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Translating Visual Culture

with Zack Davisson and Erica Mena
February 9th, 2017
11:45 AM


Thursday, February 9, 2017

11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chem 011)

Light lunch served.

As writer Modesta di Paola states, “translation is the paradigm of mediation, not only from one language to another but also from one culture to another.” Translators of media such as comics and graphic novels, which combine alphabetic text and graphics, become mediators not just of the written word, but also of visual cultures.

Zach Davisson and Erica Mena will talk about what drew them to this challenging task, will share examples of the work they have done, and will explore some of the commonalities and differences in translating alphabetic text works and translating comics and graphic novels. 

After a brief introduction, each speaker will present for about 15 minutes and then we will invite students to respond and ask questions. Finally, we will open the conversation up to questions from the wider audience.

This event is organized by Joan Munné and Melissa Simmermeyer and has been made possible with the support of Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Mary D.B.T. and J.H. Semans International Exchange Fund, Dean of the Humanities, the Department of Romance Studies, Trinity Language Committee, and Community-Based Teaching and Learning Funds

For more information, visit the Translating Spanish-English and English-Spanish site


Zack Davisson

Zack Davisson is an award winning translator, writer, and folklorist. He is the author of Yurei: The Japanese Ghost from Chin Music Press, and contributor to Wayward from Image comics. He contributed to exhibitions at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam and Henry Art Museum, has been featured on NPR and in The New York Times, and has written articles for Weird Tales Magazine, Japanzine, Metropolis, Kansai Time-Out, The Comics Journal, and Electric Literature. 

As a translator, Davisson was nominated for the 2014 Japanese-US Friendship Commission Translation Prize for his translation of the Eisner Award winning Showa: A History of Japan. For Drawn and Quarterly, Davisson translates and curates the famous folklore comic Kitaro. For Dark Horse, he translates Satoshi Kon's work, including Opus: Seraphim: 26661336 Wings, and The Art of Satoshi Kon, and for Kodansha he translates Leiji Matsumoto’s acclaimed Queen Emeraldas

He was a researcher and on-screen talent for National Geographic's TV special Okinawa: The Lost Ghosts of Japan and maintains the popular Japanese folklore website He resides in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Miyuki, dog Mochi, cats Bagheera and Sheer Khan, and several ghosts.

Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a poet, translator, and book artist. She holds an MFA in poetry from Brown University, and an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa. Her book Featherbone (Ricochet Editions, 2015) won a 2016 Hoffer First Horizons Award. Her translation of the Argentine graphic novel The Eternaut by H.G. Oesterheld and F. Solano Lopez (Fantagraphics, 2015) won a 2016 Eisner Award. She is the editor in chief of Drunken Boat, and the founding editor of Anomalous Press. Puerto Rican by descent, she was born and raised in Boston, and now lives between Providence, RI and San Francisco, CA with three cats, one husband, and a growing collection of imaginary beings. You can find her online at

Her original poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in PANKThe Kenyon ReviewVanitas, the Dos Passos Review, Pressed Wafer, and Arrowsmith Press. Her translations have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Two Lines, Asymptote, PEN America, and Words without Borders, among others. She was the executive director of the American Literary Translators Association from 2014-2016.