Translation Series

Event flyer

Kata Gellen, Saskia Ziolkowski


Type: Lab

The Global Jewish Modernism Lab hosts a series of readings and lectures focused on translation. These events aim prompt conversations about the topics of translation and identity across campus, drawing on previous initiatives and also hopefully lead to new interactions.

We consider how various aspects of translation–from the translator’s background to choices about target language and distribution–shape the understanding of a work as Jewish. Other questions include the role of self-translation within Jewish Studies, the complexity of translating multilingual works, and the phenomenon of first edition translations (e.g., German exile writers who wrote in German but whose work first appeared in English or Spanish translation). We also draw on the diverse linguistic knowledge of Duke’s community to consider works that have not been translated into English, calling attention to the act of translation as a formative cultural and political act.

Translation with Michael Hofmann

March 24, 2022 (Franklin Humanities Institute Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Smith Warehouse, Bay 4)

The first visiting translator for the translation series was Michael Hofmann, an acclaimed critic, poet, and translator, whose essays regularly appear in the London Review of Books and Poetry Magazine. He has translated over 70 books from German into English, including works by Hans Fallada, Franz Kafka, Ernst Jünger, Heinrich von Kleist, Joseph Roth, and Wim Wenders.

Translation with Ann Goldstein

September 8, 2022 (David M. Rubenstein Library, Carpenter Conference Room 249)

At this event, celebrated translator Ann Goldstein read selections from a few of her many translated pieces and answered questions regarding her work. She began her reading with the beginning of the chapter “Hydrogen” from Primo Levi’s text The Periodic Table. This was followed by a section from Elena Ferrante’s novel My Brilliant Friend, and she finished with a selection from the work Return to Latvia, an autobiographical text by Marina Jarre whose translation is forthcoming.

Translation and World Literature

April 4, 2024 (David M. Rubenstein Library, Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room 153)


  • Stiliana Milkova, Comparative Literature and Italian, Oberlin College and Conservatory
  • Carol Apollonio, Slavic and Eurasian Studies, Duke
  • Eileen Chow, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke
  • Martin Eisner, Romance Studies, Duke
  • Sarah Quesada, Romance Studies, Duke
  • Reut Ben-Yaakov, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke