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SCAND 515 A: Translation in Scandinavian Studies

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 1:20pm
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Photo of Marianne Stecher
Marianne Stecher-Hansen

Syllabus Description:

In Spring 2021, SCAND 515 (Translations) will focus on literary translation practices in relation to Nordic literature, particularly genre-bending works by written by women.  The seminar will be taught by professional literary translators as a series of coordinated guest lectures, seminar discussions, and professionalization workshops.  A majority of the guest instructors are established professionals and award-winning translators of Nordic literature  The seminar explores methods and best practices within the field of literary translation and offers graduate students the opportunity to develop translations skills with feedback from experienced translators in their languages of specialization. English is the language of instruction and the language for the core course assignment, a translation sample.  The seminar emphasizes the reading of recent literary translations from the Nordic languages, Danish, Finnish, modern Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish as well as Baltic languages, into English.

This graduate seminar also directs attention to professionalization and training for work in the field of translation. Scheduled workshop sessions address numerous pragmatic questions, such as: “How to…” pitch a work to a publisher in the US; attain rights for a translation; negotiate a legal contract; apply for  translation awards and grants; prepare an effective sample translation; collaborate with an author; prepare for the publication process. Graduate students will read several book-length works of Nordic literature in English translation in conversation with the translators themselves.  Graduate students are encouraged to read the original texts simultaneously in their respective target languages (i.e., Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and/or Swedish), making use of the UW libraries holdings (books may be ordered online and picked up on campus on Tuesdays and Fridays, 10am to 4pm).

Schedule of Virtual Meetings: Mon/Wed. 12:30 – 2:20 pm.

Week #1:  Mon. 29 March:  Marianne Stecher-Hansen: Introduction/Course Overview

Opening: Elizabeth De Noma, freelance editor, translator, and publishing consultant, DeNoma Literary Services.

Wed. 31 March:  Michael Favala Goldman – Translating Ditlevsen’s Gift (1971).

Reading:  Tove Ditlevsen, The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency. Translated by Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020.

Week #2: Mon 5 April:  Michael Goldman – Professionalization topic:  Why translate literature? A Bridge between Cultures.

Wed. 7 April: Paul Norlén – Translating Selma Lagerlöf, Gösta Berlings Saga (1891). 

Reading:  Selma Lagerlöf, The Saga of Gösta Berling. Translated by Paul Norlén. New York: Penguin Classics, 2009 (assigned reading: chapters 1 – 6, and chapter 11).

Week #3: Mon 12 April.  Elizabeth De Noma and Paul Norlén - Professionalization topic: How to pitch a ‘classic’ to a publisher.

Wed 14 April.  Amanda Doxtater – Translating Karin Boye’s Kris (1934).

Reading:  Selections from Karin Boye, Crisis. Translated by Amanda Doxtater.  Norvik Press, 2020.

Week #4:  Mon 19 April: Katherine Hanson – Translating Amalie Skram’s Forraadt (1892); collaborative literary translation.

Reading: Amalie Skram, Betrayed. Translated by Katherine Hanson and Judith Messick.  London: Norvik, 2018.

Wed 21 April:  Olivia Gunn – Norwegian Literary Translation in Scholarly Publications.

Reading: short selection on Canvas

Week #5:  Mon 26 April: Tara Chace – Professionalization topic:  Translating triviallitteratur - children’s books, angsty teen novels, romance, fantasy, horror and murder mysteries.

Wed 28 April:  Lola Rogers – Professionalization Topic:  Navigating the publication process; from acquisition, to submission, editing and copyediting.

Week #6  Mon 3 May: Initial readings of sample literary translations by grad students.

Wed 5 May: Lola Rogers – Translating Sinisalo’s Enkelten verta (2011). 

Reading: Johanna Sinisalo, The Blood of Angels.  Translated by Lola Rogers. London: Peter Owen, 2014.

Week #7  Mon 10 May: Guntis Smidchens – Translating Baltic folk-songs and poetry.

Reading: short selection on Canvas.

Wed 12 May:  Initial readings of sample literary translations by grad students (Karin and Helen).

