Liesl Yamaguchi

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Liesl YamaguchiEmail:

Periods: 19th-20th century

Languages: French, Finnish, German

Research Interests: Modernist poetics, linguistics, translation, small-language literatures

Liesl Yamaguchi is currently completing a dissertation on colored hearing, tracing its passage from the sounds of music to the elements of language through texts by Helmholtz, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, and Saussure. After two years in residence at Paris’s École normale supérieure, she will be returning to Princeton this fall to co-teach a new course entitled “Great Books From Little Languages.” Co-founder of Inventory, Princeton’s journal of literary translation, Liesl is also an active translator from Finnish and French; her translations of Fernand Léger and Blaise Cendrars appeared in the award-winning Fernand Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis (Yale UP, 2013), and her translation of Väinö Linna's Finnish novel Unknown Soldiers recently appeared with Penguin Classics (2015).

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

“«Nubiles plis l’astre mûri des lendemains» : Mallarmé’s Verlaine” French Studies Bulletin 37:140 (Autumn 2016), 68-70.

“Mallarmé and the Tension of Timbre,” Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics IX.3 (2015), 111-139.


Ideographic Modernism by Christopher Bush," Comparative Literature 65.2 (Spring 2013), 251-3. Book Review.


Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna (London: Penguin Classics, 2015). Translator from the Finnish.

“Mallarmé Perchance” by Jean-Claude Milner, Hyperion on the Future of Aesthetics IX.3 (2015), pp. 87-110. Translator from the French.

Fernand Léger and the Modern City ed. by Anna Vallye (New Haven: Yale UP, 2013). Translator of twelve essays from the French. *Winner of the 2014 Dedalus Foundation Exhibition Catalogue Award

Selected Fellowships and Awards:

PIIRS Summer Research Grant, Princeton University, 2016

Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Fellowship, Princeton University, 2014-2015

Erich Kahler Summer Fellowship, Princeton University, Summer 2014

American Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship, 2012-2013

DAAD Summer Language Study Grant, Summer 2011

U.S. Student Fulbright Grant, U.S. Department of State, 2006-2007


Instructor, Princeton University, 2016. Course (BA-level):

  • COM 351 Great Books from Little Languages (co-taught with David Bellos)

Instructor, École normale supérieure (Paris, France), 2016. Course (CEFR levels A1-A2):

  • Introductory French language (Programme étudiant.e invité.e)

University Lecturer, University of Tampere (Finland), 2014-2015. Courses (MA-level):

  • MVKS36 Theoretical Approaches to Literary Translation
  • MVKS33 Translating Finnish Literature into English
  • ENGS6-13 Musical Tongues: What Makes Language Musical?

Preceptor, Princeton University, 2010-2011. Courses (BA-level):

  • ENG 205 Reading Poetry
  • COM 209/TRA 200 Thinking Translation

Selected Talks:

“Nothing But Nuance: Paul Verlaine’s Vowels,” Princeton Department of French and Italian Graduate Conference, October 14, 2016.

“Agamben’s Idea of Translation,” CUNY Conference on Critical Theory, May 5, 2016.

“On the Emergence of Linguistic Colored Hearing,” Harvard University Institute for World Literature at the University of Lisbon, June 22, 2015.

“Esittelyssä Unknown Soldiers” [Introducing Unknown Soldiers], Universities of Tampere and Helsinki (invited lectures, in Finnish), May 27 and 28, 2015.

“René Char and the specter of synonymy,” Rene Char: Poetry and War Colloquium, Princeton University (invited talk), February 28, 2015.

“Mallarmé and the question of timbre,” Colour in Literature Workshop der Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule für literaturwissenschaftliche Studien, Freie Universität Berlin, February 14, 2015.

“The Proper Tone: Sounding out vowels in Hermann von Helmholtz's Tonempfindungen,” Works-in-Progress Lecture Series, Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University, October 21 2014.

“Playing by Ear: Translating Väinö Linna’s Unknown Soldiers,” Program in Translation and International Communication, Princeton University (invited lecture), October 20, 2014.

Media Coverage:

Helsingin Sanomat Sunday feature on Unknown Soldiers (text in Finnish, video in Finnish and English)

Asymptote book review of Unknown Soldiers (in English)

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