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Nina Stular works on translation project

Project ‘shows that at DePauw teaching and scholarship come together in mutually enriching ways’

A DePauw student has translated an 18th-century collection of English letters into her native Slovenian language and is seeking a publisher to make “The Turkish Embassy Letters” available to Slovenian readers for the first time ever.

Nina Štular ’22, an honor scholar who double majors in philosophy and English, worked over the summer with David Alvarez, an associate professor of English, on a student-faculty research project. They spoke via Zoom three times a week.

The plan was for Štular to translate 10 letters over 10 weeks, but she ended up translating all 52 letters that were written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and published in the volume.

The project emanated from a class Štular took last spring with Alvarez. Montagu, Štular wrote in the introduction of her translation, was “one of the first women to write about her travels to the Ottoman Empire, one of the first Europeans to gain access to female-only spaces in the Levant, and one of the first to compare the cultures of the East and West on such topics as childbirth, fashion, and marital customs. Her infectious curiosity, sharp wit, and irony-drenched humor allow her to truthfully present and honestly evaluate the cultures that she encounters.”

Štular said in an email that she had never heard of Montagu before taking Alvarez’s class but “was charmed by Lady Mary’s writing style and surprised as to how relevant the work seemed to me as a Slovenian; Lady Mary writes about places and cultures in close geographical proximity to Slovenia and brings to life all the dry facts about 18th-century Europe and the Ottoman empire that I've learned in my childhood history classes.


At DePauw, teaching and scholarship come together in mutually enriching ways.
– David Alvarez

“When I recommended the work to my mother, I discovered that there is no Slovenian translation of it. It seemed such a shame that such a historically rich and thought-provoking work would be inaccessible to Slovenian readers in their mother tongue.” She is corresponding with an acquaintance who is a published author in hopes that the acquaintance can connect her with a Slovenian publisher willing to change that.

Štular returned to Slovenia in June but plans to return to DePauw in fall 2021 for her senior year. In the meantime, she will study philosophy and literature at Mansfield College’s Visiting Student Programme at the University of Oxford.

Alvarez, who has studied Montagu, is researching her further during a two-month fellowship this fall at the Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. He will her understanding of religion “shapes how she writes and thinks about her experience with cultural, religious, and racial differences in central Europe and the Ottoman Empire. In many ways, she uses religion as a way to bridge such differences.”

Alvarez then will spend his sabbatical from DePauw at the University of Regensburg, where he will research, write and teach a graduate seminar on literature and religious toleration in the English Enlightenment. 

The student-faculty research project “shows that at DePauw teaching and scholarship come together in mutually enriching ways,” Alvarez said. “It's a combination that also creates unique intellectual opportunities for our students. Working with Nina on a Slovenian translation of the letters was also a great way for me to dig deeply into them before beginning my fellowship at (the interdisciplinary centre). And all this work will support how I teach and discuss ‘The Turkish Embassy Letters’ with my students in future courses.”

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