By Sarah Moore
The Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages (DLCL) is offering a new minor program in translation studies this year.
The minor consists of 26 units in core, language, literature and elective courses and a final translation project conducted under the supervision of an instructor.The new program is aimed at students who want to explore what it means to adapt literary works to a different language and is available to students who have no experience in their chosen foreign languages of study as well as students who are native speakers in the language or languages they want to use in their final projects.
“All the courses and different components—the language study, the literature study, the electives—are meant to give the students a greater context in which to be more skilled,” said Cintia Santana, advisor for the minor program. “All of it is to make students better readers, which makes [them] a better translator.”
Gabriella Safran, chair of the DLCL, worked with Santana and Indra Levy, an associate professor in East Asian Languages and Cultures, to design the minor and its course list for the past two years.
“It’s a good moment for this type of program,” Safran said. “Living here and having this base of students with such diverse languages and living in such a connected world makes us aware of the degree to which our lives depend on translation.”
Santana said there was a relatively high number of students interested in the minor at Majors Night on Oct. 1. Safran said she anticipates that about five to 10 students will participate in the program this year—a range that fits the program well because, according to her, the minor is very advising intensive.
“Maybe we’ll get a huge crowd of students pouring in and we’ll have to think about a new structure to meet all of their needs,” Safran said. “You have to be open-minded as you institute a new program.”
One of two core classes for the minor, DLCL 293: Literary Translation taught by Santana, has been offered in the department before. Santana said that enrollment in this class—offered again this year during winter quarter—will give the DLCL a better sense of how many students are interested in the program.
Trent Walker ’10 took Santana’s class as an undergraduate and said he appreciated the chance to explore the critical theory concerning translation and work closely with his own writing in a safe space to exchange ideas.
“Something I would have really appreciated about a translation minor is being able to connect with other students who are doing that minor and to be able to learn from what they are struggling with or working with,” Walker said.
Aliya Deri ’13, who also took the Literary Translation course, said that even as a computer science major, translation was a valuable skill to learn.
“A course like this helps those in engineering—especially those in computer science—situate themselves and their work in the history of translation, which is something I had never done before,” Deri said.
Indeed, Safran said the minor program is for students of all areas of study.
“One reason why it’s exciting to be involved in languages and literatures is because we have students with such diverse languages and interests,” Safran said. “This minor is a way to give students a context, a structure, in which they can take their knowledge of language further, explore foreign cultures and then do something with it.”
Contact Sarah Moore at smoore6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.