Ursula Deser Friedman

Ursula Deser Friedman

Specialization: Contemporary Chinese/Taiwanese/Latin American Literature and Translation Studies


Curriculum Vitae: Download


Self-translation, whereby an author of an original work translates their own writings into another language, entails balancing tripartite fidelity to the source text with readability in the target language and the self-translator’s own artistic license. My research contextualizes self-translation under the framework of global diaspora politics, situating self-translators as cosmopolitan diasporic subjects on a queer isthmus bridging and unsettling the assumed dichotomies between author and translator, source and target text, center and periphery, creative writing and translation.

By examining the ways in which Ha Jin (哈金, pen name for Xuefei Jin 金雪飞, b. 1956, born in mainland China and self-exiled in the United States), Pai Hsien-yung (白先勇, b. 1937, who moved to Taiwan from China and finally to the United States), Regina Kanyu Wang (王侃瑜, b. 1990, born in mainland China and migrated to Oslo), and Rosario Ferré Ramírez de Arrellano (1938-2016, born in Puerto Rico and migrated to the United States for graduate school) queer (i.e., augment, subvert and deconstruct their own source texts) through selective acts of “creative subversion”, my dissertation posits (self-)translation as a creative process of (re)-writing that destabilizes hierarchical models that conceptualize translators and translated texts as derivative offshoots of the source text author and translated text.

These self-exiled modernist writers all use self-translation as a cathartic means to navigate the shared experience of exile, which destabilizes monolithic accounts of the nation, self and text. By examining exile as a thematic commonality between self-translators hailing from the Sinosphere and Latinosphere, I emphasize the transnational coherence of self-translation as a healing, cathartic process in a comparative literary setting. Taking self-translation as a method for examining China’s place in the world, I consider self-translation as a self-healing technology and the Sinophone/Latinophone as a diversified mode of reading that positions the Self as a hybrid, cosmopolitan subject that forms its identity in dialogue with a foreign language and culture.


Chair: Dr. Hangping Xu

Committee Members: Dr. Dominique Jullien, Dr. Xiaorong Li


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Barbara, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies (09/2019-present)
  • Master of Arts, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Chinese-English Simultaneous Interpretation (09/2015-06/2017)
  • Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies, Oberlin College, Department of East Asian Studies (09-2010-01/2014)
  • Associated Colleges in China (ACC), Minzu University of China, Affiliated with Hamilton College (09/2011-12/2012, 2013)


  • Reader for CHIN 144: Women Writers of Late Imperial China (Fall 2021, Prof. Xiaorong Li)
  • Teaching Assistant for EACS/RGST 21 (Fall 2021, Prof. Gregory Hillis)
  • 2020-2021 Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) Graduate Teaching Fellow, Foundations in the Humanities Prison Correspondence Program. (Supervisors: Dr. Susan Derwin, Dr. Adam Morrison)
  • Teaching Assistant for CLIT 31: Chinese Love Stories (Spring 2021, Prof. Xiaorong Li)
  • Teaching Assistant for EACS 4A: East Asian Traditions—Pre-modern(Winter 2021 and 2022, Prof. Xiaorong Li and Prof. William Fleming)
  • Instructor, Foundations in the Humanities—Prison Correspondence Program (UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, Prof. Susan Derwin, Dr. Adam Morrison)
  • Teaching Assistant for CHIN 80: Masterpieces in Chinese Literature (Fall 2020, Summer 2021 Session A, Prof. Thomas Mazanec)
  • GO Project, Family Engagement Associate (July-August 2020): Conducting family outreach in Mandarin for 200 K-8 student families; interpreting from/into Mandarin for parent-teacher conferences; translating reading/math course syllabi and correspondence emails into Mandarin
  • Teaching Assistant for EACS 4B: East Asian Traditions—Modern(Spring 2020, Profs. Xiaowei Zheng and Sabine Frühstück; Spring 2022,Profs. Sabine Früstück and Hangping Xu)
  • Teaching Assistant for CHIN 2: Elementary Modern Chinese (Winter 2020, Prof. Daoxiong Guan)
  • Teaching Assistant for CHIN 1: Elementary Modern Chinese (Fall 2019, Prof. Daoxiong Guan)
  • Chinese-English Translation and Interpretation Instructor, Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Beijing Foreign Studies University (09/2017-09/2019)
  • Oberlin Shansi Fellow to Beijing Normal University (09/2014-07/2015)





