A draft post

These are my scrambled notes, that I will turn into a lecture.

Do you agree with Don Quixote in the quotation below? Is a translation always an impoverishment of the original? Is the practice of translation anything beyond a mechanical exercise?

Pero, con todo esto, me parece que el traducir de una lengua en otra, como no sea de las reinas de las lenguas, griega y latina, es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el revés, que aunque se veen las figuras, son llenas de hilos que las escurecen y no se veen con la lisura y tez de la haz; y el traducir de lenguas fáciles ni arguye ingenio ni elocución, como no le arguye el que traslada ni el que copia un papel de otro papel.” –Don Quixote en M. de Cervantes, Don Quixote II: LXII, “Que trata de la aventura de la cabeza encantada, con otras niñerías que no pueden dejar de contarse.”

What is translation? What does it involve?
What kinds of information do translations impart, and what do they distort or obscure? How and why do we make choices in the practice of translation? How do the contexts and goals of a particular translation project influence these choices? What balances between fidelity to the original and idiomatic use of the target language should one strike? Why is translation an act of interpretation? What roles does translation have in literary, linguistic and cultural studies? What is translation as a professional or technical field? What is the emerging academic field Translation Studies? >- Literary and philological perspectives on translation: translation as textual study and interpretation
– Translation, metaphor and the nature of language
– Translation and the encounter with otherness or difference

– Should translation “tame the wild tongue” (Anzaldúa), domesticate the text of the Other, or not? (perspectives from Walter Benjamin)

c/ What can translation do? What can it not do?

1. Translation as a mere technical or secretarial problem – does that perspective take into account the actual nature of language and of texts? El desprestigio de la traducción

2. Translation as interpretive activity, and as craft or art. Is translation an exact science? Or, does it raise scientific questions?

3. The role of research in translation – the question of context, embeddedness of texts in these

4. Translation, colonization, globalization; dominant and “minor” languages: translation is political

5. Translation, language, linguistics —

Meschonnic: “Par la théorie des textes qu’elle implique, la poétique de la traduction ne peut pas être une linguistique appliquée [– c’est une] poétique experimentale” (1972)

6. Writers and theorists who say surprising things, perhaps:

a. Benjamin: otherness / traces of the original in the translation

b. Borges (versiones homéricas): translation as non-secondary, as a an attribute of textuality

c. Steiner: all communication involves translation, so translation is a primary and not a secondary activity

d. Cervantes: translation is an ever-present problem


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Ideas across borders

The “transnational turn” in U.S. historiography has made scholars aware of the interdependence of U.S. history on the history of the rest of the world. It has had a particularly significant impact on intellectual and cultural history, which is now written with an eye towards international currents and contexts. This graduate readings class will present several significant examples of works that use transnational projects—some set in the borderlands, some not—to generate new insight into the history of the United States. We will use their examples to think through how borderlands history anticipates and can take advantage of the transnational turn.

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The computer file problem

I have 30 years worth of computer files. Most, except those very most recently worked on, are backed up in Dropbox and on a flash drive or four. They are very disorganized — there are folders within folders and it is terrible. I need to sit down and go through all of these, put them in a more working order, and do it in such a way as I back up what I am working on more systematically, but I am not sure where to begin. I have very few files on my office computer and have thought of erasing these, then starting to build a file system on it from scratch, then putting this in Dropbox, but even so it is not clear to me how to start, that is to say, what architectural concept to go on. The current one is basically Computer 1, 2, 3, and so on … except that files from these overlap so I cannot reliably go by year even if I wanted to. I practically think I need an archivist, but what do you do?

A. You can just search for stuff in Dropbox though, so no need to organize things.

A. Get some freeware to delete doubles. Perhaps begin by sorting by file type and date: “word-2015” and so on. Also use global search programs that make “finding” more or less irrelevant.

A. If you download an duplicate finder like Duplicate Detective, you can run it and it will tell you how many files you have, how many duplicates there are and where they are located etc, etc., without deleting/merging anything. There are settings that provide you with a list of duplicates and then let you delete each file manually if you want. Also, when you learn how many files you’ve got on your machine, you might change your mind about doing everything manually. When I first ran Duplicate Detective, I learned I had tens of thousands of files, waaaayyyy too many to sort by hand. So I just backed everything up well in two places and then merged everything automatically and I haven’t had any problems yet. It freed up a ton of space for me very quickly.

