I Believe I Have Crossed The Void

Hello All,

First, the important stuff: Here is the link to my final project. Due to some strange exam-time thought processes, I thought I would go with Blogspot rather than WordPress. Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking at WordPress blogs all semester, maybe it’s because I like to be different. Maybe it’s just inexplicable, but that’s what I did. In my limited interactions with blogging sites, I did find that Blogspot allowed for a few more design choices, and I found that the templates available were slightly more customizable than those found here on WordPress, but maybe that’s just me.

Some concluding remarks: It’s all there in the reflection section of my project (I called it an epilogue because frankly that sounds better to me), but admittedly, the digital world is not yet the world for me. Maybe it will be one day, and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later, but at the moment, I find myself stuck between the digital world and the analog world, and have a hard time “crossing the void” between them. Perhaps this new blog of mine is a step in the right direction. Perhaps I’m wrong and I’m just losing it. Who knows? (I certainly don’t).

Lastly I would like to say that it has been an absolute pleasure spending my time between 2:30 and 3:50PM every Monday and Wednesday (and the odd Friday) with you excellent people. I would like to send my sincere gratitude to Matt and Susan for their help and feedback throughout the process. Your comments allowed me to turn my paper from a pile of mush, into a glorious mush sculpture. I would also like to thank the rest of you for sharing with me the (sometimes horrendous) process that was writing and publishing this project.

I look forward to seeing nearly all of you in Creative Writing next semester.

Adam Bernards

Long Form Argument and Its Various Forms

This week’s readings on long form argument seem to point to one thing, whether that is explicitly like in “After the Document Model”, or more subtly through their form like the Scalar readings and the Storify article, that is, that scholarly discussion and production is changing. Gone are the days where one’s only option is reading an unchanging document in a book or a journal. As scholarship progresses and changes to accommodate a new wealth of resources, specifically those found online like tweets and videos, technology must move forward with it. If a scholar is discussing a video in their work, it just seems practical for the reader to have immediate access to that video at their disposal. This is one of the many services these (relatively) new forms of scholarly production and long form argument provide.

Now readers and writers of scholarly work have a whole new world of resources to turn to. There is such a growing number of sites and programs devoted to changing the face of academic publication that an author can choose a platform incredibly specific to his or her own purpose. In some ways this makes things easier for the author, but in many it also provides yet more complications. With so many appealing options, the author is faced with a burden of choice, and the lingering knowledge that they could make the wrong choice of platform, and it could destroy the validity of their work. On the other hand however, with the right choice, a new platform could propel their work further than it ever could have gone with a simple print production.

On the whole, it does not seem like there are enough drawbacks to say that this new wealth of options for scholarly production and long form argument is not a very good thing for the world of academia. If nothing else, it simply means that scholarly research is becoming more widespread and easily accessible which seems to me like a very good thing.

Annotated Bibliography: Lost in Translation

AlBzoor, Baseel Ali. “Semantic and Pragmatic Failure in Translating Literary Texts: Translators’ Inconsistency And/or Textual Resistance.” Ph.D. Purdue University, 2011. ProQuest. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

*AlBzoor explores the various problems that arise when one considers the structural makeup of different languages, and the editorial and semantic choices a translator must make in order to produce a coherent translation in a new language. He excuses semantic drawbacks and mistakes as being both “condemnable” but still “pertinent to meaning at the lexical and phrasal levels” (AlBzoor ix.)

Borges, Jorge Luis, and Suzanne Jill Levine. “Some Versions of Homer.” PMLA 107.5 (1992): 1134–1138. JSTOR. Web.

*Borges and Levine discuss translation as the problem that is most “essential to literature and its small mysteries” (1136). They effectively place translations not as inferior to the original text, but more so as important methods of re-evaluation, not dissimilar to watching a film for the second time. They also bring to light the question of fidelity to the original text, with the conclusion that a literal translation and one that has taken certain artistic liberties are both faithful to the original text and deserve to be considered as serious contributions to the original text.

Braund, Susanna. “Translation as a Battlefield: Dryden, Pope and the Frogs and Mice.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition 18.4 (2011): 547–568. Print.

*Braund provides an interesting insight into the world of translation by looking at it through the lens of a battlefield metaphor. She also states insightfully that translation not only has literary implications, but also moral and political ones, as each new translation is created in a way that represents its own socio-political framework.

