UPF and Columbia University collaborate on a literary creation and translation program

  • With the support of the Institut Ramon Llull and the Fundación Han Nefkens

The prestigious School of the Arts at New York’s Columbia University and UPF-IDEC at Pompeu Fabra University are to cooperate on a literary translation program, Word for Word, supported by the Institut Ramon Llull (IRL) and the Fundación Han Nefkens.

The program will foster cultural exchange in literary translation and creation between students on the creative writing programs of both universities. The aim of the program is to cultivate links between emerging Catalan and American writers and to stimulate the search for potential literary translators from Catalan into English, one of the IRL’s key objectives.

The initiative, led by Columbia University, has been ongoing with universities in other countries for a number of years, with Pompeu Fabra University a new addition for the 2014-2015 academic year. Two students from the creative writing program at Columbia University will participate, and two UPF-IDEC students. The program was started in Columbia by the renowned professor and literary critic Susan Bernofsky.

The initiative has two objectives. Firstly, to promote literary translation as an active form of creative writing. Secondly, to encourage mutual translation of texts by the same students, under the supervision of literary translation specialists. “We promote translation and creation as two sides of the same coin. For IRL, the training and generational renewal of good translators is fundamental for the promotion of Catalan literature internationally. We are currently seeing a high point for Catalan literature thanks to the invaluable work of some translators who have become our greatest ambassadors,” said the director of the IRL, Àlex Susanna.

The co-director of the Master Program in Literary Creation at UPF-IDEC, Jorge Carrión, said “this is a unique opportunity for our students to learn and participate, not just in processes of literary creation and production, but now also of translation”.

The exchange begins this week, when the two Columbia students come to Barcelona to meet their UPF-IDEC counterparts. The pairs of students will participate in a program of activities which will take place from 2 to 6 November and will bring them to the Fundación Hans Nefkens, UPF-IDEC, the Laie CCCB bookshop and Institut Ramon Llull. The students will also participate in various sessions of the UPF-IDEC Master in Literary Creation. In spring two UPF students will go to New York in order to complete the translations and the exchange.  Throughout the year, the students will continue to work together remotely under the supervision of instructors from Columbia University and UPF.

At the end of the exchange, Columbia University, IRL and the other European institutions involved in the program will publish a collection of the work of all the students on the Word for Word Program. “As well as educating the participants, we seek to encourage literary publication,” explained Carrión. UPF-IDEC already works with the Fundación Han Nefkens, providing a Literary Creation grant that allows students to write and publish a book.

UPF, IRL and Columbia University have all expressed their interest in continuing to work together in order to offer graduate students from both Universities further educational and artistic opportunities.

Columbia University is one of the most prestigious Universities in the world, a pioneer in research in medicine, science, humanities and the arts. With the collaboration of IRL, Columbia University now offers a Catalan Studies course which covers Catalan language and the cultural, political and social context. The program is complemented by academic activities that allow students to explore Catalan reality. The two students who are to participate in the Word for Word program have already studied Catalan language on this program.