Feature News

Professor selected for NEH institute

May 08, 2017

Esra Tasdelen, North Central College assistant professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENA), has been selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Scholar to attend the institute “What Is Gained in Translation? Learning How To Read Translated Literature.” In a highly competitive application process, Tasdelen was chosen to receive NEH funding to attend the institute at Kent State University in June. 

The institute’s curriculum is focused on the study of texts in translation as a way to develop cross-cultural literacy and explore what can be gained by addressing issues of translation in the classroom. The institute will also provide the theoretical models and applications developed in translation studies that will enable participants to exploit translation as a teachable moment.

“With this grant, I will create and present a project that incorporates translation theory and the digital humanities into undergraduate teaching. I will then apply the expertise I’ve gained throughout the institute to develop my courses at North Central,” Tasdelen said. 

The NEH is an independent federal agency that serves and strengthens the public by endorsing excellence in humanities and conveying lessons of history to all American citizens.

Tasdelen also has been awarded a North Central College course development grant for courses she will teach in spring 2018. She will create more digital sources for her IDS 125: Popular Culture in the Modern Middle East course and a second course, Literary Landscapes of the Modern Middle East.

“I will work on incorporating samples of world literature in translation into the undergraduate classroom and introduce the students to different world views, literature and authors they have not previously encountered,” she explained. “Students will then have the opportunity to analyze these texts in Middle Eastern history and be able to find and describe common themes prevalent in these literary works.” 

For the 2016-2017 school year, there was an increase in enrollment for the MENA minor program. “In addition, our presence on campus is growing rapidly with the help of cocurricular events such as lectures, concerts and Verandah courses,” she added.

Tasdelen emphasized that students who complete a MENA minor have an advantage in their careers compared to their peers. “Having been introduced to one of the most widely spoken languages of the world—Arabic—and having gained a much deeper understanding of this crucial region of the world that is central to foreign policy, business, international relations and world civilizations, graduates can work in both national and international corporations, in government, and in [nongovernment organizations] and nonprofits,” Tasdelen explained.

For more information, visit northcentralcollege.edu/mena.