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Japan in Translation
- Markus Nornes (Professor of Asian Cinema at the University of Michigan)
- David Karashima (Assistant professor of creative writing at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University)
- Sam Malissa (Fulbright fellowship reseacher and PhD student in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University)
Translation is often thought of as a straightforward process that moves information from one language to another. When we consider that translation is an encounter negotiating between cultures, it becomes clear that what’s going on is far more complex. Depending on how a novel, a film, a political speech, or a viral video is translated and presented, it can be a powerful medium for shaping understanding about foreign countries and peoples.
The speakers on this panel address some of the ways that ideas about Japan have been formed and influenced through translation. Sam Malissa focuses on translations of Japanese literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in terms of who the translators and publishers were, how the translations were promoted and circulated, and how the translations fit into broader political and artistic currents. Markus Nornes examines the subtitling of Japanese films as a case of how translation has the potential to expand or limit the acceptance of differences between cultures. David Karashima considers the career of Murakami Haruki in translation, exploring how one writer can come to stand in for a whole culture.
Taking a closer look at the role translation plays in Japan’s image in the world invites us to question our attitudes towards the foreign and unfamiliar and to reconsider how we form our assumptions about other cultures.
Professor of Asian Cinema at the University of Michigan
Markus Nornes is Professor of Asian Cinema at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Cinema Babel: Translating Global Cinema (Minnesota UP), a theoretical and historical look at the role of translation in film history. He also wrote Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary and Japanese Documentary Film: From the Meiji Era to Hiroshima (both Minnesota UP) and co-wrote Staging Memories: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s City of Sadness (Michigan). He co-edited Japan-American Film Wars (Routledge), In Praise of Film Studies (Kinema Club), The Pink Book (Kinema Club), Hallyu 2.0 (Michigan) and many film festival retrospective catalogs. He is on numerous editorial boards and is co-editor of the Kinema Club coll ective, which he helped found. He worked for many years as a coordinator of the Yamagata International Film Festival.
Assistant professor of creative writing at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University
David Karashima is an assistant professor of creative writing at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University. He has translated into English works by authors such as Hitomi Kanehara, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Taichi Yamada, Hisaki Matsuura, and Shinji Ishii, co-edited (with Elmer Luke) the anthology March Was Made of Yarn: Writers Respond to the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown, and serves as international editor of Granta Japan. In 2008 he helped found the Read Japan initiative at the Nippon Foundation, a partnership among authors, translators, editors, publishers, and universities to facilitate the publication of Japanese literature in translation.
Fulbright fellowship reseacher and PhD student in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University
Sam Malissa is currently writing his doctoral dissertation, “Translating Japanese Modernities,” towards a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University. This year he is conducting research in Japan on a Fulbright Fellowship. He is also a translator of fiction and scholarship from the Japanese. He has contributed translations to the online literary journal Words Without Borders; Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th Century Japan; Politics and Power in 20th Century Japan: The Reminiscences of Miyazawa Kiichi; and the forthcoming Book of Tokyo. Prior to entering graduate school, he was the Assistant Director of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia.