Faculty Seminar on Critical Issues in the Translation Classroom

Academic Year: 
2011 - 2012 (June 1, 2011 through May 30, 2012)
Funding Requested: 
Project Dates: 
Thu, 03/01/2012 - Thu, 02/28/2013
Christi Merrill
Overview of the Project: 
Christi Merrill from the Department of Comparative Literature led a collaborative seminar of 11 UM faculty, 9 of whom taught a translation course in conjunction with the Fall 2012 LSA Theme Semester on Translation (http://www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/theme/upcoming) and expressed interest building a vibrant interdisciplinary undergraduate program in translation. Seminar participants were chosen in university-wide competition; they were asked to meet regularly over the course of the theme semester and to contribute to an online toolkit of materials to be used in the translation classroom. Whitaker funds were used to award research funds of $1000 to each seminar participant.
Final Report
Project Objectives: 
The immediate goal of the seminar was to compile an online kit of resources of immediate use to instructors in the translation classroom, and to offer peer support for instructors teaching theme semester courses in Fall 2012. Both of these goals were met. In the long term the Department of Comparative Literature sought to build a core group of faculty from a range of units across campus who would regularly offer courses with a translation component that might be included in the undergraduate minor in translation, and whose expertise could be called upon to formulate an interdisciplinary curriculum that offers both range and coherence. That goal, too, was met. Happily, we made alliances with colleagues in a range of departments we might not have known otherwise.
Project Achievements: 
The successful applicants were expected to meet once as a group in early spring 2012 to define the general issues that have arisen in their course planning, and that meeting was extremely lively and many said inspiring. We met again in late August for a 3-day intensive series of sessions in which they:
1) vetted a selection of theoretical articles for their relevance to the particular concerns of the group (these were posted on an online site everyone had access to), 2) identified critical issues specific to the teaching of translation at Michigan, and
3) discussed drafts of syllabi and sample assignments in a workshop setting. This intensive workshop was even more successful than the spring meeting, and inspired group members to meet again over the course of the semester. We had organized two dinner meetings to coincide with out-of-town speakers coming through the Translation Theme Semester, and those were not as well attended as we had hoped, unfortunately. Happily, however, several of the seminar participants became quite interested in the translation applications we were developing through a separate but related NINI grant, and continued to be involved in the development after the period of the Whitaker grant ended.
Yes, the project of creating an online toolkit initially proposed here has morphed into a much more ambitious project inviting faculty and students to comment on translation-related objects in the various collections on campus, and their relevance to each other. We are developing it through MCubed funding, as part of the project “Building Translation Networks at Michigan.” In addition, several of the faculty became interested in another game application we were in development with that semester, That Translation Game! (See the article “Homer Meets Hip Hop” that appeared in the online LSA Today for an introduction.) We are hoping to get faculty to commit more time to the development of both of these apps, through a focus group arranged specifically for faculty interested in piloting either or both of these applications in a class during the 2014-15 school year.
Besides the word-of-mouth discussion spawned in several units across campus (for example, several language lecturers are interested in organizing upper-level language classes aimed to pass the PEN Certificate in Translation after this was piloted by Andrew Mills in German), we eventually plan to make the aggregator tool for translation materials available to the entire UM community.