Winners selected for Global Humanities Initiative prize for translation

Jake Holland, Copy Chief

Northwestern’s Global Humanities Initiative and Northwestern University Press selected two inaugural winners of the Global Humanities Translation Prize for an “in-progress translation” of marginal scholarly or literary texts and texts of non-Western origin, according to a University news release sent out Friday.

The winners, who each received $5,000, are working on translating texts that meet the prize’s goal of “(promoting) translations that make the greatest contribution to literature and the humanities.”

Carl Ernst, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is currently working on translations and annotations for Mansur al-Hallaj’s classical Arabic poems. Half of the 118 poems Ernst translated have never appeared in English.

Though al-Hallaj is often regarded as a “pivotal figure in the literary and mystical cultures” of the Islamic world, Ernst’s translation would be the first fully comprehensive English edition of his work.

Jason Grunebaum, a senior lecturer of Hindi at the University of Chicago, and Ulrike Stark, professor in the South Asian languages and civilizations department at UChicago, also received a prize for their work translating Manzoor Ahtesham’s “The Tale of the Missing Man” from modern Hindi.

Ahtesham’s novel, a “milestone of modern Indo-Muslim literature,” explores the Indo-Muslim psyche after the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent.

Supported by both the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Global Humanities Initiative aims to bring scholarly attention to works not often studied in the Western canon.

Northwestern history Prof. Rajeev Kinra, co-founder of the initiative, described the prize in the news release as one which “(places) Northwestern University at the center of a vital international conversation about the continuing role of the humanities in building a more just, tolerant and humane 21st century.”

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