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University News Release

March 24, 2006

Graduate Student Translation Colloquium And Carnival Starts March 31

The University of Iowa International Programs and Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature will present the University of Iowa Graduate Student Translation Colloquium and Carnival Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2, on the UI campus.

The program will feature several events that are free and open to the public, including a poetry reading and a keynote address. The colloquium will highlight the UI and its unique position as a gathering place to promote the growing importance of translation in our changing world, according to Rebecca McKay, a UI graduate student in comparative literature and event organizer. McKay has worked with Russell Valentino, UI associate professor of Russian and comparative literature, and director of the UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, to organize the event.

"Programs in translation studies are popping up all over the country; it seems like a particularly crucial time to remind our colleagues around the country and around the world of the depth of Iowa's resources for, and support of, the vital endeavor of translation," said McKay.

McKay explains that the theme of the event evolved from the concept of creating a more dynamic way to explore a serious academic topic.

"I want the participants to be involved in a more hands-on workshop environment," McKay said. "A lot of graduate students who are translating are not in translation programs and so they are often working in isolation. This is a way to create a support network and to share valuable feedback on each other's work."

The colloquium begins Friday, March 31 at 4 p.m. with a bilingual poetry reading at Shambaugh House on the UI campus. Nathalie Stephens, a writer, translator and instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Cole Swensen, a poet and translator in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and the winner of the 2004 PEN Award for Literary Translation, will read from various works. Friday's events also include a reading at Prairie Lights Bookstore at 7 p.m. Vassilis Alexakis, author of "Foreign Words," will read with his translator, Alyson Waters.

The second day of the colloquium on Saturday, April 1, begins at 1 p.m. in the Lucas Dodge Room in the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). Participating in the discussion, "Translation: Process vs. Product," will be Alyson Waters, managing editor of Yale French Studies and lecturer in the French Department at Yale University; Valentino; and Daniel Balderston, UI professor of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the UI Latin American Studies Program (LASP).

The program will present various workshops in which students can give and receive feedback on their translations as well as several roundtable discussions of issues that matter to translators, such as writing about translation and working with authors.

Day three of the colloquium, on Sunday, April 2, begins at 1 p.m. with a roundtable discussion in the Lucas Dodge Room on "The Ethics of Translation" with Michael Henry Heim, professor of Slavic Language and Literature at UCLA, and Nathalie Stephens. Heim will present the keynote  "How to Tell If You're Ready to Translate from a Language" at 5 p.m. in the Lucas Dodge Room.

The colloquium ends with a showing of Niloufar Talebi's poetryfilms, a term used by Talebi to describe films that she has made based on her translations from Persian, from 6 to 8 p.m. in 101 Becker Communication Studies Building.

Additional supporters of this event include: The UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Bond Fund award, UI Departments of English, French and Italian and Spanish and Portuguese, UI European Studies Group, UI Graduate College, Institute for Cinema and Culture, UI International Writing Program, UI Latin American Studies Program, UI South Asian Studies Program, UI Vice President for Research and UI Writers' Workshop.

For more information or to arrange special accommodations to attend the colloquium, call Leslie Aktan, IP Projects Coordinator, at 319-335-3862 or send e-mail to

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and the dean of International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and to promote global scholarship, research and training.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Leslie Aktan, 319-335-3862,; Writer: Kelli Andresen