The Art of Buddhist Translation: Across the Generations

This program usde case studies of translations done at different times over the past century in order to assess how approaches to the translation of Buddhist texts have changed and what the goals for accurate and accessible translations should be in the future. Each source text was the subject of an intensive review, looking at issues of style, presuppositions, philosophical understanding, etc.

The Art of Buddhist Translation: Across the Generations

Dates: July 14-30, 2011

Translation of Buddhist texts has been underway for well over a century. Early translators brought to the task strong philological skills, a wide-ranging familiarity with Western culture, and the luxury of being able to devote themselves to their work with few outside demands. In more recent times, scholars have benefitted from access to a vastly expanded corpus of texts, generations of rigorous work in Buddhist philosophy and related fields, increasing contact with masters of the surviving Buddhist traditions, and a newly emerging interest in Buddhism as a living religious tradition. At the same time, scholars today face pressures as academics that limit the time they can give to philological study and to translation as a discipline with its own unique requirements.

This summer program will use case studies of translations done at different times over the past century in order to assess how approaches to the translation of Buddhist texts have changed and what the goals for accurate and accessible translations should be in the future. Each source text will be the subject of an intensive review, looking at issues of style, presuppositions, philosophical understanding, etc. The aim on the one hand is to honor the work done by pioneers in the field, and on the other to compare recent developments and approaches. Participants may attend one, two or three seminars; preference will be given to those who attend all three. Seminar sessions will meet five hours a day.

The seminars will be variously led by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Dr. Siglinde Dietz, and Professors Luis Gómez and Michael Hahn. Professors Hahn and Gómez, as MRC’s Academic Directors, will coordinate and attend all three seminars.

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