- B.A., French and Russian, University College, Oxford, 1982
- M.A., Applied Linguistics, Durham University, 1987
- Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, 1995
Professor, Comparative Literature
Professor, Comparative Literature
My passion is literary translation. When I’m not translating from Polish or French, I read extensively in international literature. I’ve long been involved in ALTA, the American Literary Translators Association, serving several times as a mentor in ALTA’s mentorship program. I’ve also twice served on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Translators Conference in Vermont.
In Comparative Literature, at the graduate level I teach workshops in literary translation. What I most enjoy is getting to grips with the translation of specific texts, and so a large part of our classes involves workshopping translations from a wide range of languages into English. We also spend time comparing often radically different translations of major works of literature and discussing the consequences of different approaches to the task of translation. It quickly becomes apparent that there’s no such thing as a “perfect translation,” and that the translator’s work is creative in a very profound way—however “faithful” a translation may be, it still involves the production of a new and different work of literature.
As a translator I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity of translating works from many different periods and genres. This has included recent prose by authors such asWiesław Myśliwski, Magdalena Tulli, Andrzej Stasiuk, and Jerzy Pilch; contemporary poetry by Tadeusz Różewicz, Julia Fiedorczuk, Tomasz Różycki, and Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki; earlier 20th-century authors such as Witold Gombrowicz; and “classics” by Adam Mickiewicz, Stefan Żeromski, Jan Kochanowski, and Juliusz Słowacki. In recent years I’ve begun working from the French, and have translated works by contemporary novelists Alain Mabanckou, Jeanne Benameur, and In Koli Jean Bofane, as well as 20th century giants Jean Giono and Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz. I encourage students to cast their net broadly also, and in class we work on prose, poetry, and drama. It’s a constant joy to see students publishing their own translations and presenting their work at conferences.
I very much enjoy my undergraduate teaching, too. At the undergraduate level I offer several courses. C322 “How to Write a Photograph” looks at photography and its relationship to writing. C160 “What’s Good about ‘Good Books’ and ‘Good Movies’?” examines the moral dimensions of creative expression and asks why there is so much suffering and cruelty in the “great works” of literature and cinema. Mostly recently, I’ve taught C205: Introduction to Comparative Literary Analysis under the title “Stop Making Sense.” In this course we examine mad characters, mad narrators, and mad stories in literature and film. I find that students learn best through opportunities for discussion and through active tasks; I try to incorporate these as much as possible throughout my classes.
Wiesław Myśliwski: The Needle’s Eye. New York: Archipelago Books. In progress.
Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz : Fear on the Mountain. New York: Archipelago Books. In press.
In Koli Jean Bofane: Casablanca Story. Bloomington, IN : Indiana University Press. In press.
Jean Giono: Ennemonde. New York: Archipelago Books. 2021.
Jeanne Benameur: The Child Who. Houston: Calypso Editions. 2020.
Adam Mickiewicz: Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania. New York: Archipelago Books. 2018. (Winner of 2019 National Translation Award in Poetry and the AATSEEL Award for Best Literary Translation into English, 2020)
Julia Fiedorczuk: Oxygen. Brookline, MA; Zephyr Books. 2017. (Longlisted for the National Translation Award, Poetry)
Tomasz Różycki: Twelve Stations. Brookline, MA: Zephyr Books. 2015. (Winner of the 2016 Found in Translation Award)
Magdalena Tulli: In Red. New York: Archipelago Books. 2011. (Shortlisted for Best Translated Book Award 2012: Fiction)
Andrzej Stasiuk: Dukla. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive. 2011.
Stanisław Lem: Solaris. Newark, NJ: Audible. 2011. (Audio book)
Wiesław Myśliwski: Stone Upon Stone. New York: Archipelago Books. 2010. (Winner of the Best Translated Book Award 2012: Fiction, the PEN Translation Prize 2012, and the the AATSEEL Award for Best Literary Translation into English, 2012)
2020: National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship, for a translation of Parts I and II of Nights and Days by Maria Dąbrowska.
2014: Transatlantyk Prize for the promotion of Polish literature abroad.
2013 - 2014: Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, for a translation of Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz.
2013: Lannan Foundation Residency, Marfa, TX.
2012: Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland.
2005: National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, for a translation of The Coming Spring by Stefan Żeromski.