Short Course Description
Translation: "The action or process of translating a word, a work, etc., from one language into another" (OED). This is the first of some twenty senses in which the word is or has been used, many of which entered the English language at the close of the fourteenth century just as Geoffrey Chaucer was busy writing The Canterbury Tales. For this poet and his contemporaries, translation was related to transfer and transformation. It therefore applied not only to words or texts but also to people, objects, ideas, poetic forms, political structures, and centers of learning.
Full syllabus will be available to registered students only
This two-part course has a double purpose. On the one hand, it seeks to define the crucial role that translation plays in the production of medieval literature. On the other, it aims to explore some of the ways in which this literary tradition is subsequently translated into new contexts, from the early modern stage to postmodern television.
Part I will focus on two tales by Chaucer: the Clerk's and the Knight's. Both emulate the Italian sources they translate, only to be parodied by their companion tales. The former also features a heroine who becomes the object of multiple acts of translation. The latter, which takes place in ancient Greece, will introduce us to the central concern of Part II of the course: medieval Christianity's translation of the classical heritage. When exploring the reception of these tales, we shall look at works by Shakespeare, Dryden, Caryl Churchill, and others.
From Chaucer and Co. we move on to Dante's Comedy, an important source of influence for English-speaking authors as well as the first medieval work whose author set out to become a classic. Achieving this goal entailed becoming a consummate translator: both of the mystical realities of the afterlife and of the poetic traditions of classical antiquity. Our reading of Dante will be accompanied by selections from two Latin epics: Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Students who complete the requirements of this course will become conversant in a body of works through which to think about the theory and practice of translation not only in the Middle Ages but also in the present. In addition, it will prepare you for taking one of Dr. Stavsky's Chaucer seminars.
READING MATERIAL: All required texts and other media will be made available on the course Moodle. Chaucer's works will be read and taught in Middle English using a student-friendly edition.
EVALUATION: (1) full attendance and active participation, with a maximum of four absences for whatever reason (10%); (2) a midterm take-home exam of 24 hours on Part I of the course (45%); a final paper on Part II (45%). Some lessons may be taught asynchronously. In this case, a group report will replace attendance in the classroom. Students must attend the required number of lessons, submit the midterm exam and final paper by the deadline set on Moodle, and get a passing grade for both in order to pass the course.
COURSE POLICIES IN BRIEF: This course requires full attendance in all lessons (including any make-up classes) from the first day of the semester regardless of the method of instruction used to teach them. All Health Ministry guidelines must be followed; teaching cannot proceed unless all students comply with them. As long as classes are held on campus, the lessons will not be broadcast on Zoom. Should instruction shift online, you will have to arrange to spend the entire duration of the lesson in a quiet, distraction-free space with your camera switched on and your face clearly visible while refraining from all non-course-related activities in order to be counted as present. Please inform the lecturer in advance should you require any special accommodations and make every effort to obtain official recognition of your needs by the Dean of Students Office before the course begins.