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September 29, 2016

Light as a Feather: Translating a darkly political and complex graphic novel

It is an apocalyptic take on modern-day Mexico: Conquering angels rule the nation, indigenous groups stage a vicious revolt, widespread bloodshed ensues and no clear victor emerges.

This is Edgar Clément’s Operación Bolívar, a graphic novel with themes of conquest and foreign influence that resonate just as well now as when the book was published in 1990.

Amy Poeschl first came across Clément’s highly political project in a class on Latin American comic books last year. Long a fan of graphic novels, she instantly fell for Bolívar.

So for her, it was a no-brainer to use the book as the basis for a research project in senior lecturer Amanda Powell’s class on literary translation. Students were assigned to translate a Spanish text, such as a poem or part of a book, into English.

Never mind that none of Powell’s students had ever tried to translate a graphic novel before. Or that Bolívar is filled with complicated subtexts referring to the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the United States’ presence in Latin America. Or that Poeschl was committing not just to the translation of text, but making her new English-language version align with the original book’s visually lavish and often pointedly satirical images.

“I knew it was a big challenge because I had to deal with graphics as well as the words,” said Poeschl, who graduated from the UO earlier this year with a degree in Spanish. “But I adored the graphic novel so much that it was worth it.”

In Latin America, authors have used graphic novels to tackle serious subjects for decades. Through sharp writing and detailed imagery, they’ve pushed for economic and cultural reform, provided alternate views of the region’s history and pointedly criticized authoritarianism in government.

In Mexico, officials have distributed graphic novels widely to promote literacy among the nation’s citizens, particularly the poor, and to teach the country’s history. These trends laid the groundwork for the medium’s acceptance as a legitimate form of literature by a large swath of young people; they have carried that respect and love of graphic novels into adulthood and broadened the appeal of the medium.

Putting a Puzzle Together

Poeschl translated 20 pages of the 164-page novel. She started her project with comparatively strong chops in Spanish—she’s been studying the language since middle school and her family hails from Puerto Rico.

She pored over the 20 pages she translated roughly 100 times. It was like putting a puzzle together—one that helped Poeschl realize that translation is what she loves most about Spanish. “If I could do nothing but this for the rest of my life,” she said, “I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

First, Poeschl did a rough translation of a section, then she refined it over and over. She researched each word’s meaning in English and Spanish, referring to translation dictionaries and then repeating the process panel by panel. She spent days analyzing even a single image of an angel’s body before she began writing an interpretation.

“Researching words and their etymologies was fascinating,” Poeschl said.

Given Clément’s penchant for playing with words, Poeschl felt an obligation to be meticulous even with seemingly obvious translations.

Consider the phrase “la recuperación de la conciencia.” It could be interpreted as “coming to awareness” or “reawakening,” but Poeschl ultimately translated it as “the recovery of the conscience.” That might seem to be the most logical, literal choice, but it was one that Poeschl arrived at only after revisiting the important phrase repeatedly with her classmates and Powell.

Poeschl’s solution, Powell said, subtly drew attention to how Clément skewers the corporate commercialization of basic human activities like making art, healing the sick and seeking spiritual consolation. Thus the need for a recovered conscience.

Along with weighing possible word choices, Poeschl sought to craft each English sentence to match the author’s tone—which presented another layer of challenge. In Bolívar, Clément switches freely between a colloquial voice and a professorial style of the kind you’d find in a history book.

Poeschl also decoded and translated metaphors and puns that have no English equivalent, while ensuring that the translation accurately reflected the accompanying illustrations.

In one passage, Clément, in describing angels, uses a word—“ligeros”—that means both feathery and light, but also trivial or frivolous. There is no single word in English that even comes close to all these shades of meaning, Poeschl said—but the metaphor “light as a feather” fit perfectly.

“That was one that I worked on for weeks before I finally went, ‘Oh, that’s so obvious,’” she said. “You want so much to find that perfect word and you know it’s out there.”

Shades of Meaning

Powell praised Poeschl for skillfully navigating an exceedingly complex and multifaceted novel. Bolívar interweaves allusions to indigenous, Mexican, American and European cultures with Biblical references and political satire.

