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- Major in Comparative Literature
- Minor in Translation Studies
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- Senior Prize in Literary Translation
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Students pursuing the undergraduate Minor in Translation Studies have two options to receive credit for the capstone project. The first option is to register for COMPLIT 495 (Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature, offered only in the fall semester). As a student in this class, you will have an opportunity to develop and complete your capstone translation project, in regular consultation with the faculty member teaching the course.
The second option is to design and complete your capstone project as an independent study, either in the fall or winter term (registration for spring/summer term only in special circumstances). You may register for COMPLIT 498 (Independent Study with the faculty member serving as Translation Studies Adviser), or you may propose an independent study with another faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project.
Consult the minor handbook for procedures on approval of the capstone project and to download the capstone project forms.
Past Capstone Projects
Alycia Bird (BA, Linguistics) decided to focus on the more theoretical aspects of translation for their capstone project by restarting the Canon Translation Journal, a University of Michigan online publication that shares students’ translations. Alycia gained many skills such as communication, managing expectations, leadership, and website design. Through this project, Alycia was able to appreciate translation more as an art form, and saw how important it can be outside of direct literary translation. They plan on using their minor to translate marketing campaigns for different languages and cultures, believing strongly that translation studies can be of value to anyone.
Samantha Dunlap (BA, International Studies and Spanish) translated a series of twenty-two sonnets and three canciones (longer poems) about the myths of Daphne and Apollo and Hero and Leander. Throughout her project, she was able to become more familiar with searching for poems pertaining to the themes she was looking for, which were love and heartbreak, predator and prey.
Ashley Duong (BA, International Studies and Psychology) created a project that involved translating 2020 election information into Vietnamese. This included creating videos which explained the voting process in the United States and how to vote, as well as designing a FAQ section, website, and Facebook page for accessibility to the Viatnemese community. Ashley learned the important skills of flexibility and adaptability because she was forced to drastically adjust her project to a virtual format due to COVID. She also was able to hone her professional Viatnemese vocabulary that she had not previously been exposed to as much. Ashley believes translation is important because it allows different communities to come together, and she hopes to utilize these skills wherever she can throughout her life.
Lauren Levitt (BA, International Studies and Spanish) completed her capstone project working with the University of Michigan Language Resource Center and the History Department’s Immigrant Justice Lab. She translated documents from Spanish to English for the lawyers of the Michigan Immigration Rights Center. In participating in this project, she gained a much broader vocabulary related to the legal field and learned the impact of translators in this particular field. While her after graduation plans are not directly connected to translation studies, she hopes to utilize her skills by translating similar documents in a community service or volunteer setting.
Arthur Mengozzi (BA, International Studies and Russian) worked on translating a 75-page Russian journal “The Chinese Preacher,” from 1938. This journal aimed to unite the Russian diaspora in China following the Russian civil war, but ultimately it ceased its project in 1956. By working on this project, Arthur was able to refine his skills with relative and participial clauses, which were very extensive in this Russian work. The most important part of this for him was expressing human emotion and establishing communication across cultures. Arthur sees translation as a way to unite and understand others, especially in this particular journal because these communities and voices were essentially lost. He hopes to be able to continue to do this sort of work whenever he can.
Hannah Parton (BA, Comparative Literature, Russian, and Spanish) chose to translate foreign songs into stories and then analyze their relation to foreignization versus domestication. In other words, how much a song still looks like a song in story form, or how much it deviates from its original in genre. This is called lyrical-prosaic translation. She translated the song “Marine Merchande” by Les Cowboys Frignants (French-Canadian) and several songs from the rock opera Legado de una Tragedia by a Spanish band of the same name. Hannah values her translation skills, and this project helped to further her understanding of the more abstract side to the translating world. She plans to use her skills in the future as much and as long as she can.
Ryan Sahijdak (BA, German) translated a 57-page document called “Besitzgeschichte des Fischbräu in Massing.” In doing so, she was able to gain skills such as time management and a finer legal vocabulary set, especially pertaining to Baravian/Southern Germanic-specific terms. This project focused on non-fiction/technical translating, which Ryan found useful for furthering her knowledge. She was also able to collaborate with her advisors as well as other German professors. Ryan hopes to be able to find full-time work as a translator, or at least be able to work on translating part-time.
