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Spotlight Interviews

In a series of interviews conducted by the Department of Comparative Literature, students describe their unique capstone projects, explaining why they are interested in translation, how they developed their interests through the capstone project, and what they learned from the experience.

Olivia Alge ’17 (BS, Informatics) found a way to integrate her studies in computer science with her passion for language. Her capstone project was a paid internship through Lakeside Software Company, where she translated software strings from English to Spanish. As she developed skills in technical translation and technical writing in Spanish, she was able to apply what she had learned in her translation classes to her methods of translating. Throughout her undergraduate studies Olivia also enjoyed participating in the annual U-M Translate-a-thon.

Sara Cusack ’17 (BA, Asian Studies-Chinese and Cognitive Science-Language and Cognition; Minor in Community Action and Social Change) dedicated her capstone project to volunteering as a law clerk at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). She worked with Spanish and also with Chinese in translating client declarations and correspondence, and interpreting for client meetings. As she practiced literary, legal, and technical translation, her internship also provided a platform to engage with translation as civil service and social justice, and to reflect on the ethics of translation.

Quynh Kieu ’18 (BS, Neuroscience) drew on her native language and culture to create a capstone project entitled “Translating Vietnamese Women.” She contributed English translations to Women in War: Wartime Posters from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1955-1975, and was invited to participate in a panel discussion about this U-M special exhibit at Hatcher Graduate Library. In addition Quynh translated a short story by Mai Thuy Tran, with a reflection on the role of women in Vietnam, her own role as a translator, and the expansion of her cultural knowledge through translation.

Thomas Degroat ’17 (BS, Neuroscience) approached his capstone project as a translation between media. He adapted an excerpt from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, into a script designed as pilot episode for a television mini-series. Using concepts from translation theory to describe adaption from literary to film, he found new and exciting ways to think about his experience of translating.


Marine Barjol ’18 (BA, Political Science) developed a capstone project out of her internship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where she worked with a visiting fellow to translate his book about the Syrian conflict. Translating from French into English, she had a chance to work directly with the author to clarify questions for American readers. As an international student, she found that minoring in Translation Studies helped her become more comfortable in moving between languages.