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    Vassar College
  Feb 22, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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CLCS 182 - Lost in Translation?: Writing the New Self in a Different Language

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)

(Same as GERM 182 ) Eva Hoffmann, who emigrated from Poland to Canada at age thirteen, initially experienced the transition from Polish to English as “a dispossession of one’s self.” For her, adapting to a new language and culture involves a balancing act: “how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement?” This course seeks to study what it means (and has meant) for a variety of non-native speakers to write in English or another second language: from the politics of using “the language of the colonizers,” to personal journeys of self-transformation and loss of identity, to the discovery new aspects of one’s personality in another linguistic and cultural context. Readings include stories, essays, speeches and autobiographies in which authors reflect on what it means to write in a new “tongue.” The course also explores aspects of second language acquisition, including the privilege of the non-native speaker, as well as academic essays on the relationship between language and personal identity. In addition to studying the stylistic conventions of academic writing in English, assignments give students the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences as non-native speakers writing in English and/or their experience working with communities of non-native speakers of English. Karin Maxey.


Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Readings and discussions in English.

Three 75-minute periods.

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