Janice A. Jaffe

Research Associate in Latin American Studies

After earning tenure at Bowdoin in 1995, introducing community engagement courses into the Romance Languages curriculum, and, as chair of the department overseeing a curriculum review to emphasize cultural studies and creating a tenure-track position in Italian Studies, Professor Jaffe took a hiatus to pursue her passion for language access in immigrant and refugee communities.  She became a National Board certified medical interpreter, court interpreter, and interpreter trainer in Maine teaching interpreting skills and ethics to hundreds of New Mainers from Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. 

During her tenure as Associate Director of Bowdoin’s McKeen Center for the Common Good she mentored faculty on public engagement, oversaw student community engagement fellowships, and organized the college’s first public health symposium.

Back in the classroom since 2015, Professor Jaffe’s scholarly work focuses on translation and interpreting theory and practice. Her translations have appeared recently in The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History, Latino Voices in New England, and Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas, and she has published on translation politics and practice in the Latin American Literary Review. She is currently translating Spanish writer Rosa Montero’s La ridícula idea de no volver a verte. 

Deeply committed to issues of language access and reducing disparities for new Americans, Professor Jaffe conducts research on best practices in working with interpreters together with a multidisciplinary team of colleagues from Harvard’s certificate program in Refugee Trauma and Recovery. She is a member of the Maine Judicial Branch LEP Advisory Committee, and board member and director of interpreting for Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic.


  • Graduate Certificate, Global Mental Health: Refugee Trauma and Recovery, Harvard University
  • PhD, Comparative Literature, Minor in Spanish, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • MA, Spanish, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Madrid Junior Year Abroad, Middlebury College
  • BA, Spanish, with Honors, University of the South