Week #8  Mon 17 May:  Larissa Kyzer – Translating Kristín Eiríksdóttir, Elín, ýmislegt (2017)

Reading:  Kristín Eiríksdóttir, A Fist or a Heart.  Translated by Larissa Kyzer. Seattle: AmazonCrossing, 2019. 

Wed 19 May: Larissa KyzerProfessionalization: Authorial Collaboration/Tips and Tricks for the Nordic Context.

Week # 9  Mon 24 May: Mark Mussari, Translation Active Decision-Making in Any Language.

Professionalization – Q and A session

Wed 26 May:     Final readings of sample literary translations - all students in seminar. 

Week #10  Mon 31 May:  Memorial Day – No class

Wed 2 June:  Final readings of sample literary translations - all students in seminar.


Evaluation: The central assignment for the course will be the completion of a polished literary translation sample (from the student's target Nordic or Baltic language into English).  The completed sample should be approximately 10 double-spaced pages in length (or ca. 2,500 words) .   The original ought to be a selection of literary prose (rather than poetry or drama) – in other words, fiction (rather than a non-fiction text); for example, a short story, novella, or the first ca. 10 pages of a novel or memoir.  Students will share their samples as readings in the seminar – and they are also expected to work with a literary translator (in their target language) on the translation. 


SCAND 515: Reading  (order these editions from Amazon or other book-sellers) – listed in order of reading:

  1. Tove Ditlevsen, The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency. Translated by Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020.
  2. Selma Lagerlöf, The Saga of Gösta Berling. Translated by Paul NorlénNew York: Penguin Classics, 2009.
  3. Karin Boye, Crisis. Translated by Amanda Doxtater.  London: Norvik, 2020.
  4. Amalie Skram, Betrayed. Translated by Katherine Hanson and Judith Messick.  London: Norvik, 2018. (Complimentary copies of Betrayed will be provided to students enrolled in SCAND 515)
  5. Johanna Sinisalo, The Blood of Angels. Translated by Lola Rogers.  London: Peter Owen, 2014.
  6. Kristín Eiríksdóttir, A Fist or a Heart. Translated by Larissa Kyzer.  Seattle: AmazonCrossing, 2019. 


Note: Graduate students enrolled in SCAND 515 may enroll simultaneously in SCAND 590 A (5 credits; Translation across the Disciplines), a team-taught seminar in Translation Studies, cross-listed with ASIAN 590 / FRENCH 590 / SLAVIC 600, in Spring quarter 2021.  A single, longer sample translation (ca. 20 pages) may be completed to fulfill the core assignment for both seminars (i.e. SCAND 515 and SCAND 590A), as long as there is a qualified faculty member willing to supervise and evaluate the completed translation. 


ASIAN 590 / FRENCH 590 / SLAVIC 600 and SCAND 590ATranslation across the Disciplines

Fridays, 11:30AM - 3:20PM

This team-taught, transdisciplinary, multilingual seminar aims to put graduate students in the humanities, social sciences, and other fields for whom translation is crucial to their scholarship in dialogue with scholars in Translation Studies. Among the goals of this seminar led each week by different faculty members from a range fields working in multiple languages, the organizing faculty hope that students will: 1) become familiar with the range of practical and interpretive uses translation is routinely put to in the course of research across arts, humanities, social sciences and beyond; 2) gain a sense of the spectrum of translation theories and practices that have been operative through time and be able to judge the applicability of particular approaches to particular texts; 3) establish and test a set of translator dispositions and competencies that can be expected to have universal validity for the practice of translation from and to any language; 4) establish and test a basic set of practical grammatical or stylistic correlations that apply when translating from a particular source language X (which will vary, depending on the student’s expertise) to target language Y (for our purposes, English); and 5) apply all of these knowledge sets and skills to selecting and translating a text from source language X into English at a level of accomplishment that ensures the translated version is suitable for publication across a range of genres and media.




Catalog Description: 
Literary and technical translation from Scandinavian, Finno-Urgric, and Baltic languages into English. Key translation theories and their applications. Exercises language skills by practicing and making use of different translation techniques. Offered: AWSp.
Last updated: 
February 19, 2021 - 11:56pm