Kaitlen Sawyer (BA, International Studies) followed a more traditional approach for her project, translating two short stories: “Casa Tomada” by Julio Cortázar in Spanish and a work by Lu Xun in Mandarin Chinese. She learned technical skills like producing drafts, meeting deadlines, and refining her translation methods. During this project, she began to see the process of translation in its more artistic form by recognizing the adaptability of it all depending on the translator as an individual and their experiences. She hopes to use these skills however she can in her future endeavors because of how much it has enriched her life and love of other cultures, languages, and texts.
Samantha Tosa (BS, International Studies and Spanish) worked on her capstone project in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which altered her original plans for the project. Samantha took the opportunity to learn about the rich history of interpreting, hear from the perspective of a medical interpreter, and take a 40-hour training course offered by the Interpreter Services Program at Michigan Medicine. She combined this research with her own personal interpretation experience to write a paper on the history of language interpretation and its various contexts.
Mikayla Easley (BA, Russian) completed a capstone project titled, “American Protests through the Russian Lens”. In this project she translated various accounts of Russian state-owned media of American events in order to uncover US-Russian cultural and media relationships, as well as highlight the importance of accurate and efficient news translators.
Stephanie Misevich (BA, German and International Studies) translated a collection of German letters written between three brothers and their family during the Second World War. She was challenged to translate each letter in a way that conveyed the original feeling, personality, and writing style of the individual letter-writers.
Griffin St. Onge (BA, Political Science and French) used her internship in Canada as a launching point for her capstone project. She analyzed communications from the Canadian government in French and English to see how language was used to convey meaning and accomplish governmental goals.
Katherine Thomas (BMus, Performance and BA, French) completed the Minor in Translation Studies with a capstone project translating the opening chapters of Ahmed Sefrioui’s novel The Box of Wonders from French into English.
Michael Ward (BA, Romance Languages & Literatures) interned at Lakeside Software where he translated user interface text of Lakeside software from English into French. His project, “The Ugly Duckling: In Defense of Technical Translation”, allowed him to explore translation in a professional setting and revealed the value and challenges of technical translation.
Anjali Alangaden (BA, Linguistics) dedicated her capstone project to an exploration of translation across campus at the University of Michigan. She worked as an undergraduate intern for Absinthe: World Literature in Translation and also conducted a series of interviews with people engaging translation in many contexts: translating literature, translating historical and legal documents, translating for social justice, and medical interpreting. Her interviews appear in the Translation@Michigan blog and Anjali herself was featured in the May 2018 issue of LSA Magazine, in an article entitled “Finding the Words.”
Marine Barjol (BA, Political Science) developed a capstone project out of her internship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where she worked with a visiting fellow to translate his book about the Syrian conflict. Translating from French into English, she had a chance to work directly with the author to clarify questions for American readers. As an international student, she found that minoring in Translation Studies helped her become more comfortable in moving between languages. She hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree or Certificate in Translation in the future.
Jo Deng (BS, Computer Science) completed a capstone project called, “Translating Contemporary Chinese Hip Hop and Folk Music” in which she translated two contemporary Chinese songs into English. She translated each song into three versions: direct translation, lyrical translation, and musical translation – highlighting the way in which different modes of translation can affect the meaning of a single piece of writing. Jo continues to translate Chinese songs into English and share her translations with music fans online.
Jordan Hite (BA, Spanish) combined his love of film and Portuguese with the skills he learned while taking a subtitling class in São Paulo during study abroad to add English subtitles to the Brazilian film Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho. His work included transcribing the film and translating the dialog into English that accurately represented the film and spoken English while adhering to the standardized rules of subtitling. Jordan will teach English in the fall in Portugal and then do the same in São Paulo, Brazil. He also plans to work as a freelance translator in his spare time.
Quynh Kieu (BS, Neuroscience) drew on her native language and culture to create a capstone project entitled “Translating Vietnamese Women.” She contributed English translations to Women in War: Wartime Posters from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1955-1975, and was invited to participate in a panel discussion about this U-M special exhibit at Hatcher Graduate Library. In addition, Quynh translated a short story by Mai Thuy Tran, with a reflection on the role of women in Vietnam, her own role as a translator, and the expansion of her cultural knowledge through translation.
