Professors Receive Awards for Translation of 16th Century Theatre and Poetry

Drs. Brandie R Siegfried and Valerie Hegstrom received awards for their work in translation from 16th century works in theatre and poetry from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender.

The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender (SSEMWG) recently awarded two BYU professors, Dr. Brandie R Siegfried and Dr. Valerie Hegstrom. Dr. Siegfried of the English Department won the Josephine Roberts Award for the best scholarly edition on women and gender in 2018. Dr. Siegfried had long researched Margaret Cavendish’s work specifically as an author and poet, although the late 16th century Duchess explored other academic pursuits in the sciences as well. To her surprise, Dr. Siegfried found through her research that editions of Cavendish’s poetry remained underdeveloped. This eventually led her to produce a new edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies.

SSEMWG had this to say regarding her work:“Our committee chose your work because your skilled editing brings to light the important and singular literary and philosophical voice of Margaret Cavendish through erudite and thorough contextualization of Margaret Cavendish’s diverse intellectual interests and reading in the natural sciences, literature, classics, mathematics, and philosophy. Your edition makes the most complex aspects of Cavendish’s writings—such as her “atomic” theories—accessible to the modern reader.”

Dr. Valerie Hegstrom, coordinator of the Global Women’s Studies Department and professor of Spanish and Portuguese, also won an award from the SSEMWG for her work in the translation of 16th century Spanish playwright Ángelade Azevedo’s play, El muerto de similado —or Presumed Dead.

Although now reaping the rewards of her hard work, Hegstrom recalled that the road she took to eventually receive the award had been a long one. In the 90’s, she traveled to Madrid in hopes of finding unknown female authors from the Renaissance era whom she could study. “No one was talking about women from Spain back then,” Hegstrom noted. Upon returning to the United States, Hegstrom did her best to develop a curriculum surrounding the play and in 2004, introduced the play to her Spanish theater class. Throughout the years, the group took the play on tour throughout Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, and even going as far as Texas. Then, as 2016 rolled around, Professor Hegstrom and her research partner Katherine Larson from the University of Indiana decided that it was time to produce a new edition of the play, one fully translated to English. Hegstrom, with advanced Spanish and Portuguese language skills, proved well suited for the job as de Azevedo had originally written the play in Spanish, but was herself of Portuguese origin and had set the play in Lisbon. This allowed Hegstrom to find and make note of Portuguese words, idioms and locations in the play that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. On her experience with the translation process, Dr. Hegstrom said, “Even though it was a couple of years ago now, it really was wonderful being able to view the play through both Spanish and Portuguese lenses…that really helped with the translation.”

Zander Smith (English, ’20)