COMP 345
Wonderland(s): Alice in Translation Spring 2020
Division I
Cross-listed ENGL 365 / COMP 345 / GBST 345
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details


“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar, sternly. “Explain yourself!” “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see?”
The confusion around personal identity, which Alice is seen to experience as she makes her way through Wonderland, can be examined productively as an allegory of translation. Beyond the developmental and socio-cultural transitions of a child, what happens to Alice, a seminal text in children’s literature, when it travels down the rabbit hole to a new linguistic wonderland? For starters, the seven-year-old girl becomes Marie in Danish, Arihi in Maori, Ai-chan in Japanese, and Paapachchi in Kannada. Then there is the highly idiosyncratic humor, word play, embedded English nursery rhymes, and iconic illustrations by Tenniel. How do they fare in new linguistic, cultural, and even genre contexts? Lewis Carroll told his publisher in 1866: “Friends here seem to think the book is untranslatable.” And yet. Over 200 translations later, including Kazakh, Shona, Papiamento, Braille, and Emoji, Alice continues to delight children and adults all over the world and to pose myriad challenges as well as opportunities for translators. This course will serve as an introduction to the theory and practice of translation using Carroll’s Alice as an anchoring primary text. We will examine key disciplinary issues and concepts, such as equivalence, rewriting, faithfulness, and ethics, and challenge the old canard that translation leads ineluctably, and exclusively, to loss.
The Class: Format: seminar; some Friday workshops
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3081
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active and substantive class participation; leading discussion; frequent short writing assignments; final project
Prerequisites: students must have at least three years of college-level second-language instruction, or the equivalent (advanced proficiency), or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: COMP majors; language majors; language students
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 365 Division I COMP 345 Division I GBST 345 Division I

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