About this Conference and Conversation

We kicked off the Translating the Future conference and conversation series 50 years to the date from the World of Translation conference with "From 1970 to 2020: Translation Transformations," a conversation with translators David Bellos and Karen Emmerich, which included snippets from the original audio archive of the World of Translation conference. The conversation was hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell. Watch the video of the conversation below:



The conference, co-sponsored by PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center CUNY, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, commemorates and carries forward PEN's 1970 World of Translation conference, convened by Gregory Rabassa and Robert Payne, and featuring Muriel Rukeyser, Irving Howe, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and many others. It billed itself as "the first international literary translation conference in the United States" and had a major impact on US literary culture. 

Visit Translating The Future page here for the complete conference Program, video recordings of previous events in this series, as well as archival audio recordings, articles, the original program, and more history from PEN's 1970 World of Translation conference.


Speaker Bios:


David Bellos studied Modern Languages at Oxford and taught French in the UK before moving to Princeton in 1997, where he served as Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication for more than ten years. He stumbled into a second career as a translator when he became enthralled by Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual. He has translated roughly a book a year ever since, in fields ranging from popular fiction to the history of anti-Semitism, and from the history of counting systems to masterpieces of modern Albanian literature. His teaching, experience and frustration with the state of translation studies led him to write Is That a Fish in Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation, which has itself been translated into French, German, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.


Karen Emmerich is a translator of modern Greek literature and a professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, where she also directs the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication. Her translation awards include the National Translation Award in 2019 for Ersi Sotiropoulos's What's Left of the Night (New Vessel)the Best Translated Book Award in 2017 for Eleni Vakalo's Beyond Lyricism (UDP), and the PEN Poetry in Translation Award in 2014 for Yannis Ritsos's Diaries of Exile (Archipelago).


This conference and conversation series is co-sponsored by PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.

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