Olivia Alge (BS, Informatics) found a way to integrate her studies in computer science with her passion for language. Her capstone project was a paid internship through Lakeside Software Company, where she translated software strings from English to Spanish. As she developed skills in technical translation and technical writing in Spanish, she was able to apply what she had learned in her translation classes to her methods of translating. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Olivia also enjoyed participating in the annual U-M Translate-a-thon, and she plans to continue working on literary and technical translations while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Bioinformatics at Michigan.
Sara Cusack (BA, Asian Studies-Chinese and Cognitive Science-Language and Cognition; Minor in Community Action and Social Change) dedicated her capstone project to volunteering as a law clerk at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). She worked with Spanish and also with Chinese in translating client declarations and correspondence, and interpreting for client meetings. As she practiced literary, legal, and technical translation, her internship also provided a platform to engage with translation as civil service and social justice, and to reflect on the ethics of translation. Sara will continue this work as Engelhard Social Justice Fellow, supported by the U-M Center for Engaged Academic Learning.
Thomas Degroat (BS, Neuroscience) approached his capstone project as a translation between media. He adapted an excerpt from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, into a script designed as pilot episode for a television mini-series. Using concepts from translation theory to describe adaption from literary to film, he found new and exciting ways to think about his experience of translating. He expects that translation will become even more important as he continues, especially in the science field.
Haley Schafer (BA, French and International Studies) translated selected interviews from the movie HUMAN: Le Film, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. By transcribing audio into text, and translating from French into English, she was able to refine her listening language skills and to recreate compelling testimonies from around the world. Haley continues to work on translation projects through the Virtual Student Foreign Service, and is interested in becoming a professional translator.
Tasneem Abu-Zahra (BS, Evolutionary Anthropology) worked with the Language Bank at the Language Resource Center on campus for a capstone project dedicated to projects for Arabic-speaking communities in Michigan. Some of the projects she took on included translating into Arabic a seventeen-page Public Involvement Handbook from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and translating into English sections of an Arabic high-school textbook for refugees, through the Syrian American Rescue Network (SARN)of Michigan. She hopes to integrate translation into her medical school education.
Jacqueline Alvarez (BA, Spanish) translated And Still I Rise, a collection of poems by Maya Angelou, from English into Spanish. This project helped her to look beyond monolingualism, and to value what may be lost or gained in translation.
Rachel Braum (BA, Spanish, International Studies) tackled the first ten chapters of Lola Beccaria’s novel Zero for her capstone project. Participating in the minor allowed her to explore Beccaria’s Galician-inflected Castilian prose while also getting a better sense of what working as a freelance translator might be like–deadlines and rewrites included.
Rachel hopes to continue her linguistic work as either a translator or interpreter.
Megan Buckner (BA, Asian Languages and Cultures) drew on her expertise in Japanese manga (a genre similar to graphic novels) to complete a translation of Tokyo Ghoul for her capstone project. While pursuing the Minor, Megan came to better articulate her complex methodology and completed the book-length project, which will figure as an important part of her repertoire as she pursues translation professionally after graduation.
Hector “Flores” Komatsu (BA, Theater) worked with acclaimed director Peter Brook to bring to the stage a Spanish version of The Valley of Astonishment (by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne). As the designer and translator of the play’s surtitles, Flores had the chance to revisit and revise his translation as he traveled with this production throughout Mexico and Spain. Flores’ project brings out the many nuances of translation as performance, a creative task that will no doubt occupy his time if the play is again put on in Hispanophone countries.
Omar Syed Mahmood (BA, BS, Comparative Literature, Evolutionary Anthropology) undertook a translation of the Quranic chapter of Joseph into English. Omar’s translation moves past the clunky Latinate phrasing that so characterizes past versions of the Quran, highlighting instead a language that is fluent but that also “maintains a certain grandeur appropriate for holy books.” Omar plans to complete translations of the Quran into both English and Spanish.
