Member Profile: Denise Merkle

Why did you choose Translation Studies?

I feel that translation and Translation Studies chose me to some extent. I grew up in Toronto, a child of immigrants. Translation was part and parcel of daily life. After improving my command of French at the undergraduate level, I earned an M.A. in translation. From working as a translator, I moved on to teaching translation, and soon embarked on doctoral studies. My passion for Translation Studies has continued to grow over time.

What are you working on at the moment?

Censorship of a literary work or its translation has often left me dumbfounded: how can a simple novel, for example, provoke such a violent reaction? My interest in activist writers and translators who produce controversial works and their conflict with figures of authority has not diminished over the years. The power of translators and the written word, along with various manifestations of discourse manipulation, continue to intrigue me. These questions seem particularly relevant in our technology-driven world that devalues the written word and literacy.

What book/film/band has made the biggest impression on you recently?

Over the past few years, Aboriginal and Métis artists have made me think about so many fundamental issues. The rapper Samian, the slam poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, writers An Antane Kapesh, Tomson Highway and Thomas King, the painter Kent Monkman. They are all activists, whether they wish to be considered as such or not. They use (or used) their pen or their brush to contribute their utmost to correcting past wrongs in order to create a better future for their people. I deeply admire their creativity, passion and activism.

What advice would you give to students embarking on Translation Studies?

It’s perhaps a cliché, but you have to love what you do and work hard. Both will give you to strength to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks and challenges. And things are more likely to work out to your satisfaction in the long run. This was some of the best advice I got from one of my professors.

You also have to embrace new, unexpected and unfamiliar experiences. They will invariably enrich your lifeworld.