Chamberlain, Lori. “Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation.” Signs 13.3 (1988): 454–472. Print.

*Chamberlain places translation in a gendered context, more specifically speaking of translation in terms of paternity. She claims that in order for a translation to be considered legitimate, the translator must “usurp the author’s role” (Chamberlain 456). In other words, the translator becomes a paternal figure who must preserve the chastity of the female text (456). This viewpoint places in intriguing spin on the politics of translation.

Cohn, Ruby. “Samuel Beckett Self-Translator.” PMLA 76.5 (1961): 613–621. JSTOR. Web.

*Cohn presents an interesting view on the study of translation, discussing Samuel Beckett’s acts of auto-translation, rather than translations performed by another author on an original work. Through her adept analysis, we get a particularly poignant statement on the difficulties of translation, mainly that even an author translating his own work runs into problems of language, where the translation must make some exceptions to allow for lack of perfect transferability between the two languages.

Danby, Nicola Doone. “The Space between: Self-Translators Nancy Huston and Samuel Beckett.” M.A. York University (Canada), 2003. ProQuest. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

*Danby, like Cohn enters the less popular critical stream of discussing self-translation. She raises the question of how one is best served in approaching a self translated text, that is, whether to approach it as one approaches the original, or as a translation, or does the reader have to approach a self-translated text in some hybrid form, considering both original and translation side by side rather than one after the other. Her somewhat narrow approach (looking only at a couple isolated examples) nonetheless provides some important insights into this niche field of criticism.

Geddes, A. G. “Homer in Translation.” Greece & Rome 35.1 (1988): 1–13. Print. Second Series.

*Geddes looks at translation through a different perspective than many of the other critics I’ve researched here. He looks at translation through the lens of a university professor who has always only based his understanding of Homer’s Iliad on its original Greek composition, not through its translations. In this work he relates his growing fondness for English translations of the text and their many virtues which he previously attributed only to the original. Like some of the other scholars, he sees artistry and variation in translation to be a benefit, as much as it is problematic.

Lewis, Charlton T. “Mr. Bryant’s Translation of the Iliad.” The North American Review 112.231 (1871): 328–370. Print.

*Lewis, first and foremost, emphasizes the massive cultural import of Homer’s epics, claiming them to be singularly more crucial than any other text to the world of literary production. He goes on to say, interestingly, that it is the mere impossibility of recreating such a magnificent text in a translation that has lead to “the inspiration of genius” in those who have attempted it (Lewis 349). In making this claim he also makes an implicit comment on some of the difficulties of translating a texts like those of Homer’s, but praises those who make the effort.

McMurran, Helen. “Translation as Offence: The Case of Desfontaines.” Translation and Literature 17.2 (2008): 150–164. Print.

*McMurran discusses translation in a slightly different context than many of the other scholars here. Rather than discussing the nature of translation of ancient texts, she seeks to inspect the implications of translating a contemporary text. She explores whether a translator working on a current text has the same freedoms and liberties of style as one working on a translation from an ancient text. She delicately traverses the question of whether translation is an offence on the original, or if it is an original piece of authorship in itself, advocating, correctly I think, for the latter.

 

Shorrock, Robert. “The Values of Translation: Contestation and Creativity in Homer’s English ‘Iliads.’” International Journal of the Classical Tradition 10.3/4 (2003): 438–453. Print.

*Shorrock, like Mcmurran, advocates for the status of original authorship for the translator. He enters this discussion through an analysis of several different translations of the same passage from Homer’s Iliad, noting all of the particularities in each of these different translations. Most importantly to his work is the claim that “translations are actively fashioned texts that demand consideration in their own right” (Shorrock 438).

 

SUMMARY:

It seems that in the study of translation, there is one question that reigns as paramount: that is, the question of the authorship and authority of the translator and his work compared to that of the original text he is translating. Nearly all of the above works deal with this question in some form, and most of them seem to agree that the translator is not merely a passive observer and replicator of the original text, but at the very least one who adds to the original, and more often than not, one who is creating his own original text, within the context of the original. That said, at the same time most of the scholars above also agree that there are a series of problems associated with being a translator, mainly that there always comes a time when the gap between the languages of the original and the translation becomes too big to traverse, and the translator must make editorial decisions as to how to create a text that best represents the original. It is in these editorial decisions that the question of authorship becomes most important. How many changes can a translator make before his text becomes entirely separate from the original? What sorts of changes are allowed, and which ones are more of an offense to the original than a benefit to the translation? These questions run through nearly all scholarly discussions of translation, and can only lead to a further exploration of the topic before any definitive statements can be made.