Translation is more than pulling out a dictionary and plugging in a word that fits, Powell said. For Poeschl’s project, it required looking at the translation within the theme of the novel, while taking into account the particularities of the Spanish language.

“Even within a language, we have instances where no two synonyms denote or connote exactly the same thing,” Powell said. “Each has a shade of meaning, and the history of usage implies a certain thing. That’s all the more true between languages.”

For her part, Poeschl hopes her research will resonate with a larger audience than simply her teacher and classmates. She wants to reach US Latinos and Hispanics who are losing their Spanish fluency, which includes some of her friends.

She chose to translate Bolívar in part because it is filled with important ideas about Mexican history and politics that, she hopes, her friends will more easily grasp in English than Spanish.

“Part of the motivation for me to do this was I had so many friends whose Spanish wasn’t great,” Poeschl said. “I wanted to make it available to them because I knew it was going to be right up their alley.”

Literary translation is valuable as more than just a research exercise, Powell said. It can serve as ideal training for a wide range of careers, including the legal, medical and diplomatic professions.

“It is one of best preparations for any field where the language is nuanced,” Powell said.

Beyond translation, undergraduates in Romance languages have pursued many other avenues of research. Some have studied French- and Spanish-speaking communities in the US, looking at questions such as bilingualism; they have investigated how language shapes communities and how communities that share a language change over time. They have delved into topics as diverse as medieval romance and postmodern performance.

Research in Romance languages also exposes students to often-overlooked parts of the French-speaking world such as Africa, areas of the Caribbean and the Middle East and regions of Africa and South Asia that speak Portuguese.

“When you learn about Africa in high school, you may learn about French-speaking Africa, but rarely do you learn about Portuguese-speaking Africa,” said Amalia Gladhart, department head. “Undergraduate research in Romance languages exposes you to new worlds you never knew existed.”

—Jim Murez

Photo caption: In Operación Bolívar, indigenous people in Mexico wage an all-out war against a ruling class of angels. The book is filled with subtexts referring to the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the United States’ presence in Latin America.

This article appears in CASCADE http://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2016/humanities/light-as-a-feather/
Cascade
College of Arts and Sciences
1245 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1245
cascade@uoregon.edu
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June 15, 2016

PhD candidate Erin Gallo publishes on Netflix TV series

Ph.D. candidate Erin Gallo has recently published a piece on Club de cuervos, the first Spanish-language TV series produced by Netflix and devoted to soccer. While Gallo’s dissertation deals with issues of gender in the works of Rosario Castellanos, she is also an active researcher and practitioner of soccer. imageThe article can be accessed here: http://rmargen.com/2016/06/10/club-de-cuervos/

April 29, 2016

Spring Film Series. Ayotzinapa: Crónica de un crimen de estado

May 4th, 2016 5:00 p.m. Straub 156

Film Viewing: Ayotzinapa: Crónica de un crimen de estado

Ayotzinapa: Chronicle of a Crime of State is the story of the forced disappearance of 43 student teachers, which exposes the criminal complicity between the police and military authorities, and the political and economic elite of Mexico. TRT 101 minutes.

October 12, 2015

Prof. Taylor leads new UO study abroad in Chiapas, Mexico (Summer 2016)


UO CHIAPAS Program       July 18-September 2, 2016       San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico

This 7-week program offers you the opportunity to earn twelve credits in Spanish at the 348-or above level in an intriguing immersion setting. Courses include History of Chiapas, Mesoamerican Foodways, and Academic and Public Engagement across Borders. As an integral element of these courses,UO participants team up with Mexican youth to design and implement unique hands-on social, environmental, or cultural projects oriented toward their mutual interests. Expertly guided group excursions in and around San Cristóbal as well as to Highland Maya Villages, Sumidero Canyon, Chiapa de Corzo, Lagos de Montebello, Agua Azul, and Palenque draw on the knowledge of local experts in fields such as Mayan History, Art, and Culture, Human Rights, Organic and Fair Trade, and Environmental Education to create a holistic program of cultural and academic discovery.

