2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of Contexts for Classics and its annual translation contest, which highlights the work of students who are interested in the process of translation as a creative, intellectually meaningful enterprise. To celebrate this special occasion, the contest was expanded to include a wider range of languages taught in the departments of Asian Languages and Cultures, Classical Studies, and Middle East Studies.
Three panels of judges, representing each of these departments, have awarded a total of nine prizes: two to students in Asian Languages and Cultures; four in Classical Studies; and three in Middle East Studies. Congratulations to the winners listed below, who have kindly agreed their translations to be made available for the community to view or download.
We look forward to an exciting third decade (and more) for this contest, as our students continue to explore the ways in which classical languages can be reimagined in other contexts.
Asian Languages and Cultures
Jahnabi Barooah Chanchani, translations from the Bālagopālastuti.
Jahnabi is a PhD student in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. She has been an avid student of classical Sanskrit poetry since 2013. Her research is on ancient and medieval South Asian cultures. She is particularly interested in literary depictions of human-animal intimacies, in love poetry, manuscript cultures, miniature paintings, and pre-modern practices of literary and visual translation. Her peer-reviewed articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Aziatische Kunst (Brill), the Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts (U Chicago), and Manuscript Studies (U Penn).
Elinor has just graduated from the Master’s in International and Regional Studies program with a specialization Japanese Studies. Her research interests are in early medieval Japanese religions and women’s history. Her thesis, of which this translation is a part, is titled “Demonesses and Devotees: The Women of Kankyo no tomo,” and analyzes the text with the perspective of the elite female patroness who commissioned the work in mind. In Autumn 2021, Elinor will be starting a PhD in Religions at the University of Southern California.
Anna Cornel, translation of Bion, fragment 8
Anna is a PhD candidate in the Department of Classical Studies. They are working on a dissertation entitled An Other View: Intersectional Identity in Classical Greece, which examines identity formation in ancient Greece and focuses on the lived experience of marginalized people. Anna especially enjoys the challenge of translating poetry into Dutch or English meter. On campus and around town, you can easily spot them with a knitting project in hand.
Hussein Alkadhim, translation of Homer, Iliad 24.486–512
Hussein is from Dearborn, Michigan. He is studying English literature and the Ancient Greek language. He loves reading fiction and myth and poetry. He writes his own fiction and has been influenced by many other authors, whether those from Ancient Greece or more contemporary authors like Camus or Fitzgerald.
Joshua Johr, Gripus, a film adaptation of Plautus, Rudens
Joshua is a graduating Film, Television, and Media major with a concentration in screenwriting. He enrolled in Professor Ruth Caston’s Ancient Comedy Class this past fall and was immediately intrigued by the material. He knew it would likely be his last opportunity to make a video for a class project and wanted to put his best foot forward. He will be pursuing a Masters of Management at the Ross School of Business.
Isabella Reacher, translation of Virgil, Aeneid 12.930–952
Isabella is a junior in the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences. She is majoring in Biochemistry. She would like to give a shout-out to all of her Latin teachers: Renee Mayes (Tappan Middle School), William Finch (currently at Huron High School), Douglas Julius (Requiescat in Pace, Pioneer High School), and Marshall Calvin Buchanan (U of M).
Middle East Studies
Allen Kendall, translation of Hymns to Senwosret III
Allen is finishing up his second year in the Interdepartmental Program in Ancient History. He grew up in central Texas before getting his BA in Classical Studies and his MA in Comparative Studies from Brigham Young University. His research focuses on Hellenistic history, especially Ptolemaic Egypt and Hasmonean and Herodian Judea, though he is also interested in the earlier histories of these areas. He focuses on royal ideologies and the roles of women and children in royal courts.
Yeager, translation of Ecclesiastes 4
Yeager is a second year PhD student in Classics. Their background is in Biblical and Judaic Studies, so they are interested in bridging the gap between Religious Studies and Classics. In the meantime, they work on ancient proof texting and social dynamics within literary circles.
Mehrdad Kavani, translations from Sacho Sarmast, Masnawi
Mehrdad is a class of 2021 Michigan graduate with degrees in Biology, Heath & Society, and Persian Studies. He was born and raised in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the United States at 13. Currently, he is studying to become a dentist and operates several Persian-language social media platforms focusing on linguistics, history and poetry in his free time.