Translation Studies Concentration
Translation is the oldest method used in teaching foreign languages. Other new pedagogies have sometimes supplanted it, but it remains at the heart of language teaching, often at the most advanced levels of mastery when nuance, context and the specificity of a language and culture can only be suggested through the trials, errors and impossibility of translation.
Today, the difficulties of translating may seem solvable with technological tools. Yet, a successful translation is more than a mechanical transfer of meaning from one language to another, no matter how advanced the technology. Context, history, culture, ethical considerations, logic, rhetoric and politics all need to be considered and taken into account. Translation is that space where language, culture, history, politics and incommensurable difference all collide and sometimes cohere to make sense. At a time of intensive globalization, when cultures and languages seek common understanding, one could argue that it is an indispensable discipline.
A concentration in translation studies will appeal to students studying a foreign language and culture and who want to refine their knowledge of the foreign language through translation. It will also appeal to students who want to create a bridge between two majors, one of which is in a foreign language and culture and the other in a different discipline. Student concentrators may not only be drawn to the literary side of translation; they may also seek to link their knowledge in the social sciences or sciences to their practice of a foreign language, translating governmental or legal documents, working with immigrant or refugee communities who need the help of a translator or interpreter, or translating scientific papers.
The requirements for the concentration are deliberately flexible to allow you to pursue the translation practice that most suits your interests or needs—from literary to technical translation to the ethical complexities that arise in interpretation.
You can count no more than three of the academic courses for both the concentration and your major. These courses may be taken within the Five Colleges or while abroad. In addition to the required courses below, you must demonstrate an achievement (300 or above level) in the foreign language from which you translate.
CLT 150: The Art of Translation (2 credits, S/U, offered every spring semester)
- One course with a focus on translation theory, translation or practice (4 credits)
- Two courses in the language/literature/culture of the foreign language (8 credits)*
- One elective in translation studies, linguistics, the foreign language or one elective that focuses on problems of language (4 credits)
*Students whose native language is not English may take courses in English language/literature/culture to satisfy this requirement.
TRX 330/CLT 330: Translation Across Borders
The capstone seminar brings together a cohort of concentrators to discuss the final translation project that each student undertakes with the guidance of their mentor in the concentration and to situate the project within the framework of larger questions that the work of translation elicits. The seminar readings will focus on renowned practitioners' reflections on the difficulties and complexities of translating, the obstacles, discoveries and solutions that the translator encounters. We will read a series of essays that engage with the conflicting interpretations and nuances of translations in 14 languages of Ferdinand Oyonos' iconic 1956 African novel, Une vie de boy. We will compare how these translations transform the original novel and question the concept of original text as it interacts with the culture and the language into which it is translated. As part of the capstone seminar, and in consultation with your faculty mentor, you will work on a final translation project (10 pages minimum, depending on the type of translation) with a substantial introduction that reflects on the obstacles, difficulties and successes of the task of translation.
In some cases, an honors thesis that either is a translation or reflects on translation, can be substituted for the capstone translation project.
Two practical experiences are required:
- A minimum of one semester, or equivalent, studying abroad in the foreign language and culture. International students may count their study at Smith as study abroad.
- An internship or independent research project that focuses on translation/interpretation or cross-cultural issues and that engages the foreign language in a significant way and meets the practical experience requirements.
You will complete two different practical experiences to fulfill the requirements for the concentration. Each internship, volunteer or work experience must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Consist of 100 hours of work—roughly equivalent to a semester-long campus commitment or a 2.5-week full-time internship. (In some situations, a work experience may be concomitant with academic study that bears credit. The work component should be distinct and, on its own, satisfy the 100-hour minimum.)
- Focus on substantive, content-based work.
- Occur after your arrival at Smith.
- Be approved by your concentration adviser.
Note: If Praxis funding is used to support the experience, there may be requirements in addition to those outlined here.
To receive credit for your practical experience, you must:
- Receive preapproval from your concentration adviser using the Practical Experience Approval Form. (If you already completed a practical experience before entering the Translation Studies Concentration, you may be eligible to receive credit for one experience. Instructions on retroactive practicum experiences are below).
