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The Centrality of Translation to the Humanities: New Interdisciplinary Scholarship

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for twenty-five college and university faculty to examine the nature of translation and its central place in the humanities.

Elizabeth Lowe McCoy and Chris Higgins of the University of Illinois Center for Translation Studies (CTS) direct an institute designed to introduce participants to the rapidly emerging field of translation studies. After an overview of the field, four case studies allow participants to study translation as a "scholarly craft and cultural dynamic." Works from three continents and a variety of genres illustrate the complex issues that translation involves, both within and across cultures. McCoy, Gregory Rabasssa (City University of New York Graduate Center), and Suzanne Jill Levine (University of California, Santa Barbara) lead the first study on the mid-century rise of Inter-American literature. Rabassa's If This be Treason and Levine's The Subversive Scribe anchor discussion of the active collaboration between Gabriel García-Márquez, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges, and others during this time. Higgins, David Rosenberg (Princeton University), and Valerie Hotchkiss (University of Illinois) lead the second study on Biblical translation. Rosenberg's Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus and Naomi Seidman's Faithful Renderings, among others, complement diverse translations of Biblical passages. Thirdly, the study of Freud in translation, led by Higgins and Adam Phillips (University of York, UK) includes readings by Bruno Bettelheim, James Strachey, Anna Freud, and Phillips, who is editing a new translation of Freud's major writings. In the final study Higgins, William Gass (Washington University), and Rainer Schulte (University of Texas, Dallas) explore the translation of Rainier Maria Rilke's poetry. They read Gass' Reading Rilke, a comparison of fifteen translations of one of Rilke's Duino Elegies, among other selections. The CTS is housed in the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics, whose departments teach thirty-seven languages. In addition, participants have access to the foreign language and translation collections of Illinois' Rare Book and Manuscript Library. A day in Chicago at the Goethe Institute introduces participants to other possibilities for their work. Finally, regular working groups allow participants to discuss their own case study projects, and a blog hosted by McCoy and Higgins encourages publication and opportunities for collaboration and dissemination beyond the institute.

Faculty: Valerie Hotchkiss, Joyce Tolliver, Gregory Rabassa, Suzanne Jill Levine, David Rosenberg, Adam Phillips, William Gass, Rainer Schulte


Dates: July 6—27 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Elizabeth Lowe and Chris Higgins, University of Illinois Center for Translation Studies
Grantee Institutions: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Location: Urbana-Champaign, IL

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.