CHBS grant allows professor to share James Joyce translations abroad


Radford University Professor of English Jolanta Wawrzycka is the recipient of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Research/Scholarly Project Award, a grant for scholarly research that has helped fund her studies of legendary wordsmith James Joyce.

The grant has allowed Wawrzycka to undertake efforts to translate the poetry of James Joyce into her native Polish and travel to Utrecht, Netherlands to present her work.

Translating poetry from one language to another poses many problems, Wawrzycka said.

"My task was to translate Joyce's poems into Polish and present commentary for the symposium and in journal articles," Wawrzycka said. "The difficult part is preserving what the poetic elements were in the original."

Wawrzycka said when poems are translated oftentimes rhymes, rhythm and meter are lost. She endeavored to ensure the spirit and the flow of Joyce's work carried over in her translations, she said.

The grant also allowed her to travel to Utrecht University in the Netherlands for the 2014 International James Joyce Symposium in June where she participated in a panel discussion about silence in Joyce's work, or, all the themes and messages left unsaid in the text.

These silences were of particular interest to Wawrzycka as she translated his poetry, she said.

The combination of producing work and engaging with the scholarly community is a key goal of the CHBS grant.

"Dr. Wawrzycka's work truly represents the synergy between teaching and research we highly value at RU," said CHBS Dean Kate Hawkins. "Not only is she internationally recognized for her James Joyce scholarship, but she has also collaborated with a number of her students in producing scholarship of their own.  We know that collaborating with students on research is a high impact teaching practice that significantly enhances learning for our students."

Utrecht wasn't the only destination for the professor this year. In February, Wawrzycka used some of the grant funds to help bring two Radford University graduate students, Riley Dishner and Martha Gilchrist, to Italy to present at the seventh annual James Joyce Italian Foundation Graduate Conference in Rome.

Wawrzycka has attended the conference every year since 2008. Gilchrist and Dishner are the third and fourth students she has brought to present their research. "It makes my classroom time more meaningful because every time I teach on a graduate level, I'm always on the lookout for someone who might have a special appreciation of Joyce, a talent for critical reading of his works, or a curiosity about the Irish culture," she said.

In addition to acting as a mentor, Wawrzycka also brought her own Joyce scholarship to the conference. She delivered a keynote address titled "Dubliner di color che sanno,” which can be translated as "Dubliner of the kind that knows." The phrase is paraphrased from Joyce's "Ulysses," and refers to the type of person who knows just about all there is to know about literature, culture or the world at large. According to Wawrzycka, Joyce was “that kind of Dubliner,” and it was his intellect and cultural acuity that ensured his works would be studied after his death.

"New readings often uncover the significance of things we didn't realize earlier, like Joyce's critique of British colonization of Ireland," Wawrzycka said. "Joyce's use of language still is quite revolutionary in terms of vocabulary, in terms of representation.  His works are like encyclopedias, so you learn a lot. Also, he’s just a sheer joy to read and he really truly is a funny writer."

Jul 22, 2014