  • Yao Bin (姚斌) and Ursula Deser Friedman. “中文社科文献外译的挑战、对策与建议:以《20世纪中国古代文化经典在域外的传播与影响研究》为例” (Challenges, Solutions, and Suggestions for Translating Chinese Social Science Texts: A Case Study of The Influence of Ancient Chinese Cultural Classics Abroad in the Twentieth Century). Chinese Translators Journal (中国翻译) vol. 29 no. 2, pp. 149-156.
  • Yao Bin (姚斌) and Ursula Deser Friedman. “会议发言中‘前言’和‘结语’的汉英口译策略” (Strategies for Translating Opening and Closing Remarks in Conference Speeches). Horizon (视野), August 2020: 65-68.
  • Zeng Jianing (曾佳宁) and Ursula Deser Friedman. 浅谈茶“韵”一字多译 (Translations of Yun as Pertaining to Chinese Tea Culture). 英语学习 (English Language Learning), ISSN: 1002-5553, November 2019, pp. 43-44.


  • Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (Boulder, Colorado, October 14-16, 2021). Panel: Asian Comparative Literature and Film. Session I: Crossing Borders in Modern Chinese Literary and Visual Culture. Chair: Géraldine Fiss, University of Southern California. Paper: “From Traduttore, Traditore to Traduttore, Creatore—Creative Subversion in Chinese and Taiwanese Literary Self-Translation.”
  • American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), 2021 Virtual Conference (April 8-11, 2021). Section 2. Panel: SF in/of China. Chair: Hua Li. Paper entitled “A Creative Revisioning of Hao Jingfang’s Shengsi Yu (Limbo).”
  • Graduate Center for Literary Research Virtual Roundtable (University of California, Santa Barbara, May 15, 2020). Moderator: Christene D’Anca, University of California, Santa Barbara. Paper entitled “From Traduttore, Traditore to Traduttore, Creatore—A Case-Based Analysis of (In-)fidelity in Chinese and Taiwanese Literary Self-Translation.”
  • Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture-Annual Graduate Student Symposium (CSLC): The End(s) of Translation (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, March 6, 2020; Panel: Beyond Fidelity: (Re)Imagining Translation Theory in 2020); Paper entitled “From Traduttore, Traditore to Traduttore, Creatore—A Case-Based Analysis of Infidelity in Literary Self-Translation.”
  • Forum on International Research on Translation and Interpretation (East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China, June 14-18, 2018). Paper: “Breathing Life into English Translation: Case Studies of Student Mandarin-English Translations of the text ‘Tie Guan Yin: A Sip of Auld Lang Syne (铁观音里的古早滋味)’.”
  • Symposium on Translation Practice and Pedagogy in the New Age; Simulated Multilingual Simultaneous Interpretation Conference and Translation Pedagogy Observation/新时代翻译实践与翻译教育学术研讨会暨多语种模拟国际会议同传和翻译教学观摩活动 (Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, China, Dec 1-3, 2018); Paper (Friedman, Ursula D. Wang Suyang, Zeng Jianing) entitled Exploring Innovative Teaching Models for Cultivating High-Caliber Translators (高端笔译人才创新教学模式探讨).
  • 49th International Symposium on Basic Education/第49届海内外基础教育研讨会 (Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, Fujian, Jul 24-29, 2013); Paper entitled “Rewards and Reinforcement Teaching Methods” (美国教师如何运用激励式教育).
  • 48th International Symposium on Basic Education (Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang, Guizhou, Jul 24-30, 2012);Paper entitled “American Dual Language Immersion Programs: Theory and Application” (美国的沉浸式双语教学–理论与实践).


  • English (native speaker), Mandarin Chinese (near-native fluency), Spanish (near-native fluency), Japanese (conversational)


  • Center for Taiwan Studies Graduate Research Grant (June 2021, $6,000 grant for dissertation project)
  • UCSB Confucius Institute, China Studies Ph.D. Student Dissertation Award (May 2021, $5,000 grant for dissertation research)
  • Member, Student Advisory Board, Graduate Center for Literary Research, UCSB
  • Graduate Certificate of Excellence in a Translation Workshop, awarded by Dominique Jullien (05/18/2020)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, Graduate Center for Literary Research, 2019-2020 Recruitment Fellow
  • Adjudication Panel Member, 31st Han Suyin International Translation Competition, Chinese-English Category (05-10/2019)
  • Second Place, Chinese-English Category, 30th Han Suyin International Translation Competition (10/16/2018)
  • Exemplary Graduate Thesis Prize, Beijing Foreign Studies University (06/2017)
  • Beijing Government Tuition Scholarship (09/2015-07/2016)
  • Margaret Ribovich DiCenzo Prize for Academic Excellence in East Asian Studies (01/2014)
  • Fulbright-Hays GPA Scholarship, Associated Colleges in China at Minzu University (09/2011-12/2012, 2013)