 I also love this thing: Disk Inventory X

Disk Inventory X, disk usage utility for Mac OS X from derlien.com

A. Take some time and read David Spark’s e-book, Paperless. Among other things, it goes over how to structure a paperless life with hardware, software, apps, and wetware (your brain). He’s mac-based, but many of his suggestions are platform agnostic. There’s also several sites that are specifically geared to helping academics, like Macademic, think through those who have research, writing, and teaching needs.

You’ll have to put in some time developing a larger system that makes sense. For example, for my oldest archives I use year-month but anything from 2000 onward that I’m scanning and archiving uses year-month-date; this sorts all files in chronological order. Dates are always date created. I have several categories for research, so this is similar to tagging, but I have broad categories for files. I use a particular strategy for correspondence: Pea–> Person or Person–>Pea. I also organize into folders because I was good at doing this with physical files, but it doesn’t matter as much when you can search for files across all folders.

I use a combination of filing software (Hazel), apple macros, and text expander software so I don’t have to type everything out. I manage research in bibliographic software.

It’s important to work this out an create a map to guide me—mine is color coded and big and on the wall near my desk. Whatever Hazel doesn’t clean up for me gets put in a folder TO BE FILED on my desktop. Every few weeks I tackle this (and scan any hard copies) and use my map to do my best. By having & using the map, at least I know I should use/used one of the terms there when I start my search for a file.

My dropbox mirrors my hard drive filing system; that makes it easier when I share folders with colleagues and clients, too.



I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest Video Field Guide. This one is all about Hazel. For years,…
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A teaching post

I am ignoring this blog and should come back and clear it up and modernize and use it, or perhaps consolidate it elsewhere.

But here is a teaching post.

I have stopped giving the introduction to literature as I used to do, and the survey is not working as it used to do. I think I will use the survey to teach the technical things I used to teach in the introduction to literature.

There are all sorts of good reasons to do this given the current state of things, and I am happy with the idea.

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Files that are leaving me

Our library actually has a copy of Flores’ Aproximaciones … a Vallejo and it actually stays on the shelves, so I can actually afford to recycle my old xerox of this.

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La idea de América Latina

q. I am looking for new readings about the concept of Latin America. In the past I have used Mignolo’s The Idea of Latin America and Laurence Whitehead’s Latin America: A New Interpretation with good results, but I would just want to have a couple of articles or chapters so I do not have to spend so much time on the topic.

a. A solid historical analysis of the rise of the term and the concept: Michel Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race,” American Historical Review 118:5 (Dec. 2013), 1345-75

a. Nuestra América Latina: De la resistencia a independencia. Del Caribe al Río de La Plata. El populismo, la razón política latinoamericana. Gladis María Balbi, Alejandro Jorge Richardet. Editorial Académica Española, 2012. “En la gesta independentista iniciada en el Caribe y América del Sur en la primeras décadas del siglo XIX, los autores reivindican el doble proceso de independencia de los pueblos y de autoafirmación identitaria del nuevo sujeto político en construcción, surgido de la incorporación masiva de los gauchos, pueblos amerindios y afrodescendientes, junto a sus mujeres, a las luchas políticas y sociales, marcando una originalidad en los modos de organización e institucionalización, distintos de los modelos políticos de los centros europeos y más allá de los alcances de la revolución norteamericana (1776) y francesa (1792). Se destacan los olvidados y las negadas, desfilan hombres y mujeres de las etnias originarias en simultáneo con hombres y mujeres allende los mares, europeos/as de la ilustración. Las revoluciones realizan un recorrido ida y vuelta del Caribe al Río de La Plata, Haití, Venezuela y Los Pueblos Libres marcan el ingreso de “los de abajo”, en la historia, guiados/as por emblemáticos líderazgos De L´Ouverture a Moreno y Artigas, de Bartolina Sisa a Anita Garibaldi y Flora Tristán, muestran el populismo, como la expresión fundacional de la razón política latinoamericana.”

a. Arturo Ardao’s La idea y el nombre de América Latina is very comprehensive, but is not available in English, as far as I know.

a. Robert Patrick Newcomb has a kind of literature review on the concept of Latin America (Chevalier, Ardao, Martí, Mignolo, etc.) in a section of his book.

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Uses of prosody

This series of posts is very interesting for teaching — and more.

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