Asselin Charles, a professor of Communication and Literary Studies at Sheridan College, was awarded an honorable mention for his translation from the French of Frankétienne’s Dézafi. Written in an experimental style, Dézafi follows the story of a Hatian plantation that is worked by zombies under the rule of a living master. When the master’s daughter falls in love with a zombie, allowing him to return to his human form, an uprising begins amongst the zombie workers to challenge their oppression. The novel provides a poignant commentary on Haiti’s history of slavery, and Charles’ translation brings it to English language readers for the first time.
Donald Rayfield was awarded an honorable mention for his translation from the Russian of Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Stories, Vol. 1. Kolyma Stories is a collection of short fictional stories based upon the fifteen years that Shalamov spent in a Soviet prison camp. According to Penguin Random House, “[Shalamov’s] stories are at once the biography of a rare survivor, a historical record of the Gulag, and a literary work of unparalleled creative power, insight, and conviction.” Rayfield, a professor of Russian and Georgian at the Queen Mary University of London, is an English author and translator and has written several acclaimed books examining Russian and Georgian history.
The 2019 award went to Damion Searls for his translation from the German of Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson. Set in 1967, the book follows the lives of Gesine Cresspahl, a German émigré to Manhattan and single mother to ten-year-old Marie, dedicating a chapter for each day of the year. Damion Searls is an American translator and writer who specializes in translation from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch. According to Parul Sehgal of The New York Times, “Searls’s superb translation inscribes Johnson’s restlessness and probing into word choice and the structures of the sentences themselves, which quiver with the anxiety to get things right, to see the world as it is.”
Elise Kolle, of the New England Conservatory of Music, is conducting research on the historical harps housed at the Nydahl Collection in Stockholm. Elise is investigating the history of two nineteenth-century harps while learning about museum work from the Collection’s curators. Funds from the Roth Foundation will allow Elise to perform a series of lectures and recitals in which she will perform harp music and speak about Swedish instrument makers of the 19th century. Elise hopes that her work at the Nydahl Collection will enrich her experience as a scholar of music and help her further develop her career in musicology and museum work upon her return to the U.S.
Caitlin Vitale-Sullivan, of Idaho State University, is studying kulning, a type of traditional Swedish folk music used to call cattle and communicate over long distances. She is interested specifically in the interaction between landscape and sound, and the resulting potential to combine landscape sounds with vocal and instrumental music to create an ensemble. Funds from the Roth Foundation will support Caitlin’s enrollment in supplemental workshops that will deepen her experience of Swedish folk music and dance. Upon her return to the U.S., Caitlin hopes to pursue a doctorate in landscape architecture and agroecology, using her knowledge of nature’s interaction with music to promote the importance of green spaces in communities.
In over ten years of service as ECA’s Deputy Director and Director of Budget and Finance, Yolanda has ensured that the Department of State accomplishes its cultural diplomacy mission in the most cost-effective manner. With her all-encompassing knowledge of the Bureau’s operations, Yolanda informs important financial decisions that ensure the long-term success of ECA’s cultural and educational programs. Beyond her immense technical knowledge, she has the ability to translate policy and finances into genuine people-to-people connections. Serving as a leader and mentor to her colleagues, is what truly sets Yolanda apart and makes her indispensable to the Bureau and its mission.
Kaja Gjelde-Bennett, of Pacific Lutheran University, is studying language rights and revitalization of the Sami, the Indigenous peoples of Northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Her Roth Foundation award will allow her to travel to South Sami institutions in Norway and Sweden in order to gain access to their unique archives and conduct interviews with Sami language educators, community leaders, and politicians. Upon her return to the U.S., Kaja hopes to pursue a PhD in Indigenous Studies or Sociolinguistics in order to advance indigenous language revitalization.
Kristen Gleason, of the University of Georgia, is conducting research in the contemporary Norwegian Arctic in order to advance her work in environmental theory and aesthetics as well as to aid in the writing of her novel, set in the near-future Arctic. Her Roth Foundation award will allow her to travel to several Northern arts and literature festivals throughout Norway in order to expand her research and connect with Northern artists and writers. Upon her return to the U.S., Kristen plans to teach creative writing in a university setting while continuing to work on her novel.
Sarah Holdren, of Elon University, is researching the cross-cultural similarities and differences between U.S. and Finnish neonatal care. With the help of her Roth-Thompson Award, she will be able to expand her project by observing the full implementation of Finland’s Close Collaboration with Parents plan, a program designed to promote parent-infant closeness in NICUs. Upon her return to the U.S., Sarah plans to pursue an MD-PhD in medical anthropology in order to advocate for policy change surrounding U.S. NICU practices.
Carolyn Kehn, of the United States Military Academy at West Point, is studying the cross-cultural differences in gender equality in the U.S. and Finnish militaries. Her Roth-Thompson Award will allow her to create a more in-depth study, as she will be able to interview military officials and female soldiers in both the U.S. and Finland about their experiences. Upon her return to the U.S., Carolyn plans to incorporate the results of her studies into the culture of her own unit in the U.S. Army and advocate for cultural and policy change concerning gender equality in the military.
