Ursula Deser Friedman

Ursula Deser Friedman

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

Office Hours: Monday 11:00am-12:00pm
Office Hours Time Period: Winter 2023


Curriculum Vitae: Download


Self-translation, which occurs when the author of an original work either simultaneously, consecutively, or transpicuously (co-)translates their own text(s) into another language and/or medium (i.e., page-to-stage, short story to novel, English to Chinese), entails balancing tripartite fidelity to the source text with readability in the target language and the self-translator’s own artistic license. Harnessing a hybridized, multicultural aesthetics, self-translators erode binaries between creative writing and translation, author and translator, source and target text. Self-translators forge interstitial transwriting zones bridging languages, temporalities, and cultures, reconciling the traumas of war, exile, and political repression through achieving a critical distance from their own work.

By examining the ways in which the (self-)exiled Sinophone authors Pai Hsien-yung (白先勇, b. 1937), Ha Jin (哈金, pen name for Xuefei Jin 金雪飞, b. 1956), Eileen Chang (张爱玲, b. 1920), and Regina Kanyu Wang Wang  (王侃瑜, b. 1990) defamiliarize their own texts and memories through reader-enabled catharsis, I envision self-translation as a trauma reconciliation technology that (re-)inscribes national trauma narratives under individual affective structures, and vice-versa. These authors’ creative processes of self-transmediation, spanning multiple decades, languages, genres, and mediums, reveals self-translation as a hermeneutic process of cultural transcreation in which the source text is not taken as a fixed and irreducible invariant, but rather yields diverse, shifting, and often conflicting interpretations.

These authors’ self-translation practices are multi-tiered: 1. translating memory and prototypes into the written word; 2. re-writing between Chinese and English; 3. adapting literary works across genres and mediums (novel, film, stage play, etc.). Dwelling in the fluid borderlands between languages and cultures, exiled self-translators “keep the score” for the contemporary global community as they process personal and national trauma through linguistic and psychological defamiliarization techniques.


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)


  • Teaching Assistant for CHIN 82: Modern Chinese Literature (Winter 2023, Prof. Hangping Xu)
  • 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.


  • American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), 2023 (Sheraton Grand Riverwalk, Chicago IL, Friday, March 17, 2023). Seminar: The Politics of Reading and Writing in Chinese and Sinophone Literature. Chair: Cara Healey. Paper entitled: “From Page to Screen to Stage: Pai Hsien-yung’s Half-Century of Creative Self-Transmediations.”
  • American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), 2022 Online Conference (Friday, June 17, 2022). Section 1. Panel: Multiculturalism, Literature and Translation in East Asia. Chair: Lin Tzu-Yu. Paper entitled “Queering the Sinosphere: Case Studies of Chinese-English Literary Self-Translation.”
  • 2022 Stanford-Berkeley Graduate Student Conference in Premodern Chinese Humanities (Stanford University, April 1-2, 2022). Paper Title: “Revolutionizing the Tanci Genre: A Case Study of Qiu Jin’s Pebbles of the Jingwei Bird.”
  • Graduate Center for Literary Research Roundtable. (University of California, Santa Barbara, February 28, 2022). Moderator: Rachel Feldman, University of California, Santa Barbara. Paper entitled: “Transnational Self-Subverters:    Queering Text and Authorship across the Sinosphere.”
  • The CU Boulder Asian Studies Graduate Association (CUBASGA), 2022 Annual Meeting (Online, February 19-20, 2022). Panel 3B: The Dynamics of Authorial Intentions and Social Receptions. Chair: Benjamin Bond, University of Colorado,   Boulder. Paper Title: “Queering the Sinosphere: Case Studies of Chinese-English Literary Self-Translation.”
  • 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)