Just back from the Pedogogies of Translation conference at Barnard College last weekend. While the title doesn't suggest that people were beating down the doors to get in, it was a full house, with plenty of lively debate and discussion. The event was sponsored by Barnard's Center for Translation Studies and co-organized by center director Peter Connor and translation studies scholar and translator Lawrence Venuti. TIR patrons may recall that Venuti's "Towards a Translation Culture" was the inaugural essay in its Forum on Literature and Translation last year.
The conference featured teachers of translation from an array of institutional domains, from applied linguistics to comparative literature and creative writing. Topics ranged from hands on intra-lingual writing exercises to computer-assisted, technology driven approaches, and a number of broad culture- and theory-based discussions that included post-coloniality, poetics, cultural studies, information technology, and more.
Mr. Venuti had asked three of us (David Johnston from Queens University, Belfast), Natalia Teplova (from Concordia University, Montreal, and me) not to prepare a formal presentation in advance but instead to listen to the various approaches and do some comparative work during the last panel on Saturday. As a result, I don't think I have worked so hard at a conference since I was in graduate school. A snippet from my notes are in the pic above. (David leaned over as I was preparing to give my comments and said, "Good luck reading that.")
Despite the effort, the work was no chore, and I learned myriad new things, both in terms of teaching techniques and facts. I was, for instance, struck by the considered classroom use of multiple musical performances of one and the same piece of instrumental music by Peter Filkins for his undergraduate creative writing seminars at Bard College; and, for another instance, Susan Bernofsky's formation of the reading list for her translation workshop based on the students who are in the class, which is only possible if (a) you know the field extremely well; and (b) you're paying close attention to the people in your class.
From a quite different angle, I was struck by some of the statistics cited by Francoise Massardier-Kenney, for instance, that translation is among the top ten fastest growing business sectors worldwide, that by conservative estimates 42% of that market is in the U.S. while the U.S. has a miniscule number of programs that actually teach translation; or by John Balcom, for instance,