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Prof. Jane Todd [French 1987–90]

February 2, 2021, in Portland.

Prof. Todd was born in San Francisco and lived with her family in Millbrae, California, until she went away to Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Having skipped a grade, she graduated from high school when she was 17. During high school, she developed a lifelong interest in French literature and language, which intensified following a summer program at UC Santa Cruz and two study abroad programs during her college years.

She earned her PhD in comparative literature from the University of Oregon and taught French and women’s studies at Reed and the University of Oregon. Todd then started her own translation business, Foremost Translation, and translated more than 90 books and hundreds of shorter texts for university and trade presses and art museums. She was twice awarded the French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize. She was the author of Autobiographics in Freud and Derrida and was at work on a study of Marcel Proust.

In explaining why translation matters, Jane wrote that “translation is a first step toward civilization” because “it forms bridges across borders rather than walls along them.” 

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2021

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