizing" translations...(hint: can be the same thing). Professor Connor doesn't like grading papers. He leaves grading them, and assigning them, to the last minute. You want to know how you did in the class? Don't worry about it, you probably didn't get anything near a B. But if you don't want to do any work in the class, it's your loss, you're not learning anything he's teaching, which is actually pretty interesting. But at least if you don't show up and don't do your reading, go out and do something better with your time than laying in bed with your computer. At least in Translation Studies, the only way to really understand the material is if you start translating yourself. Grading: Translations/commentary: 25% Written critique/appreciation of a peer translation: 15% Midterm: 20% Class participation: 15% Final project: 25% Books (at CU Bookstore): Lawrence Venuti (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader (2nd ed. 2004) Brian Friel, Translations Additional texts made available through Courseworks Week I (6 and 8 September) In the beginningâ€¦ *Genesis 11 : 1-9 (Tower of Babel) *Lawrence Venuti, "How to Read an Translation" *Hugo Friedrich, "On the Art of Translation" Friedrich Nietzsche, "Translations" Friedrich Nietzsche, "On the Problem of Translation" Roman Jakobson, "On Linguistic Aspects of Translation" Week II (13 and 15 September) Some basic concepts J. W. von Goethe, "Translations" *W. von Humboldt, "Introduction" to his translation of Agamemnon *A. Schopenhauer, "On Language and Words" Friedrich Schleiermacher, On the Different Methods of Translating (ext.) Week III (20 and 22 September) Foreign languages, mother tongues Tuesday: *Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation (ext.); *Vassilis Alexakis, Foreign Words (ext.); *Gilles Deleuze, "Louis Wolfson; or, The Procedure" Thursday: *Alice Kaplan, French Lessons (ext.); *Jean Kwok, Girl in Translation (ext.); *Evelyn Nien-Ming Ch'ien, Weird English (ext.) Week IV (27 and 29 September) Tuesday 27 September: Guest, Sandra Smith, Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge University, and English translator of the works of IrÃ¨ne NÃ©mirovsky, will talk about her work as a translator. Thursday: Antoine Berman, "Translation and the Trials of the Foreign" Week V (4 and 6 October) Translation, Conflict, War Tuesday: *Lawrence Venuti, The Translator's Invisibility ch. 1; *Alice Kaplan, "Translation : the Biography of an Art Form" Thursday: *Antoine Berman, "The Project of a Productive Criticism" Midterm Week VI (11 and 13 October) Translation Criticism Tuesday: In-class discussion of peer translations (Assignment #1) Thursday: *Mona Baker, "Narratives in and of Translation" Week VI (18 and 20 October) Philosophy and Translation Tuesday: Walter Benjamin, "The Task of the Translator" Thursday: Benjamin (cont.)/activity Week VII (25 and 27 October) Translation and Postcolonialism I Tuesday: *Ngugi wa Thiong'o, "The Language of African Literature" and *Chinua Achebe, "The African Writer and the English Language" Thursday: G. Spivak, "The Politics of Translation" Week VIII (1 and 3 November) Translation and Postcolonialism II Tuesday 1 November: Preparation for guest visitor Thursday 3 November: Guest, distinguished poet and translator Arvind Krishna Mehrota will talk about his translations of Kabir. Week IX (10 November) Thursday 10 November: Translation and/as (Re)writing J. L. Borges, "The Translators of the Thousand and One Nights" *J. L. Borges, "An English Version of the Oldest Songs in the World" Week X (15 and 17 November) Tuesday 15 November: Translation, Globalization, and Migration: Community interpreting *Michael Cronin, "Babel Ãtha Cliath: The Languages of Dublin" *L. Jiang, "Community Interpreting" *Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation, "Community Interpreting" *M. Baker, "Ethics and Translation" Optional: Mary Phelan, "Legal Interpreters in the News in Ireland" [in class] Excerpt from film Dirty Pretty Things Thursday 17 November: Guest Lecturer Nancy Piore will speak to us about her experience interpreting for asylum seekers in the NY court system, and her work with women prisoners in Cameroon. Week XI (22 November) *Douglas Robinson, The Translator's Turn (ext.) [THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY] Week XII (29 November and 1 December) Brian Friel, Translations Itamar Even-Zohar, "The Position of Translated Literature Within the Literary Polysystem" *Zohar Shavit. Poetics of Children's Literature, ch. V ("Translation of Children's Literature" *Rachel Weissbrod, The Tel Aviv School Thursday 1 December Week XIII (6 and 8 December) Sociology of translation Lori Chamberlain, "Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation" *Anna Bogic, "The Story of the First English Translation of The Second Sex" Final project due FINAL EXAM (see Registrar's site) Travail du cours: 1. Participation (15%) 2. ExposÃ© oral (15%) 2. Deux devoirs Ã©crits (25% chacun) 3. Examen final (20%) PROGRAMME Semaine 1 (6 et 8 septembre) Introduction Semaine 2 (13 et 15 septembre) AndrÃ© Gide, La Symphonie pastorale Semaine 3 (20 et 22 septembre) AndrÃ© Gide, La Symphonie pastorale Semaine 4 (27 et 29 septembre) Georges Bataille, Le Bleu du ciel Semaine 5 (4 et 6 octobre) Georges Bataille, Le Bleu du ciel Albert Camus, L'Ã‰tranger Premier devoir Semaine 6 (11 et 13 octobre) Albert Camus, L'Ã‰tranger Semaine 7 (25 et 27 octobre) AndrÃ© Breton, Nadja Semaine 8 (1 et 3 novembre) AndrÃ© Breton, Nadja Semaine 9 (jeudi 10 novembre) (mardi 8 novembre: Election Day Holiday) AndrÃ© Breton, Nadja Marguerite Duras, Moderato cantabile Semaine 10 (15 et 17 novembre) (mardi 6 novembre: Election Day Holiday) Marguerite Duras, Moderato cantabile Semaine 11 (22 novembre) (24 novembre: Thannkgiving) Samuel Beckett, Nouvelles et Textes pour rien DeuxiÃ¨me devoir Semaine 12 (29 novembre et 1 dÃ©cembre) Michel Houllebecq, Extension du domaine de la lute Semaine 13 (6 et 8 dÃ©cembre) Patrick Modiano, Dora Bruder Examen final
