Category Archives: Recent Research

Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (3)

by Santiago Barcaza S., MFA Student, Creative Writing in Spanish

When the Nobel Prize was given to Beckett, the Swedish Academy considered the set of his texts in English and French as a single work and at the award ceremony, its dedication to “one man, two languages ​​and a third nation” [ Ireland].”

Beckett is the self-translator who has received more attention and more studies have been done since he was the first to arouse interest in self-translation as a subject of study (Cohn, 1961). The anecdote is the following: the impossibility of finding an English publisher for his texts, considered at the time as untranslatable, caused the author to translate into French his work Murphy, written in English and published in 1938. From 1946, Beckett writes only in French, something that is quite difficult for him, and he translates himself into English. The recognition comes in 1953, the year of the appearance of En attendant Godot and Trilogie. The self-translation into English of the first, Waiting for Godot, appears a year later, in 1954, when it is reconciled with the English language. From that moment on, he continues writing in both languages ​​and exchanging the directions of the self-translation.

By the way. To the question; why self-translate? It is not difficult to understand the eagerness of authors like Tagore or Beckett to reach more readers, to ambition as soon as possible a place in the history of universal literature. But there is also another literature. There is a literature that comes from the bosom of cultures that resist extinction, languages ​​that do not give ground to the languages ​​of the colonizers.

odi gonzales
The poet Odi Gonzales

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Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (2)

by Santiago Barcaza S., MFA Student, Creative Writing in Spanish

Without wanting to dwell too much on certain aspects proposed by academia, I am surprised that there are two currents of thought: one that regards self-translation as an unusual phenomenon, a marginal activity and another one that supports the opposite. I will not use this space to delve into one or the other. I agree with the outstanding researcher of translation studies Julio César Santoyo, when he says:

Seen the seen, one can not help but wonder: can we continue talking about the self-translation as a phenomenon ‘rather weird’ or ´exceptional´? We are not faced with rare exceptions but before an immense corpus, increasingly of texts translated by their own creators. Far from being a ‘marginal case’, the author’s translation has a long history and is today one of the most frequent and important cultural, linguistic and literary phenomena in our global village, and certainly deserves much more attention from which has been borrowed so far“.

In fact, the first known self-translator is the jewish historian Flavius ​​Josephus, who in 75 AD wrote in Aramaic, his mother tongue, the seven books of his first work, The War of the Jews, to later revise it and translate it to the Greek. From then until today, self-translation is a common practice. They form a group so broad and so diverse that it is impossible to list them all. However, as a sample, I quote a short selection: Fray Luis de León, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Stéphane Mallarmé, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, Vladimir Nabokov, José María Arguedas, Milan Kundera, et cetera. However, addressing the self-translation in one of these authors runs the risk of falling into exceptional particularities and the preparation of a rather monographic study. Nobody doubts the fact that these authors are interesting, but that some are paradigmatic, as to help understand or illuminate the act of self-translation – for example, of poets of indigenous origin in southern America- is perhaps another issue. So, I wonder what is really the self-translation? Why? And for what?

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The Heart of the Andes, Landscape and Art in Bogotá Before and After Alexander von Humboldt

Posted by Natalia Aguilar Vasquez – PhD Student at NYU Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature

Aguilar Vasquez_Colombia_WorkshopFLORA

Art gallery and cultural space FLORA ars+natura in Bogota, Colombia. First day of the curatorial workshop by Miguel A. Lopez, July 30th 2018.

My research interests were, initially, the intersections between contemporary art and recent literature in Colombia, specially focused on ways of representing violence, memory, and trauma in the Colombian society and the bodies. That research shifted, and instead of dealing only with bodies and Biopolitics as critical lenses to understand such aesthetics, I noticed a “return” or, as many would say, an always latent concern with “the land”, the politics of creating landscapes and, most importantly, the spatial dimension of the Colombian internal war and conflict.

I started a journey visiting art galleries in Bogotá, new spaces for art and culture in the city. The “return” and reincorporation of landscape was visible in several exhibitions coming from young artists, but also in the creation of new spaces for culture in the city. Hybrid locations, a mix of gallery, research centers, and incubators for artistic projects. The question of physical boundaries, personal and public/political space, as well as the ambivalent relation between the urban and the rural, are crucial to imagine and live, in the so-called “post-conflict” Colombia.

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Sergio Mondragón and Collaborative Translation

Koss - Mexico - Mondragon

Zane Koss and Sergio Mondragón on June 11, 2018.