This year’s award went to Cameron Turley, of City University of New York. Cameron is studying Inuit settlements and their relationship to ethnogenesis in Greenland. His award will help to provide access to archival materials and local scholars, allowing him to further enrich his studies. Upon completion of his project, Cameron plans to pursue an archeological career in Greenland.
The 2019 award went to Susan Bernofsky for her translation from the German of Go, Went, Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck. Erpenbeck is the award-winning author of seven novels, five of which Bernofsky has translated into English. Erpenbeck’s moving 2015 novel Go, Went, Gone recounts the story of a former (East German) academic who befriends and becomes involved in the precarious lives of a group of African refugees in Berlin. Bernofsky, one of today’s best-known translators of German-language literature, directs the Program in Literary Translation in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
Alistair Ian Blyth
MLA Roth Award, Honora>descent. In this moving novel, he unfolds the experience and memory of the horrific Armenian genocide that took place a century ago in the Ottoman Empire. Originally written in 2009/12 and translated into over 20 languages, Blyth’s translation makes the book available to English-language readers for the first time.
Through his research project entitled Michelangelo and Paper as Palimpsest, Mauro Mussolin, professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and New York University Florence, investigated the sources of Michelangelo’s graphic work as well as the lifecycle and uses of paper in the studios of Italian Renaissance artists. Arguing that Michelangelo’s use of paper was indissolubly linked to the genesis of his ideas, he has used ultra-violet light and digital photography to reveal previously unknown sketches executed in stylus, which are invisible in conventional reproductions.
RT Hon David Miliband
In his lecture titled “The New Arrogance of Power: Global Politics in an Age of Impunity,” Mr. Miliband examined the shift today in international relations away from checks and balances on the use of power, and towards an age of impunity. His explanation of how the rules-based international order forged after World War II is being undermined serves as an urgent call to preserve the rule of law and protect the most vulnerable. A video of the lecture delivered at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, is available on their website.
Sozopol Fiction Seminar, 2019
Fellows: Joanna Elmy (BG), Eirill Falck (US), Aleksandar Hristov (BG), Maria Makedonska (BG), Karen Outen (US), Karen Parkman (US), Maria Reva (US), Albena Shkodrova (BG), Stanislava Slavova-Petkova (BG) and Melissa Wan (UK).
Marta Garcia de Bello
Marta’s leadership as a Cultural Affairs Specialist has been crucial to maintaining diplomatic relationships in Venezuela even after the official American presence there ended. Due to Marta’s resilience in the face of these difficult circumstances, outreach activities by EducationUSA and American Spaces continue guiding current and future leaders of Venezuela to become agents of positive change.
As Cultural Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Consulate General in Australia over the past 27 years, Helen has inspired hundreds of Australian students to study abroad in the United States by creating specialized outreach programs for EducationUSA and increasing media coverage to make opportunities more visible. Her unwavering dedication to educating students about study in the United States led to the U.S. becoming the first-choice destination for study abroad for Australian students. Helen has created long-lasting professional relationships that will continue to strengthen the greater U.S.-Australia partnership for years to come.
Jeffrey’s work as Cultural Affairs Officer transformed U.S. public diplomacy efforts in Tanzania and created a lasting positive impact. By cultivating a strong network of contacts, Jeff partnered with local organizations to host meaningful programming, such as the first-ever Tanzanian girls entrepreneurship summit for young female innovators. Jeffrey’s work demonstrates a deep compassion for and knowledge of Tanzanian culture and history through which he has created programming that is relevant to the unique interests of the Tanzanian people and advances U.S. cultural diplomacy in Tanzania.
As Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Nicole has shown great ingenuity in cultural diplomacy programming that creates lasting mutual respect and understanding between the people of the U.S. and Madagascar. Her innovative programming included a modernized English language learning symposium, a musical education workshop series that brought together local and American artists and a U.S. film festival in which films were dubbed or subtitled in Malagasy. Nicole’s deep understanding of Malagasy culture and current cultural trends and her dedication to creating impactful programming reached previously untapped audiences and made the United States the leading voice in cultural diplomacy across Madagascar.
Robin’s ingenious use of art and culture to reach Palestinian youth and women’s groups helped them develop skills help themselves through programs that provided arts management courses, entrepreneurial support, and cultural tourism development. Her collaboration with Palestinian civil society organization and intensive social research enabled her Post to innovate their engagement with Palestinian women. With delicate cultural sensitivity Robin mentored staff, grantees and alumni to build interacting layers of human resources and a strategic framework that will benefit post programs for years to come.
*The Prix Coindreau Prize, The Jeanne Varnay Pleasants Prize for Language Teaching, and the CASVA-Henry & Judith Millon Award are currently inactive.