Bennington Translates

In Spring 2015, Bennington College embarked on a highly innovative, multi-lingual, multi-disciplinary translation and interpretation project called Bennington Translates. This project, which spans literary, humanitarian, medical, and legal translation and interpretation, has a special focus on those who work in conflict zones. 

Each of these distinguished visitors spend several days on campus, giving a large public presentation, meeting with classes, offering workshops, and advising students and faculty on proposed and/or ongoing research. New international and domestic contacts and possibilities were established for Field Work Term—the six weeks in winter when students are required to embark on internships, work with service/relief/nonprofit/cultural organizations, or conduct independent research.

Bennington Translates is embedded in the Bennington curriculum, amplifying the College’s range of studies, and extending our reach internationally and in the surrounding community. It also brings disparate populations together; Bennington's PostBac cohort heading to medical school has participated in a working group with literary translation students; anthropology students worked together with journalists; students focused on censorship were immersed in the specific contexts of China and the Balkans.

Bennington Translates was initiated and directed by literature professor Marguerite Feitlowitz, but faculty from languages, anthropology, history, and science work with her to co-sponsor events. Bennington Translates continues to develop within and beyond the College, including participation in a five-college consortium on responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, planning special events around the translation of sacred texts, and addressing the fraught dynamics of indigenous writers with their respective countries' literary mainstream. Marguerite recently wrote an article about Bennington Translates for Words without Borders.


BASMA ABDEL AZIZ is a psychiatrist, writer, and sculptor. A long-standing vocal critic of government oppression in Egypt, she is the author of several works of nonfiction. In 2016 she was named one of Foreign Policy's Global Thinkers for her debut novel, The Queue, which was also named to the longlist for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award.  

KATRINA DODSON is the translator from the Portuguese of The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector (New Directions, 2015), winner of the PEN Translation Prize and other awards. Dodson has taught at UC Berkeley, Bard College, and most recently in the Mills College MFA in Translation Program. She was the Fall 2018 Translator in Residence at the University of Iowa.

ILAN STAVANS is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American, and Latino Culture at Amherst College, publisher of Restless Books, host of the NPR podcast In Contrast, and columnist for the New York Times en Español. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Stavans’ work has been translated into twenty languages and adapted into theater, TV, radio, and film.


ESTHER ALLEN is a former fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Allen is currently working on a biography about José Martí, the founding father of Cuban political consciousness. Her most recent translation, Zama, a 1956 novel by Antonio Di Benedetto, was chosen by Publisher's Weekly as one of the top 20 fiction works published in 2016.

PETER CONSTANTINE is a Guggenheim Fellow and has translated work by Rousseau, Machiavelli, Tolstoy, Gogol, and Voltaire. He was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov.

ELIOT WEINBERGER has translated Chinese poetry and Latin American literature, including The Poems of Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions. His work regularly appears in the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books.

AARON COLEMAN is the author of the chapbook St. Trigger, which won the 2015 Button Poetry Prize, and his first full-length collection, Threat Come Close, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in March 2018. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Fence, New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. He is currently a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in Washington University St. Louis’ Comparative Literature PhD program.

ELISABETH JAQUETTE is an adjunct instructor of Arabic translation at Hunter College-CUNY and is the managing director of the American Literary Translators Association. Her translation of The Queue, by Basma Abdel Aziz, won the English PEN Translates Award and was longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. 


SUSAN HARRIS is the editorial director of Words without Borders and the coeditor with Ilya Kaminsky of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. She was previously director and editor in chief at Northwestern University Press, where she founded the Hydra imprint of literature in translation and published Imre Kertész and Herta Müller before their Nobel Prizes in literature.

JOHN C. PEACOCK is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. He collaborated with tribal elders to produce the first dual-language translation of fifty letters written in the endangered Dakota language by three dozen Dakota prisoners of war incarcerated at Fort McClellan, Davenport, Iowa. Since 1986, he has taught at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where in addition to studio and criticism classes, he also teaches Native American Studies.

SARAH PONICHTERA currently works as the Project Manager of the Vilna Collections Digital Initiative, a seven-year project which aims to digitize the pre-war archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, currently held in both New York and Lithuania. She was a Translation Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center in 2013, and has served as an editor of the Texts and Translations section of In Geveb, an online Yiddish scholarly publication, since 2014. 

REBECCA PETRAS is Deputy Director of Translators without Borders. In 2013 she developed TWB’s Words of Relief, the first-ever global crisis translation network. Words of Relief was piloted in Kenya and has subsequently been deployed in West Africa, Burundi, Nepal, and Europe for the refugee crisis. 


ELLEN ELIAS-BURSAC is a pioneering translator of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian literature, whose work has won numerous international awards. Also a scholar and author, she was for five years a translator at the United Nations Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

MARJORIE BANCROFT is the founder of Voices of Love (VOL), the first interpreting and translation agency devoted to helping survivors of torture, displacement, rape, and other crimes arising in conflict zones. VOL is instrumental in asylum hearings, trials, and clinical settings and has developed the first training programs in this new specialty.

CHAD POST is the Founding Director of Open Letter Books and the Three Percent blog, based at the University of Rochester. JENNIFER ZOBLE is a writer and Bosnian translator, the Co-Editor-in-Chief of InTranslation, and an editor at Brooklyn Rail. She teaches at NYU.

LUKE MOGELSON ’05 has won numerous awards for articles from the war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and elsewhere. The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, and other journals have published his fiction. HABIB ZAHORI, currently a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S., interpreted in his native Afghanistan for Mogelson, Dexter Filkins, Steve Coll, and other preeminent reporters for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications of record.

EDUARDO BERINSTEIN is the founder of ebtranslations. He served as the Director of Interpreting Services at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston and as a translator and interpreter at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Berinstein was instrumental in developing the first Standards of Practice for Medical Interpreters for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which were later adopted nationwide.

JEFFREY YANG, recipient of a 2014 NEA Translation Fellowship, has published three collections of original poetry. He translates ancient and contemporary Chinese and is an editor at New Directions.