With a population of approximately 200,000 people, San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas, and has been a center of Mayan civilization for thousands of years. Hilly San Cristóbal is a pedestrian-centered, relaxed, and livable market city with a thriving art scene and more than its share of exquisite cafés and hangouts. Highland Maya culture, crisp mountain air, and a cluster of internationally renowned universities, research institutes, and non-profit grassroots organizations make this quaint big city a magnet for curious idealists from all over the world and a cozy perch from which to explore the archaeological, natural, and cultural wonders of Southern Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula.

Operating continuously since 1993, the Instituto de Lenguas Jovel is unmatched in Chiapas for its academic quality and reputation for social responsibility in working with community partners. The Instituto Jovel offers courses in Spanish, German, English, Tzotzil and Tzeltal, as well as cultural programming and workshops, making it a multicultural haven that echoes the provincial charm and international pulse of San Cristóbal. Instructors build museum tours and around-town exploration into their curricula, and Helga Loebell coordinates language exchanges, dance lessons, and cooking classes. Excellent yoga, dance, and martial arts studios are all within a few blocks of the school and students’ home stays.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8KnHB_JBMQ for a quick tour of the school and San Cristóbal. Please contact Professor Analisa Taylor at Analisa@uoregon.edu or OIA Study Abroad Coordinator Luis Ruiz atLruiz1@uoregon.edu for more information.

Application deadline: March 1, 2016

 

chiapas card small

October 11, 2015

Study abroad program in Chiapas

A new study abroad program in Chiapas, Mexico is coming to the UO this summer. You can find out more at two events this week:

Another World is Possible: Service Learning and Intercultural Engagement Across Communities in Chiapas Tuesday October 13, 4:00 to 5:00 pm Friendly 214 Instituto de Lenguas Jovel Director Helga Loebell and Faculty Advisor Analisa Taylor give a sneak peek of the new UO Chiapas Program’s model of academic and public engagement through service learning, sharing with students and faculty how this program creates safe and socially responsible research and internship opportunities that benefit students as well as in-country organizations and communities. Refreshments provided.
Mayan Communities and Social Justice in Chiapas: Summer 2016 Program Open House for Students Wednesday October 14, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Volcanology 101 Join Program Director Helga Loebell and Faculty Advisor Analisa Taylor for an afternoon snack and virtual tour of the Chiapas Program that will take place in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico July 17 to September 3, 2016. We’ll give you details on scholarships, courses, prerequisites, home stays, internship opportunities, planned adventures, and more. Refreshments provided.
Both events are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages, the Office of International Affairs and the UO Global Justice Program.
Program Details:
This 7-week program offers you the opportunity to earn twelve upper division credits in Spanish through courses on Indigenous History and Culture in Chiapas, Mesoamerican Foodways, and Academic and Public Engagement across Communities. UO participants team up with Mexican youth to design and implement hands-on social, environmental, or cultural projects oriented toward your mutual interests. Excursions in and around San Cristóbal draw on the knowledge of local experts in fields such as Mayan History, Art, and Culture, Human Rights, Food Justice, and Environmental Education to create a holistic program of cultural and academic discovery.

With a population of approximately 200,000 people, San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas, and has been a center of Maya civilization for thousands of years before that. Highland Maya culture, crisp mountain air, and a cluster of internationally renowned universities, research institutes, and non-profit grassroots organizations make this quaint big city a magnet for curious idealists from all over the world and a cozy perch from which to explore the archaeological, natural, and cultural wonders of Southern Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula.

Operating continuously since 1993, the Instituto de Lenguas Jovel is unmatched in Chiapas for its academic quality and reputation for social responsibility in working with community partners. The Instituto Jovel offers courses in Spanish, German, English, Tzotzil and Tzeltal, as well as cultural programming and workshops, making it a multicultural haven that echoes the provincial charm and international pulse of San Cristóbal. Instructors build museum tours and around-town exploration into their curricula, and Helga Loebell coordinates language exchanges, dance lessons, and cooking classes. Excellent yoga, dance, and martial arts studios are all within a few blocks of the school and students’ home stays.

See here Chiapas Instituto de Lenguas Jovelfor a quick tour of the school and its setting in San Cristóbal. Please contact Professor Analisa Taylor at Analisa@uoregon.edu or Rick Batchelor at
rbatche2@uoregon.edu for more information.

