Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Paul W. Kroll

Second Advisor

Antje Richter

Third Advisor

Valerio C. Ferme


In translation studies, one typically finds a dichotomy between fidelity and license: adherence to "meaning" or adherence to "style." Thus, scholarly translations of Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) Chinese poetry tend to focus on the semantic meaning of a poem to the neglect of its formal qualities, such as parallelism, rhyming, alliteration, assonance, and tonal variation. While this approach has done much to aid an historical understanding of Tang poetry, it fails to highlight a poet like Lĭ Duān, who emphasized technical brilliance over original sentiment or imagery. Invoking Friedrich Schleiermacher's foreignizing method of translation and Walter Benjamin's concept of translation as a text's afterlife, this thesis attempts to open up translation practices, arguing that "meaning" and "style" are not opposed to each other, and that while every translation must fail, the self-reflective translator will put forth a strategic failure. This thesis then employs historical reconstructions of Middle Chinese to discover that Lĭ Duān used alternative tonal patterns in several of his poems as means of disruption. Thereupon, experimental translations of these poems are offered, using the long and short vowels of accented syllables in English to represent the level (ping) and oblique (ze) tonal classes of Middle Chinese.