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Our Project

The 4W International Women Collective Translation Project convenes scholars from across disciplines and institutions as part of a collaborative translation praxis. It aims to make texts and related ideas that are only available in Spanish also accessible in English – and vice versa – to benefit writers and readers around the world.

In 2018 project leaders began hosting regular workshops under the name, “Living Poetry: Women in Translation (WIT).” Together, readers, translators, and interpreters translate literary texts – particularly poetry – by writers from the Americas and Spain. Collaborators represent a range of interests and expertise, including translation studies, cultural anthropology, global education, public health, cancer biology, and gender studies. Readings and discussions of selected texts bring forth the unique linguistic experiences, knowledges, and cultural backgrounds that each collaborator adds to the praxis – from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panamá, Nicaragua, England, France, Spain, Poland, and the United States. The project also engages a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students from academic units such as the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. In 2019, WIT received support from the Center for Humanities Borghesi-Mellon Workshops Program to continue and grow this work.

WIT workshops explore subjects related to women and gender, health and wellbeing, urban and ecological thinking, and urban and non-urban sustainability. Readings and discussions of selected texts aim to illuminate the text’s multiple perspectives and question the cultural experiences they enable and the contextual and symbolic meanings they convey. Each of these elements are required for the creation of innovative versions of the texts either in English or Spanish. Workshops also explore research on the concept of translation from a theoretical perspective, as well methods for comparing and contrasting previous translations in order to create new, transformative versions.

This project is also part of an ongoing collaboration between UW-Madison and the Museum of Environmental Sciences (MCA) at the University of Guadalajara. Under the guidance of renowned research ecologist Eduardo Santana-Castellón, MCA founded the City and Nature José Emilio Pacheco Literary Award. WIT collaborators have translated texts by many of the award winners as part of an anthology to be published by Meninas Cartoneras, Spain’s most historic publishing house centered on cultural diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, and gender equity. Click here to view the 4W WIT bilingual anthology.

Activities and Impacts

  • Created a sustainable program model to allow continuous engagement with international scholars.
  • Hosted over 50 in-person and virtual translation workshops with students and scholars at UW and beyond.
  • Grew our community to include 20 collaborators, representing a diverse range of academic units across campus.
  • Held workshops with over 20 different international poets and authors, representing much of the Americas and Spain.
  • Translated 30 literary texts as of August 2021.
  • Developed excerpts and translations for MCA Meninas Cartoneras Anthology in collaboration with the International Book Festival in Guadalajara.
  • Collaborated with renowned Argentinian poet, novelist, and music scholar Luisa Futoransky to translate her recently authored poem, “Joan of Arc, the Gateway.” The translation was published by Poetry International Archives in April 2020.
  • Featured the work of well known Latin American writers and scholars Alicia Borinsky (Argentina) and Nadia Lopez Garcia (Mexico) at the WIT Panel of the 2021 4W & WGSC Conference, “Resistance and Reimagination: Gender, Change, and the Arts.”
  • In collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Communication Task Force for COVID-19 (UCCC19), WIT members translated into Spanish one survey and ten videos and infographic material related to COVID-19 social and physical distancing guidelines (March – May 2020).
La mujer que crece es única y también es todas las mujeres. / The woman who grows is exceptional and she is also everywoman. Gabriela Barrionuevo (2019)