Program Dates: July 17-Sept 3, 2016

Application Deadline: March 1, 2016

March 31, 2014

Spanish Film Club: Celebrating the New Wave of Ibero American Cinema

Pa Negre

Pa Negre


Mondays at 7pm April-May 2014 (weeks 2-9)
Global Scholars Hall—Room 117

In collaboration with Latin American Studies, Romance Languages, the Yamada Language Center, Cinema Studies, the Oregon Humanities Center and the Global Scholars Hall.
SFC_Flyer_University of Oregon

February 25, 2014

Defending Human Rights: The Amazing Journey of a Mexican Journalist

Award-winning journalist and human rights advocate Lydia Cacho will visit the UO to deliver the 2014 “Bartolomé de las Casas Lecture in Latin American Studies”

Unfortunately, this talk has been cancelled.

Cachio534x800Born in Cancún, Mexico, in 1963, Lydia Cacho is widely recognized as one of the most courageous journalists in the world for her reports on domestic violence, child prostitution, organized crime, and political corruption.

She began her career as a journalist in the mid-1980s, working for the newspaper Novedades de Cancún, in Mexico’s eastern state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. In the 1990s Cacho wrote a series of articles about the prostitution of Cuban and Argentine girls in the city of Cancún. In 2003, Cacho published another series on the sexual abuse of minors for the newspaper Por Esto, including a report on a girl abused by a local hotel owner.

In 2005 Cacho published her book Los Demonios del Edén: El Poder Que Protege a la Pornografía Infantil (“The Demons of Eden: The Power That Protects Child Pornography”), in which she accused powerful businessmen and politicians of being involved in a child pornography ring operating in Cancún and the United States. In retaliation, she was sent to prison and subjected to violence and attempted rape and received numerous death threats. She has confronted her attackers in court and has refused to leave Mexico despite the multiple threats she has received and the offers of asylum made by foreign countries. In 2009, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission ordered the Mexican government to implement protection measures for her, and in 2012 Amnesty International mobilized its members worldwide in a campaign to demand protection for her given the death threats she continued to receive.

Her most recent book, Slavery Inc. The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking (2012), follows the trail of the traffickers and their victims from Mexico to Turkey, Thailand to Iraq, Georgia to the UK, to expose the trade’s hidden links with the tourist industry, internet pornography, drugs and arms smuggling, the selling of body organs, money laundering, and even terrorism.

SlaveryIncBookCover

Talking to the IFEX Global Forum on Freedom of Expression in June 2009 in Oslo, Norway, Cacho said: “When I was tortured and imprisoned for publishing a story about a network of politicians, organized crime, child pornography and sex tourism, I was confronted with the dilemma: ‘Should I keep going? Should I continue to practice journalism in a country controlled by only 300 powerful men, corrupted and rich? Was there any point in demanding justice or freedom in a country where nine out of 10 crimes are never investigated? Was it worth risking my life and my freedom?’ Of course the answer was ‘Yes!’”

Ms. Cacho is also the founder and Director of the “Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres” in Cancún, an NGO that provides support to victims of domestic and sexual violence and sex trafficking.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Hero Award; the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women’s and Children’s Rights; the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award; the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award; the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize; the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan; the PEN/Pinter Prize as an International Writer of Courage; the International Hrant Dink Award; the Civil Courage Prize of The Train Foundation; and the Olof Palme Prize (shared with Italian journalist Roberto Saviano).

Lydia Cacho’s visit to deliver the 2014 Las Casas Lecture is made possible thanks to the co-sponsorship and financial support of the Oregon Humanities Center and its 2013-2014 “Vulnerable” Theme; the School of Journalism and Communication; the Department of Romance Languages; the Office of International Affairs and its Global Studies Institute; the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies; the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics; and the Center for the Study of Women in Society and the 2014 Lorwin Lectureship on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (funded by a gift from Val and Madge Lorwin to the University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences and School of Law).

For further information please contact Carlos Aguirre at caguirre@uoregon.edu or 541-346-5905.

