The Global Humanities Translation Prize

Funded by the Global Humanities Initiative, Northwestern University


Northwestern University's Global Humanities Initiative and Northwestern University Press are pleased to announce the third annual Global Humanities Translation Prize competition. Selected annually by a rotating committee of distinguished international scholars, writers, and public intellectuals, winning translators will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Northwestern University Press will publish the selected work.

The inaugural winners in 2016 were Jason Grunebaum and Ulrike Stark, for their proposed translation of Manzoor Ahtesham’s The Tale of the Missing Man from modern Hindi, and Carl Ernst for his translation and annotated edition of the classical Arabic poems of the mystic Mansur al-Hallaj, Hallaj: Poems of a Sufi Martyr.  Both titles will appear in Northwestern University Press trade editions later this summer.  The second annual winner in 2017, Lawrence Venuti, has translated Catalan poet J. V. Foix's Daybook 1918: Early Fragments, for an edition that will also be released in the coming months.

The Global Humanities Translation Prize seeks to recognize work that strikes a nuanced balance between scholarly rigor, aesthetic grace, and general readability, especially those that introduce a wider audience to:

• underrepresented and experimental literary voices from marginalized communities
• humanistic scholarship in infrequently translated languages
• important classical texts in non-Western traditions and languages

The Global Humanities Initiative (supported jointly by the university's Buffett Institute for Global Studies and Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities) was cofounded in the fall of 2015 by Laura Brueck, an associate professor of Indian literature in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and Rajeev Kinra, an associate professor in the Department of History at Northwestern. “Our goal is to bring much-needed attention not only to the rich humanistic and artistic traditions of the non-West, but also to the relevance of those traditions for global development and public policy,” say Brueck and Kinra. “It places Northwestern University at the center of a vital international conversation about the continuing role of the humanities in building a more just, tolerant, and humane twenty-first century.”

The winner will receive a total cash prize of $5,000 ($1,000 at the time of the initial award, followed by $4,000 upon completion of the project), as well as a commitment from Northwestern University Press to publish the finished work. The work submitted for consideration may not be under contract elsewhere.

To enter the competition, please submit a dossier that includes the following:

  • A proposal (7-10 pp) that describes or summarizes the work to be translated, and explicates its larger literary, historical, and scholarly significance.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A sample of the proposed translation along with corresponding text in the original (no longer than 30 pages).
  • A specific timeline for completion. Applicants should be aware that the complete translated manuscript must be submitted for publication nine months after the prize recipient is selected.
  • The names of up to three references (who will be contacted if necessary).
  • The rights status of the work, whether privately held or in the public domain. If the work is not in the public domain, then the name of the rights holder of the work, as well as full bibliographic detail of the original work’s most recent publication.
  • The titles and publishers of any current competing editions.

Interested translators may apply through September 1, 2018. For submission instructions, applicants may visit the Global Humanities Initiative website or write

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How long should my proposal be?

A: The proposal should be no longer than seven to ten pages. Sections include a description of the work and its relevance, timeline to completion, audience for the work, and rights status. The suggested length does not include the CV or translation sample.


Q: How do I know if the work I want to translate is in the public domain?

A: A helpful resource for determining if material is in the public domain is available here:


Q: How do I determine who holds rights for a work that is not in the public domain?

A: Look at the copyright page for the original language edition. The publisher of record can be directly emailed to inquire if they continue to hold the rights. Verifying the rights holder is all that is needed for the application. If the publisher is no longer in existence, a modest amount of internet searching can determine who bought them out and who may hold the rights now. We do not expect the proposed translator to secure rights, but the current rights status is crucial information to determine if the work can be published.


Q: What if my translation will take longer than the proposed timeline to complete?

A: The timeline to completion section of the proposal should be as accurate as you can anticipate. Projects that have strong merit but cannot be completed in the time frame may be invited back for consideration in future years of the competition.


Q: How long will it take to know if the proposal has been selected as the winner?

A: The committee will take up to twelve weeks from the final application deadline of August 1 to notify the winner and those who were shortlisted.


If you have any further questions, please send them to