MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College will host a symposium titled “On Translation and Tradition: The Role of the Translator” from 2-6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11. The event, the sixth Silberman Symposium in Jewish Studies, will bring together a group of translators of Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Hebrew and French. The symposium is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Robert A. Jones House conference room on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125).

“These distinguished translators will reflect on the meaning and the mystery, the problems and the pleasures, of translating major literary works and religious texts from across the centuries for a 21st century audience,” said Robert Schine, Middlebury College Curt C. and Else Silberman Professor in Jewish Studies. According to Schine, who is also vice provost and the organizer of the event, many of the participants will read from their translations as well.

The symposium will consist of two sessions, each of which will offer three speakers and a moderator. A discussion will follow each session. The first session will take place at 2 p.m. Middlebury College Instructor in Religion and Classics Laura Lieber will begin the symposium with a talk titled, “Liars, Blasphemers, and Translators: Aramaic Renderings of Scripture in the Synagogue of Late Antiquity.” Haverford College Professor of Comparative Religions Michael Sells will discuss “Translation and the Sacred in Islam,” and Peter Cole, a Middlebury College visiting winter term faculty member, poet and translator who lives in Jerusalem, will give a lecture, “ ‘They All Look Alike to Me:’ Translating Convention and Individual Voice in the Hebrew Poetry of Medieval Spain.” Middlebury College Professor of Religion Larry Yarbrough will serve as moderator of the discussion that concludes the first session.

The second session will begin at 4:15 p.m. with a talk titled “On Not Translating Hafez,” by Dick Davis, Ohio State University professor and chair of the department of Near Eastern languages and cultures, who will address the problem of how what is considered intrinsically poetic varies from culture to culture. David Hinton, Middlebury College winter term visiting faculty member and award-winning translator of East Calais, will discuss “Translating Across Cosmologies: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China.” Richard Sieburth, professor of French and comparative literature at New York University, will present a lecture, “That Obscure Object of Desire: Translating Scève’s ‘Delie.’” Middlebury College Professor of Political Science Allison Stanger will serve as moderator of the discussion that follows the second session.

Silberman Symposium

The Silberman Symposium is supported by the fund for the Curt C. and Else Silberman Chair in Jewish Studies. Establishing the fund in 1994, Curt Silberman said, “Our intention is not to sponsor a chair for Jewish students and Jewish studies per se. What is intended is the creation of a forum for students of all creeds and religions and even nonbelievers, which would become at the same time a kind of community forum with scholars, professors, lecturers and citizens at large as participants.” Its goal is universal: to contribute “toward better understanding of each other.” Else Silberman died in 2001 and her husband Curt Silberman died in 2002.

The symposium is cosponsored by several Middlebury College entities?the Curt C. and Else Silberman Chair in Jewish Studies, the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, and the religion department.

For more information, contact the Middlebury College Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at 802-443-2300.

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