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Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Tarjamat: Thinking Between Languages and Modern Scholarship Languages

​​​​​​​​During the week of March 13th 2017 the Department of English, the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) and the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages hosted The Tarjamat Series, a series of activ​ities, performances and lectures related to histories, theories and practices of translation.​

The series began​ with a poetic performance by author Hisham Boustani and translator Thoraya El-Rayess on March 14th, followed by a lecture on the poetics of translation by Henry Aweiss and Sleiman Bakhti on March 15th. On the 16th and 17th there were two additional performances, Nothing to Declare by the performance collective Dictaphone, and Sahar Mandour Turns 32, by author and journalist Sahar Mandour. 

The Tarjamat Series aimed to provoke thinking between languages in modern scholarship, that extends beyond the literary and linguistic domains to demonstrate an interdisciplinary interest in History, Anthropology, and Sociology. The dissemination of knowledge is one of the core tenets in translation practices, as is a commitment to open and accessible scholarship. Through the performances, showcases and lectures of the Tarjamat Series, translation emerged as a lens through which to examine the academic connections possible between disciplines, not just in transliteration but in new ways of creating and pursuing knowledge.

AUB is uniquely situated to host symposia on translation studies. Our university as well as our city Beirut, are central sites for circuits of modernity since the nineteenth century. Add to that our mostly bilingual, if not polylingual, students, make AUB a unique place for reflections about the importance of practices of translation in academic and artistic discourse.

Assistant Professor Rana Issa organized the series. “By inviting young and talented artists and writers, Tarjamat hopes to draw local attention to the importance of thinking translation in our world today. By thinking translation with the local Beirut community the challenge is to find other ways to translate that are inherently emancipatory and decolonial,” she said, explaining the importance of local voices in the program.

The events highlighted the potentials of studies in translation, which AUB will be exploring further when Translation Studies offers diplomas at the graduate level in the future. The Department of English and the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages already have a joint minor in translation in place and offer several courses in comparative literature that are especially useful for students with more advanced interest in literary translation. This minor trains future translators in thinking across disciplinary areas to develop connections beyond their respective fields.

Associate Professor Bilal Orfali, Chairperson of the Department and Near Eastern Languages said: “AUB’s leading role in promoting the study of the humanities in the MENA region as constitutive of a liberal arts education provides the ultimate ground for the program’s multilingual and multicultural ambitions. AUB’s own multilingual environment will also form the basis for exploring the study and practice of translation from a practical, theoretical, and ethical perspective. The program will feed off as well as add to Lebanon’s unique multilingual environment. It will bring together various departments across campus, increasing the opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration in the creation of courses, organization of events and workshops, and development of research projects.

Translation Studies has been an area of research in Europe for several years, but has seen recent proliferation in the US, the Middle East and Asia.  A Translation Studies graduate diploma which offers training in the histories, theories, and practices of translation will attract students from across the region and abroad by offering a strong base in the history and theory of translation as well as build student repertoires and portfolios that showcase the quality of their practical translation skills. 

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