 

November 19, 2013

Nortec Collective Concert

Nortec Collective a Grammy-nominated musical group from Tijuana, Mexico, will be in Eugene Nov. 22-23 to perform and screen their documentary film. The full band’s first visit to the Pacific Northwest is sponsored by the College of Education’s Department of Education Studies and numerous other organizations at the University of Oregon, among them Romance Languages.

The concert will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the historic McDonald Theatre in downtown Eugene. Tickets to the concert are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. For more information, visit any TicketsWest outlet or http://www.mcdonaldtheatre.com/tickets.html.

Edward M. Olivos, a professor in the Department of Education Studies at the College of Education, was instrumental in bringing the group to Oregon. Although cultural sensitivity and appreciation is a key part of his program’s curriculum and a focus of many other organizations on campus, Olivos thought it was important to provide an authentic and fun event to promote these ideas.

“Misperceptions about Latin music often mirror those about Latino culture in general – narrow or old-fashioned at best, stereotypical at worst,” said Olivos. “Hosting Nortec Collective is a great way for us to show the community how modern, vital and relevant Latino culture is. Music can help shift perceptions through the shared cultural experience, particularly the music that is created along the U.S./Mexico border.”

About Nortec Collective

Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible mixes electronica with musical elements and instrumentation from regional Mexican music (tambora and norteño), resulting in the nortec (“norteño” + “techno”) style. Nortec Collective has been nominated for two Latin Grammys and the 2008 album by Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, “Tijuana Sound Machine,” was nominated for best Latin rock/alternative album at the 51st annual Grammy Awards. They have been featured in four books, most notably, “Paso del Nortec: This is Tijuana” and “Nor-tec Rifa!: Electronic Dance Music from Tijuana to the World.” They have toured Latin America, Japan, Europe and the U.S., including shows at Rockefeller Center in New York City; the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Royal Festival Hall in London; and Elysée Montmarte in Paris. They have also performed on college campuses such as UC Davis and Cal State Los Angeles.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Pinkston, UO College of Education communications, 541-346-1392, cpinksto@uoregon.edu

Nortec Collective Documentary

A free public screening of the documentary “Tijuana: Sonidos del Nortec” will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, in the Great Room, room 123, of the Global Scholars Hall on the UO campus, followed by a Q&A with Ramón Amezcua (Bostich) and Pepe Mogt (Fussible).

The full band’s first visit to the Pacific Northwest is sponsored by the College of Education’s Department of Education Studies and numerous other organizations at the University of Oregon, including the Department of Romance Languages.

Edward M. Olivos, a professor in the Department of Education Studies at the College of Education, was instrumental in bringing the group to Oregon. Although cultural sensitivity and appreciation is a key part of his program’s curriculum and a focus of many other organizations on campus, Olivos thought it was important to provide an authentic and fun event to promote these ideas.

“Misperceptions about Latin music often mirror those about Latino culture in general – narrow or old-fashioned at best, stereotypical at worst,” said Olivos. “Hosting Nortec Collective is a great way for us to show the community how modern, vital and relevant Latino culture is. Music can help shift perceptions through the shared cultural experience, particularly the music that is created along the U.S./Mexico border.”

Spanish Prof. Pedro García-Caro and Music Prof. Juan Eduardo “Ed” Wolf will offer some opening remarks at the start of the show on Friday.

September 26, 2013

Stickels Scholarship recipient Fulgaro completes intensive language study in Mexico

Ivano Fulgaro, MA student in Romance Languages and a 2013 Stickels Scholarship recipient, reports the following experience from his time in Guadalajara, Mexico:

Thanks to the support of Department of Romance Languages and the Stickels Scholarship, last summer, I attended an advanced Spanish language course in Mexico. I chose to go to the Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros (CEPE) at Colegio de Español y Cultura Mexicana, University of Guadalajara. I soon realized that CEPE was the right choice since when I received the first email by Luis who helped me throughout the entire application process and during my stay. The course was well organized and delivered by an attentive instructor. We worked on several topics such as Mexican culture, cinema as well as the subjuntivo [subjunctive mood of verbs]. During my stay, I lived with a family and I had the opportunity to “taste” some Mexican food and culture with its nuances and peculiarities. Even if for a small amount of time, it was great to be part of the community and to communicate with people in a different language. The more languages we speak the bigger our world is.

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