Writing Archive

Results in BLC Posts

Thinking about Writing: The challenge of writing assignments at the intermediate French language level

My project addresses issues with composition in the second-year French language program. In response to concerns voiced in surveys by students and instructors, I designed four units and suggested lesson plans. The first provides color-coding analysis of sample essays, allowing students to visualize and parse the elements of an essay. The second unit walks the…

Results in L2 Journal Articles

‘The Heartache of Two Homelands…’: Ideological and Emotional Perspectives on Hebrew Transnational Writing

The work of immigrant writers, whose professional identity is built around language, can deepen understandings of sociolinguistic and psychological issues, including aspects of the immigration experience; the position of language in the ideological and emotional value systems, and the significance of language for individual development. This paper deals with a number of translingual writers ...

Eugene Jolas: A Poet of Multilingualism

Eugene Jolas, the first-time publisher of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (1939 / 2012), started his career as a translingual journalist and poet. A French-German bilingual, Jolas acquired English in adolescence, crossing the Atlantic to refashion himself as an American man of letters. A "Man from Babel," as he styles himself in his posthumous autobiography of the same title (1998), Jolas ...

Nancy Huston’s Polyglot Texts: Linguistic Limits and Transgressions

Throughout her career, Nancy Huston has both accepted and transgressed the limits of bilingualism. Limbes / Limbo (1998), L’empreinte de l’ange (1998), The Mark of the Angel (2000), Danse noire (2013), and Black Dance (2014) are five texts that demonstrate Huston’s diverse use of polyglot writing. While Limbes / Limbo is characterized by ...

Writing the Translingual Life: Recent Memoirs and Auto-Fiction by Russian-American and Russian-German Novelists

One of the more remarkable developments in translingual literature over the past decade has been the rise of a new wave of Soviet-born authors writing in languages other than their native Russian. Autobiographical elements have always figured prominently in their fiction, and some of these authors have recently crossed the boundary into non-fiction by writing memoirs. The process of writing in a second language about becoming a writer in a second language gives these books a particular self-referential quality. This essay surveys the latest memoirs and auto-fiction (published 2012-14) of five Soviet-born immigrant novelists in the U.S. and Germany—Gary Shteyngart, Lena Gorelik, Lara Vapnyar, Olga Grjasnowa, and Maxim Shrayer.  It argues that constructing a narrative of the self for a foreign audience serves as a crucial step in the gestation of a translingual novelist. This narrative urge often predates the actual mastery of the new language. Rather than as the result of an already-achieved acquisition of a new linguistic medium, telling one’s story in a non-native language emerges as a means toward language learning and integration.

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