To sum up this review, this class really disappointed me. I love languages, enjoy translation, and had high hopes. It's not challenging and it's the only class that I've ever skipped or nodded off in. STAY AWAY. (If you like languages, take Intro to Linguistics instead -- it's the exact opposite of this class. It's engaging, challenging, and super interesting. Don't make the mistake of taking this class.) The first class you learn the following: - translation is about decisions that have consequences - that you can translate towards or away from a culture - that Prof. Connor's teaching style involves lecturing in a slow, droning voice with little discussion I don't deny that Prof Connor is a nice guy, but the rest of the semester is spent repeating point (a) and (b) in various different ways. I kid you not, there is no need for you to come to class or do any reading whatsoever. Prof. Connor's lectures entirely involve repeating the reading, so you under on circumstance would ever HAVE to do both reading and showing up. The readings are often beautifully written, but dense and take forever to get to the point. Part of the problem of why this course is so soporific is that the field of Translation Studies is tiny and underdeveloped, so it's not exactly a subject you can go out and explore yourself. There's also little conflict in the field -- a lot of the reading just agrees with itself. The thing is that in places where there is disagreement, Prof Connor's provides readings that support one point of view, or suggests that he doesn't know which is the right answer, despite clearly supporting one view point during his lecture. This class is advantageous in that it provides: - an easy A - 3 free credits - an opportunity for freshmen to learn that certain classes can be skipped - a job interview talking point if you intend to do translation work (which pays really poorly, I might add, so it had better be a labor of love if you want to get involved in it) One final point. Do NOT confuse this class for an opportunity to improve your language ability. If you are perfectly bilingual, yes, you will have an advantage because you will produce better quality translations. If you suck at your second language, the sad thing is that you still have a very good chance at an A. For a translation class, you're not actually graded on your ability to translate at all.
Professor Connorâ€™s class made my semester. He is undoubtedly my favorite professor at Columbia. Yes, he does come off as the â€œstereotypical Ivy League professorâ€ with his sarcasm and entertaining but calm lectures. However, I found that his interest in Translation Studies and his love for French made him more than just a stereotypical professor. I would recommend his class 100% if the subject of Translation Studies interests you or if you are a devotee of the French language. Professor Connor tries to allow everyone to participate; he also tries not to monopolize the lecture. His class is very stress-free and thus allows you to focus more on translation studies.
At his best hilarious, knowledgeable, at his worst flaky and irrelevant, Intro. To Translation Studies was always full because he was such an entertaining and thoughtful professor. He definitely has a passion for translation studies, in fact he is one of the directors of the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard, but perhaps because it's a somewhat undeveloped field, the class often felt insubstantial. Readings for the class were light and well-chosen, but it wasn't necessary to actually read them. We were supposed to have three assignments, but the last was cancelled.
I had two classes with Prof. Connor. He's pretty cool--very laid back, reasonable about workload and deadlines/extensions. I suppose you don't really have to do any of the readings in either class, but I did most of them and other people seemed to as well; they're interesting and people want to be in his classes (especially Translation Studies), so it works out. He speaks really quietly so it's easy to space out/fall asleep during class, but in addition to knowing about lots of dense readings and complicated literary things he's also quite funny and if you drift off you'll miss some really interesting, entertaining things.
Intro. to Translation Studies was a new course this semester and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get a very necessary theoretical foundation in translation (and get some feedback for your translations!). The first half of the semester is all about different theories of translation. Professor Connor assigns great (and generally speedy) readings and then lectures on them in class. His lectures involve going over the reading (he really loves picking apart the text and doing little fascinating tangents) and then provoking a discussion. He covers everything, so even if it seems like he's just freely thinking and sharing ideas, he is getting his material across. You learn a lot and it's really, really painless. After the first half, you do a short translation assignment. The second half is all about practical application. There's interpreting, Oulipian translation, translating children's literature (which supposedly is being moved to the front of the syllabus next fall), and a whole array of other topics. Lots of fun topics. There were also three speakers (one on art and translation, one on translating poetry, and one on interpreting). Basically, if students told Professor Connor they wanted a certain type of speaker, he found them. Overall, this is a great class that attracts fantastic multilingual people. Professor Connor is not your typical ivy league professor who uses a large workload as a substitute for actual, applied learning. He understands that learning is about exposing students to theories, letting them interact with these ideas, and leaving an impression.. not about endless busywork. I would absolutely recommend taking this class and taking it with Professor Connor.