 

Posted by Zane Koss – PhD Candidate in English Literature at NYU

On June 11th, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sergio Mondragón in the Coyoacán neighbourhood of Mexico City. My dissertation focuses on Mexican and Canadian poetry in the 1960s and 1970s, searching for meaningful connections between poets and means of reading comparatively that are able to situate these poets both within their own complex national contexts and within broader transnational poetic movements. From 1962 to 1969, Mondragón co-edited and co-published El corno emplumado / The Plumed Horn, a bilingual magazine of poetry and the arts in Mexico City with Margaret Randall, a young poet who had recently arrived in Mexico from New York. The magazine was a flashpoint of transnational literary and cultural exchange, publishing young and established poets from across the Americas, translated into both Spanish and English whenever possible. Our conversation that day covered a wide array of subjects, but – as the sprightly 82-year-old warned me beforehand – his memories of the 1960s were “borrosos o entremezclados.”

The day after our meeting, I received an unexpected phone call from Sergio. At his request, I had sent him a couple of my own poems, and he wanted to return his compliments by inviting me for a meal at his home in the hills west of Coyoacán and San Ángel. When I had asked Sergio about the work he performed translating the Canadian poet George Bowering’s 1964 book of poems, The Man in the Yellow Boots / El hombre de las botas amarillas – published as the sixteenth issue of El corno – he had quickly pointed out that Margaret Randall, who edited magazine’s English-language portions, had likely done most of the work in selecting poems and corresponding with Bowering. He insisted further that she had probably helped extensively with the translations. I failed to register the full importance of this comment at the time, considering it more of a polite nudge from Sergio to redirect my inquiries to Randall. But visiting Sergio in his home revealed the deeper truth of his statement.

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Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (1)

by Santiago Barcaza S., MFA Student, Creative Writing in Spanish

A map is a graphic and metric representation of a portion of territory. This means that, created with the purpose of knowing and showing the world to others, maps constitute a sort of translation that, not only do we see or read, but that we live to comprehend the territory that we inhabit.

In Latinamerica and in Chile in particular, map and territory, look like two concepts dissuaded and confronted for centuries, not only by authorities in place, but also by an important part of the civil society in what refers to (1) accept and include the indigenous communities that inhabit their same territory, and (2) understand and value their “maps” and all the effort they make to translate the transcendental attributes of their culture, their very life. In other words, the defense or recovery of lands, involves, for the indigenous communities, not only a matter of economic survival, but it also connects with the dream of revitalizing their culture.

In this essay -and in the successive ones that I will publish in this blog- I will deepen on the political and sociological role that indigenous movements and communities in Chile give to literature, which is generated mainly by bicultural and bilingual creators, who seek through their creations -translated by themselves to Spanish- to put in doubt the dominant / subordinate binarism; and on the other hand, I will try to explain how, through literature, it is possible to create a strategy that allows creators of indigenous origin to reverse the reduction of their cultures, languages and policies.

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Challenges of linguistic data collection in Uruguay

Posted by Madeline Gilbert – PhD student in Linguistics at NYU

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Tile street art in Rivera (yes, this is right-side up!)

I have now been in Uruguay for a bit over a month.  On one hand, it feels like I’ve accomplished quite a bit; on the other hand, there is a lifetime of research to be done here.  In the last blog post I talked a bit about the project itself, which involves looking at the language contact situation on the border between Uruguay and Brazil, site of the famous portuñol, which, in the popular conception, is neither Spanish nor Portuguese but a broken mixture of the two.  In this post, I want to talk a bit about the process of data collection, which is both full of challenges and very rewarding.

First: what kind of data am I collecting?  Because I’m interested in peoples’ use of language in daily life, I’m conducting (and recording) sociolinguistic interviews, asking people to read a word list, and fill out some demographic and language use questionnaires.  The process typically takes about 90 minutes.  Sociolinguistic interviews consist of talking with people about topics like childhood, family, school, hobbies, work, travels, and the like.  The goal is to elicit the most natural speech possible within the context of a recorded conversation.  The word list reflects a more careful speech style and was designed around some linguistic variables. I have reason to think might be interesting to compare between speakers from Rivera and Montevideo.  The demographic forms ask more explicitly about peoples’ linguistic history, places of residence, use of Spanish/Portuguese/other languages, and a little about their attitudes towards these languages.

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Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms

Martinez, Chile, Santiago Figueroa

Santiago Figueroa. Folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music.

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

Shortly after arriving in Chile, I went to the public library of Doñihue in order to search for bibliographic material and, fortunately, there I met Santiago Figueroa Torres; a folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music. Talking informally while drinking coffee, I explained to him my thoughts about this investigation and he gave me his vision as an expert on the subject. Consequently, aided by this chance, his insights have served me as a guide for reading the bibliographic material found and redefining my research question.

What similarities exist between the Cantus to the divine cultivated in Chile and the Christian psalms in the Latin American version of the Catholic Bible? This is the question the present research will try to answer. For this purpose, in addition to ponder on some similarities, I will analyze and contrast two songs by the Chilean musician Violeta Parra (Maldigo del alto cielo and Volver a los 17) with the psalms 143 and 148.

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