 

Word Count: 255

Project Proposal: Lost in Translation (a working title)

As someone who is officially qualified as bilingual (I speak both French and English fluently), who also has a relatively advanced knowledge of Latin, I have always been fascinated with language and how it functions; in particular how words are translated from one language to another. Much of my education in languages has been surrounded by the act of translating from one language to another, whether that be through the act of thinking in my native English and translating that into French in my head before speaking, or sitting down with a passage written in Latin or French and attempting to put it into proper, idiomatic English. This process is slow, tedious, and also flawed. There have been times (and there always will be) where the translation I, or others in my position, come up with seems to lack a certain je ne sais quoi, that is, some element of the text in its original language has been “Lost in Translation”.

When faced with a text in another language, the translator must always make a choice: whether to perform a literal, word for word, translation of the text before them, or whether to take some creative liberties in order to preserve some sense of artistry in the new translated text. This choice alone leads to the production of countless different translations of texts like Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey for example. But that choice aside, the translator is faced with another problem: that is, that some words in Latin, for example, have several different meanings in English (or other languages); and further, some words just don’t have perfect translations in other languages. Take the term Dasein, coined by Heidegger in German to elucidate a certain state of ideal being in the world. Translated literally into English this term is “There being” but most Heidegger scholars don’t feel that this is an accurate translation of the term. In fact, in translation, many people leave Dasein as it is, in its original German so as not to take its full meaning away.

All of this is to say that, simply put, translation is an imperfect art. When one reads a translation of a text, one is not reading the text, but the translator’s interpretation of the text. This leads to a question of authorship, which has tremendous implications for those reading and looking to interpret a text.

Looking at several examples of widely translated texts like Homer’s epics, and Virgil’s Aneid, several smaller scale translations like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot published originally in French (En Attendant Godot) and then translated by Beckett himself into english, and some less literary sources like packaging and government documents and releases, I aim to tackle this issue of translation and the imperfect way in which languages intersect and cross over. I will also seek to discuss some of the larger scholarly, and sometimes political implications of this breakdown of language that occurs in translation.

 

The Onion: An Empire Founded on Satire

Adam Bernards

Susan Brown

ENGL 4310

September 28, 2015

““This guy’s really interested in the poor, so we should have something nice to say, like, I don’t know, how they’re salt-of-the-earth people or how they’re humble or something like that,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), one of several dozen representatives who stood around struggling for nearly half an hour to come up with any positive associations they felt toward the country’s impoverished population” (The Onion).

Since its conception in 1988, The Onion has cemented itself as one of the best sources for satirical writing, in particular political satire, in the United States. Its articles provide a uniquely intelligent and witty brand of social commentary that has attracted massive readership across North America, and the rest of the world. In its “About Us” section, The Onion sarcastically boasts a daily readership of 4.3 trillion, claiming itself to have a “towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires” (About The Onion). This daily readership statistic is obviously false, but their actual readership is roughly one million readers per month, a number which is not insignificant when you consider the niche market they cater to (Wenner, Peeling The Onion). It’s relatively large (and constantly growing) readership, paired with the high level of intelligence buried beneath the humorous top layer has lead many to question whether satirical news sources like The Onion aren’t just as important as pieces of political commentary as they are as instances of comedic writing. The Onion provides a uniquely honest commentary on the world around it, and for that reason among many others, it is clear that it has a much greater importance to society than just being funny. Not only is it a powerful source of social and political commentary, but it is steadily growing into a prominent social media platform.

On the surface, one can hardly find a piece of serious information on The Onion’s website. Its “About the Onion” section claims it was founded in 1765, operates the majority of the world’s transoceanic shipping lanes, and is “the single most powerful and influential organization in human history” (About the Onion). It seems at first glance that nearly every other sentence on the entire website contains a joke in some form. It is first and foremost an entertainment website after all. That said, after reading only one article from its politics section, one begins to see that The Onion is much more than a website full of cheap jokes. Beneath that layer of humour is a well-informed, expertly crafted political opinion that uses comedy to convey its message. Sociologists Shawn Bingham and Alexander Hernandez speak to the power of comedy as a means of conveying knowledge in a classroom setting in their article “Laughing Matters”: The Comedian as Social Observer, Teacher, and Conduit of the Sociological Perspective.

