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Rochester Hosts International Conference for Literary Translators

October 2, 2012 | 0 Comments
book in Italian, with pen across it

More than 300 translators from around the world will gather in Rochester for the 35th annual conference of American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), held at the Memorial Art Gallery from Wednesday, Oct. 3 through Oct. 6. Co-hosted by Open Letter Books, the University of Rochester’s literary publishing house dedicated to publishing translated literature, the conference consists of roundtables, workshops, readings, and a film screening at Rochester’s Little Theatre. ALTA is the largest conference for literary translators in the country.

“When deciding where to hold our annual conference we look for an area with a strong presence in translation studies and a lot of things about Rochester fell into place,” said Gary Racz, president of ALTA. “The University of Rochester has strong literary translation programs for undergraduate and graduate students as well as Open Letter Books and Three Percent, its blog dedicated to literature in translation.”

As a way to make the conference accessible to Rochester students, ALTA organizers have waived conference fees for those wanting to attend. “We are very excited to be hosting ALTA in Rochester and have a wealth of great events lined up, including several featuring members of the University of Rochester community,” said Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Books and chair of the conference organizing committee.

Events include English professor (and Open Letter Poetry editor) Jennifer Grotz’s presentation of Open Letter’s poetry series; a panel discussion on linguistics and the culture of humor with Kaija Straumanis, Emily Davis, and the husband and wife translating team Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson; a discussion about translation challenges in modern Russian prose with Laura Givens and John Givens, both from Rochester’s department of Modern Languages and Cultures; and a conversation between Marian Schwartz and Post about the translation of Mikhail Shiskin’s Maidenhair. Author and translator David Bellos will deliver this year’s keynote address, based on the conference’s theme “The Translation of Humor, or, the Humor of Translation.”

According to Racz, “This year we’re seeing a broadening of focus and topics that move from what people view as traditional literary translations to topics on multimedia, music, lyrics, films and more.”

For additional information about ALTA 2012 visit

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Category: Society & Culture