Todd Maslyk (BA, BSE, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Chemical Engineering) performed a complete translation of Heinrich Von Kleist’s novella “Die Marquise von O.” for his capstone project. Todd found himself immersed in late eighteenth-century reference guides and language textbooks in order to animate his translation with an English idiom contemporary to Kleist. His project helped him not only to get a better feel for earlier German texts, but also to gain a certain fluency in the theoretical concerns of the field.
Sam Spraker (BA, Asian Languages and Cultures) explored the intersection of late nineteenth-century art production in Paris and Japan for her capstone project. In addition to an analysis of the artworks produced during this period–a moment dominated by Impressionism–she attended to the cultural translation occasioned by the circulation of art between the two nations. Sam will pursue translation as both a linguistic and medial project as she continues her studies.
Oriol Burgos-Tsoffar (BA, Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures) quickly fell in love with the work of Juan José Millás, who is known in Spain as “the master of short distance.” For his capstone project, Oriol set out to translate the short story collection The Objects that Call Us for publication. He will continue to pursue his creative work in San Francisco.
Robin Carey (BA, German, Political Science) completed his capstone project with a semester-long editorial internship. He was selected by the Department of Comparative Literature to work for Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation. Robin worked with senior editors to prepare a special issue dedicated to the theme “Precarious Europe,” while also attending to the less glamorous aspect of publishing, including marketing and sales. Robin will put his skills to good use after graduation as a freelance translator.
Rachel Daniels (BA, English) chose to assemble a portfolio of speculative fiction from French for her capstone project. Throughout the duration of the Minor, Rachel selected, researched, and translated texts (with accompanying online commentary) originally published on Oniris, an interactive online forum for genre writers in French. For the moment, Rachel will continue to translate casually, although she hopes to take it up more formally if she joins the publishing industry.
John Foster (BA, Comparative Literature, French) took to the “Translation at Michigan” blog for his capstone project. Over a series of seven posts, John explored topics of both cultural (nation-based translation grants and promotion) and linguistic (homophonic translation) concern. Writing in blog form encouraged Jack to rethink translation outside of the more formal frame he pursued in his honors thesis on Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator.” Jack also served as co-editor for the latest issue of the department’s undergraduate journal, Canon Translation Review.
Ana Guay (BA, Classical Studies) drew on her background in literary criticism and translation to complete her rigorous capstone project, titled “A Voice Not to Be Broken: Translating the poetic catalogue in and after Homer.” Ana was awarded the prestigious Gates scholarship to study Classics at Cambridge University in 2015. She intends to pursue Translation Studies as a complementary field in her graduate work.
Evan Hoye (BA, German, International Studies) analyzed the intricacies of visual and linguistic translation for his capstone project on the German-language version of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. In his research, Evan confronted the multifold
ideological and creative aspects that factor into translating highly popular and recognizable works into new cultural settings. Evan reported that he foresees translation being an essential part of his career goals.
Zee Oluwaremi (BA, International Studies) received a crash course in translating journalism for his capstone project on politics and culture in global sports. He undertook the project as part of the LSA Theme Semester on “Sports.” Working from Spanish, Zee translated articles across the globe to examine the intersections between economics, social policy, and athletics. In the introduction to his translation portfolio, Zee explores the challenge of balancing both storytelling and fact-based reportage. Zee will continue to hone his skills as a freelance translator.
Abigail Schultz (BA, English) completed her capstone project with a semester-long editorial internship. She was selected by the Department of Comparative Literature to work for Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation. Emily Goedde, guest editor of the 22nd issue titled “Pen and Brush,” invited Abigail not only to edit, but also to draw up the publication’s potential table of contents. Abigail now attends Michigan State University’s Hospitality Business Management program, and will put to good work the critical skills she learned while undertaking the Minor in Translation in future projects.
Kyra Hauck (BA, French) completed her capstone project through an internship with Freedom House Detroit. Having already established a relationship with the non-profit organization earlier in her academic career, Kyra decided to translate a series of legal documents and testimonies from French into English in order to assist asylum seekers during their court proceedings. Although Kyra could not make her work public due to its highly-sensitive nature, she drew on her emotionally charged experiences to choreograph and to perform a multi-media piece, titled “Testimony,” at the end of the semester.