- Have your practicum supervisor complete the Supervisor Evaluation Form. Then meet with your concentration adviser to discuss your experience and sign the form.
- Participate in the Concentration Reflection Program (dinners, meetings, retreats, etc.) during both your junior and senior years.
Retroactive Approval for Practical Experiences
With your adviser's approval, a practical experience completed before entering the Translation Studies Concentration may be accepted provided that it consisted of at least 100 hours and took place after your senior year of high school and within two years of matriculating at Smith. Please consult your concentration adviser, and then document your experience by completing the Practical Experience Approval Form retroactively with your concentration adviser.
A deadline for submitting this paperwork to Sara Lark will be communicated to you after you have been accepted into the concentration.
Financial support for internships or practical experiences may be available through the Office for International Study's International Experience Grants, Blumberg Traveling Fellowships and the Anita Volz Wien '62 Global Scholars Fund.
The Lazarus Center for Career Development offers Praxis stipends for unpaid summer internships.
A number of other grants for specific regions may also be available for students studying or interning abroad or in immigrant communities in the United States.
You will attend two workshops to guide you in developing your E-Portfolio, one during the January interterm as you begin the concentration and one in September upon your return from study abroad or another practical experience.
The E-Portfolio will include:
- a detailed language self-assessment
- a reflection on your language-learning
- a reflection on how your practical experiences have deepened your understanding of the language and culture you are studying
- a shortened version of the introduction to your final translation project
In consultation with your adviser, you must spend a semester, or the equivalent, studying abroad in the foreign language and culture of your focus. Studying at Smith College may qualify as a study abroad experience for international students.
See the Office for International Study for some possible options.
The following is a sample of possible courses, which should be chosen in consultation with your concentration adviser. Not all of these courses are offered each year. Consult the current course catalogs to check availability.
FYS 174 Merging and Converging Cultures: What is Gained and Lost in Translation
CLS 260 Transformations of a Text: Shape-Shifting and Translation
CLT 204 Queering Don Quixote
EUST 303/ENG 320 Literature as Translation
HACU-0222-1 Introduction to Literary Theory
HACU-0219-1 Poetry in/as Translation - Borders and Bridges
HACU-0278 Introduction to Comparative Literature
Mount Holyoke College
FRN 361 Atelier de Traduction
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
CompLit 551 Translation and Technology
CompLit 581 Intro to Interpreting and Translation Research and Practice I
CompLit 582 Intro to Interpreting and Translation Research and Practice II
CompLit 751 Theory and Practice of Translation
SPANISH 397ET Special Topics: Translation Today: Spanish-English
SPANISH 697TR Special Topics: Travel and Translation
Consult individual language and culture departments in the Five Colleges for course listings. Almost all intermediate and advanced courses taught in the target language and focusing on literature or culture can count toward the concentration.
CLS 150 Roots: Greek and Latin Elements in English (2 credits)
ENG 170 The History of the English Language
ENG 207 The Technology of Reading and Writing
PHI/PSY 213 Colloquium: Language Acquisition
PHI 236 Linguistic Structures
PSY 313 Seminar in Psycholinguistics: Language and Thought
University of Massachusetts Amherst
LINGUIST 101 People and their Language
LINGUIST 190A Language Acquisition and Human Nature
LINGUIST 201 Introduction to Linguistic Theory
LINGUIST 397LH Special Topics - Language Acquisition
SPANISH 497TC-ST Spanish Translation for Community Health Services
COMPLIT 551 Translation and Technology
Applications are accepted in April and November.
Applications will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee to determine the feasibility of the proposed course of study in the Translation Concentration along with the your intended or declared major. Accepted students will be assigned to an adviser who will oversee your progress through the program and approve internships.
To complete the registration for the concentration, you need to fill out the Declaration of Concentration form from the Office of the Registrar and have it signed by the director of the Translation Studies Concentration.