“Laughing Matters” is an extensive analysis of the value that satire and comedy can have in a classroom setting. Their article claims that this value comes from the accessibility that comedy and satire provide; essentially that a student is more likely to retain information if they are being entertained as they receive it. They point to a fellow sociologist, Murray S. Davis, who claims that comedians “break open our frames by disordering what has been ordered by human constructions and social expectations” (Bingham and Hernandez 337). What Murray is ostensibly saying is that comedians have the advantage of not being confined to those “social expectations” that would dictate to others what information they can convey, and how they can convey it. Using the example of a different Onion article than the one being discussed here, Bingham and Hernandez point to a specific case of a time when satire was used effectively to get the students thinking on a deeper level about the subject matter. The article in question was headlined with the caption “Myspace Outage Leaves Millions Friendless”, and it was used to force the students to think about the role social media plays in their lives. Observing how this was successful, they say, “satire became a vehicle for engaging students in analysis of the norms, structure and habits that exist in the Myspace World” (Bingham and Hernandez 339). To speak to the value of The Onion in particular, Bingham and Hernandez list it alongside Comedy Central and Clipblast as one of the “sites that provided us with a good start, yielding the most material” (Bingham and Hernandez 341). Bingham and Hernandez speak to the quantity and the quality of content on The Onion’s website. In terms of our discussion on the power and importance of satire news sources like the Onion, they definitively conclude that satire is just as valid as a conduit of social and political information as any other source; but in mentioning the quantity of their content, they inadvertently bring us to a positive evaluation of The Onion as a piece of social media as well.

Regardless of its content, The Onion‘s website is an effectively designed piece of social media that encourages its readers to stay on and continue reading once they have come to the site in the first place. From any given article, the reader has access so several more without even needing to scroll down on the page. Of course, once they do that, they gain instant access to even more articles and videos. From an article, the reader only has to scroll down to read the next article in that section; or they can choose to click the “Menu” tab which always remains at the top of the screen, even when you scroll down, and gain access to the main page, or to any of the eight sections of the online newspaper. In his article “The Onion is Not a Joke” Chris Heller speaks to the power of this recently redesigned website: “The Onion unveiled its new website on Friday, and through it, we can see a glimpse of what The Onion might become: a real media empire” (Heller). Here Heller emphasizes that The Onion has become much more than a fake newspaper. He goes on to say, “Onion Inc. cannot be described, simply, as a publisher. It has been transformed into a bonafide digital media company—with a profitable, in-house advertising agency in tow—that wants to succeed where the targets of its barbs have not” (Heller). Heller is certain that The Onion is on the rise as a social media empire, which stands just as powerful as the institutions it exists to parody.

Satire news sources like The Onion have a unique and powerful impact on the political and social world. They have the benefit of accessibility that many more conventional news sources simply don’t have. Bingham and Hernandez say “laughter is often a reaction to something that resonates with students” (Bingham and Hernandez 350). The ability that satire has to convey information and entertain its reader at the same time sets it apart from traditional newspapers. Its for exactly this reason, coupled with The Onion‘s recent efforts to rebrand and expand its reach, that it is growing into the media empire that Chris Heller claims it is. It’s intelligent design and well crafted content cement it as an effective and powerful instance of social media.

Word Count: 1133

Time posted 9:00 pm, Monday September 28th

 

Works Cited

“About The Onion.” The Onion. Onion Inc. Web. <http://www.theonion.com/about/&gt;.
Bingham, Shawn, and Alexander Hernandez. “”Laughing Matters”: The Comedian as Social Observer, Teacher, and Conduit of the Sociological Perspective.” Teaching Sociology 37.4 (2009): 335-52. Web.
Heller, Chris. “The Onion Is Not a Joke.” The Atlantic 1 May 2015. Web.
“House Lawmakers Brainstorming Some Good Things To Say About Poor People Before Meeting Pope Francis.” The Onion. Onion Inc., 22 Sept. 2015. Web.
Wenner, Kathryn. “Peeling the Onion.” American Journalism Review 1 Sept. 2002. Web. <http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=2618&gt;.