Cotter, Sean

Associate Professor

Office:  JO 5.106

Areas of Specialization:  Translation Studies, International Modernism, Romanian Literature.

Education: PhD, University of Michigan, 2004
MA, University of Texas at Dallas, 1998
BA, Loyola University, New Orleans, 1993

Professor Cotter focuses on Romanian literature, because he is interested in the literature of international cultural exchange. Contemporary Romanian works reflect intense experiences of globalized literary culture, often more clearly than those of writers from larger nations. By incorporating this context into English versions, his translations become literary responses to Romania's new international context. His translation work is informed by his background in Modernism, which he studies as the beginning of a mode of international thinking that made the discipline of Translation Studies possible. His current critical book, Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania, studies translators and national imagination following the imposition of Communist rule by the Soviet Union after World War Two.

Professor Cotter teaches a range of subjects, such as East European Literature, International Modernisms, critical approaches to translation, and undergraduate and graduate translation workshops. Translation Studies informs his teaching, beyond his translation offerings, in the ways he highlights transcultural aspects of literary works, for example, the conflict of Christian and classical traditions in Augustine's Confessions, the Iberian Arab and Jewish influences on troubadour poetry, or the international reception of Don Quixote. His graduate seminars focus on international influences and transnational creations, including the Soviet imposition of socialist realism on the literatures of Eastern Europe, or multilingual movements such as, Negritude, Futurism and Dada.



PEN/Heim Translation Fund

Three Percent Best Translated Book Award for Poetry

National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship

Extraordinary Contributions to the Promotion of Romanian Literature through Translation, from the Institute for Romanian Culture

Fulbright-Hays Research Grant

PEN Southwest Book Award for Translation

President Mihai Cimpoi Award of the Moldovan Writers' Union

Harry C. Routledge Prize of the Southern Comparative Literature Association



Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania. University of Rochester Press, forthcoming.

A Man Between: Michael Henry Heim, a Life in Translation. Edited by Esther Allen, Sean Cotter, and Russell Valentino. Open Letter Books, forthcoming.


Articles and Chapters

“Rainer Maria Rilke in Lucian Blaga’s Translations from English.” Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception. Ed.Brian Nelson and Brigid Maher (Routledge, 2013).

"Romania as Europe's Translator: Translation in Constantin Noica's National Imagination." Contexts, Subtexts, and Pretexts: Literary Translation in Eastern Europe and Russia. Ed. Brian James Baer (John Benjamins, 2011) 79 - 95.

"East-Central European Literatures Twenty Years After." East European Politics and Societies 23:4 (2009) 552-81. Co-authored article, edited by Michael Heim.

"The Soviet Translation: Romanian Literary Translators after World War Two." Meta: Journal des traducteurs 53:4 (2008) 841-859. 

"Translated Eliot: Lucian Blaga's Strategy for Cultural Survival and the Soviet Colonization of Romania." The International Reception of T. S. Eliot. Ed. Elisabeth Däumer and Shyamal Bagchee (Continuum, 2007) 55-68. 

"The Sacramental Dada of T. S. Eliot," The Comparatist 26 (May 2002) 69-82.

"The Translation of War: Italian Futurism in Ezra Pound's Cathay." Mantis 1:2 (2002) 152-67.



Blinding, Left Wing. By Mircea C?rt?rescu. From Romanian. Brooklyn: Archipelago Books, 2013.

Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems. By Nichita St?nescu. From Romanian. Brooklyn: Archipelago Books, 2012.

  • Winner: Three Percent Best Translated Book Award for poetry (2013)
  • World Literature Today 2013 Notable Translation


Lightwall. By Liliana Ursu. From Romanian. Boston: Zephyr Press, 2009.
  • Winner: PEN Southwest Book Award for Translation (2009)
  • Finalist: PEN USA Literary Award for Translation (2010) 
  • Finalist: Three Percent Best Translated Book Award (2010)


Balkan Aphrodite. By Nicolae Tzone. From Romanian. Translated by Sean Cotter and Ioana Ieronim. Bucharest: Editura Vinea, 2006.

Goldsmith Market. By Liliana Ursu. From Romanian. Boston: Zephyr Press, 2003.

Second-Hand Souls: Selected Writings. By Nichita Danilov. From Romanian. Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2003.

Singular Destinies: Contemporary Poets from Bessarabia. From Romanian. Translated and edited by Sean Cotter, Adam J. Sorkin, and Cristina Cîrstea. Chisinau, Moldavia: Editura Cartier, 2003.

  • Winner: President Mihai Cimpoi Award of the Moldovan Writers' Union


Dinner at the Table of Silence: Writers from Gorj. From Romanian. Translated and edited by Sean Cotter and Liliana Ursu. Cluj, Romania: Editura Clusium, 2002.

Essays and translations in many journals, in the United States and Romania, including: Massachusetts Review, Conjunctions, Pleiades, AGNI Online, România literar?, 22, Observator cultural, Translation Review, Kenning, Hayden's Ferry Review.