Graduate degree: M.F.A. in comparative literature—translation

Beginning with the country's first translation workshop 50 years ago, literary translation has long been an integral part of the conversation about writing at the University of Iowa. The M.F.A. program in comparative literature—translation combines creative practice, international literature in-the-making, with training in world languages, literatures, and theory. The focus of the program is on creating translations into English that convey both the distinctness of the original and the immediacy of contemporary language.

The Translation Program enjoys close relationships with the University's program in comparative literature; M.F.A. programs in creative writing (fiction, poetry, and Spanish creative writing), nonfiction writing, and playwriting; and the International Writing Program. Faculty members from departments in the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures provide resources for the Translation Program and often serve as language mentors and committee members for M.F.A. students in translation.

The Translation Program is administered by the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.


Student translators in the M.F.A. program publish Exchanges, a journal of literary translation. A vibrant source of international writing in translation, the journal provides hands-on editing and online publishing experience as well as an occasional venue for the editors’ own works. The M.F.A. program regularly hosts and cohosts conferences, invites speakers from around the world for readings and short-term residences, and is a constituent unit of the Virtual Writing University.

The Language Media Center (LMC) is an essential resource unit for faculty and students in the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The LMC offers facilities and services for traditional language laboratory work as well as for foreign language video and computer-based activities. LMC facilities and services include a 50-computer information technology center (Windows and Macintosh), two digital audio laboratories, a multimedia development studio, a One Button Studio for video recording with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), 13 media viewing stations, and six small-group rooms. The LMC also circulates a collection of over 3,000 foreign language, English as a Second Language, and American Sign Language digital media materials.

Translation Courses

TRNS:1000 First-Year Seminar1 s.h.

Small discussion class taught by a faculty member; topics chosen by instructor; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities, field trips). Requirements: first-semester standing.

TRNS:2000 Translation and Global Society3 s.h.

Contexts and functions of translation in the age of globalization; how translations are produced, received, and utilized in various contexts; effects of globalization on ethics, aesthetics, and politics of translation; how we understand cultures when they are received or transmitted through translation; effects of these exchanges on the English language.

TRNS:2017 Workshop in Literary Magazine Publishing2 s.h.

Hands-on introduction to literary magazine publishing; major differences between print and digital publishing, the processes of design, layout, soliciting work, editing copy, proofing, promotion, and distribution; University of Iowa and Iowa City community resources; editors and writers share their expertise through a series of informal question-and-answer sessions and task-based assignments.

TRNS:2018 Workshop in Literary Review Writing2 s.h.

Hands-on introduction to literary review; process of selecting books (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction) for review; writing, revising, and submission of work; University of Iowa and Iowa City community resources; editors and writers share their expertise through a series of informal question-and-answer sessions and task-based assignments.

TRNS:3179 Undergraduate Translation Workshop3 s.h.

Translation exercises, discussion of translation works in progress; alternative strategies for translation projects. Same as CL:3179, CLSA:3979, ENGL:3850.

TRNS:3189 Undergraduate Translation Workshop II3 s.h.

Continued training through translation exercises, discussion of translation works in progress; alternative strategies for translation projects. Prerequisites: TRNS:3179.

TRNS:3200 Literary Translation from German3 s.h.

Workshop and seminar on translating from German to English; emphasis on literary translations and studying existing translations; special issues of German as a source language for translation into English. Requirements: prior completion of two German courses at the 3000 level or above. Same as GRMN:3200.

TRNS:3201 Workshop in Japanese Literary Translation3 s.h.

Workshop in translation from Japanese to English, with emphasis on literary translation; issues in theory and practice of translation; special features of Japanese as a source language for translation. Corequisites: JPNS:3001, if not taken as a prerequisite. Same as JPNS:3201.

TRNS:3202 Workshop in Chinese Literary Translation3 s.h.

Translation from Chinese to English with emphasis on literary translation; issues in theory and practice of translation; special features of Chinese as a source language for translation. Prerequisites: CHIN:3102. Same as CHIN:3201.

TRNS:3481 Introduction to Computer-Assisted Translation1 s.h.

Translation memory, terminology management, multimodal translation, and project management to increase proficiency in a range of technological skills; evolving translation technologies emphasize learning skills required to employ tools of today and effectively learn to use those of tomorrow; use of translation technology in freelance and agency settings from document receipt through delivery. Requirements: completion of General Education Program rhetoric and interpretation of literature requirements.

TRNS:3491 Translation Internship1-3 s.h.

Translation internship. Requirements: permission of the program coordinator of the undergraduate minor in Translation for Global Literacy in consultation with the student's advisor.

TRNS:3498 Translate Iowa Projectarr.

Internship with the Translate Iowa Project. Requirements: TRNS:2000 or TRNS:3179 or TRNS:3202 or ENGL:3724 or JPNS:3201 or FREN:4890 or SPAN:3030 or SPAN:3050 or SPAN:4980. Same as ARAB:3498.

TRNS:3499 Undergraduate Translation Seminar3 s.h.

Translation studies for undergraduates; topics related to practice of literary translation.

TRNS:3700 Topics in Global Cinema3 s.h.

Identification of new models and methods to investigate cinema's relationship to current global issues beyond traditional scholarly focus in Western Europe and the United States; exploration of an emerging field, moving away from the paradigm of national cinema and bringing together shared theoretical frameworks while acknowledging different historical and cultural contexts. Same as ASIA:3700, JPNS:3700, WLLC:3700.

TRNS:4050 Independent Study1-3 s.h.

Focused study on topic of student's choosing under direction of faculty member. Requirements: permission of the student's academic advisor or the program coordinator of the undergraduate minor in Translation for Global Literacy.

TRNS:4100 Approaches to Critical Theory3 s.h.

Introduction to major critical approaches in literary and cultural theory from a variety of traditions; studying existing models, students learn to think theoretically about language and society, and to orient themselves among existing theoretical discourses, interrogating the latter critically in terms of their own perspectives and theoretical needs; selections from influential works, shared class discussion, and presentations; no prior knowledge in the area of critical theory is presumed. Same as CL:4100.

TRNS:4480 Literature and Translation3 s.h.

Translation in the broadest sense; originality, authority, authorship, accuracy, ownership, audience; issues problematizing differences between medium and message. Same as SLAV:4480.

TRNS:4497 Techniques of Translation3 s.h.

Prerequisites: FREN:3300. Same as FREN:4890.

TRNS:4500 Undergraduate Capstone Project0-3 s.h.

Culmination of undergraduate minor in Translation for Global Literacy; translation manuscript or a scholarly/research thesis on topics relevant to scope of minor. Requirements: approval of the program coordinator of the undergraduate minor in Translation for Global Literacy; consent of a faculty member willing to serve as director of the capstone project.

TRNS:4800 Seminar in Comparative Literature3 s.h.

Focus on comparative, interdisciplinary, theoretical, and/or inter-arts topic; topics vary; required for comparative literature major. Same as CL:4800, WLLC:4801.

TRNS:5205 International Translation Workshop1-3 s.h.

International writers pair with University of Iowa translators to write new works of poetry and fiction in English; second-language fluency not required for international writers. Same as IWP:5205.

TRNS:5491 Translation Internshiparr.

TRNS:5500 Advanced Translation Practice1-3 s.h.

Substantial translation project guided by a faculty advisor; readings and assignments designed to help translator with particular tasks and challenges presented by the project; translation and critical/reflective writing. Prerequisites: TRNS:6459 and TRNS:7460. Requirements: advanced-level translator in literary translation M.F.A. program.

TRNS:6000 The Craft and Contexts of Translation1 s.h.

Focus on craft and contexts of translation practice; provides students with information and experience regarding the profession and practice of translation; readings, reflective writing, and participation at guest events that focus on topics and practices relevant to the craft and professional contexts of translation.

TRNS:6050 Independent Studyarr.

TRNS:6400 Thesisarr.

Translation thesis with critical introduction.

TRNS:6459 Issues in Translation3 s.h.

Contemporary and historical theories.

TRNS:6555 Translator-in-Residence Workshop3 s.h.

Translation workshop facilitated by the translator-in-residence; focus on review and revision of student manuscripts; readings on technique and theories, translation practice, and manuscript review.

TRNS:7460 Translation Workshop3 s.h.

Requirements: at least one foreign language. Same as IWP:7460.