Found in Translation: The Practice of Translating Literature - ENG00093H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nicoletta Asciuto
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

The English phrase “lost in translation”, popularized by Sofia Coppola’s 2013 film, is symptomatic of the issues one faces when dealing with more than one language in a conversation, whether written or verbal. We could also take this phrase to be telling of a certain attitude towards translation, as in the Anglophone world, a relatively low number of books are translated from other languages into English. While we increasingly eat, wear, travel and communicate globally, we seem to read more and more locally. This module teaches you how to flip the famous English phrase from one conveying confusion and misunderstanding to one where, while much may be lost, much is found and gained too. The module will improve your abilities not only as a reader of foreign literature, but also as a creative writer in English.      

The module is structured around key issues in translation theory and practice, with direct reference to the translation of literary texts. Every week you will have a seminar where we discuss theoretical and creative approaches to literary translation and a workshop where you will be preparing your own translation portfolio, to be submitted at the end of the module. In these workshops, we will be discussing translation issues and sharing translation strategies on how to best render the culturally and linguistically specific phrases in your source texts. By the end of this module you will have become a more attentive close reader of literature (both in English and in other languages) and you will have a clearer sense of the questions at stake when rendering foreign literature into English.

The assessment for this module will consist in a portfolio of translations (3,000 words) with a short introduction and commentary or apparatus of notes. You will translate a literary text of your choice (prose, poetry, drama) from a language of your choice into English. You do not need to be fluent in a foreign language in order to take this module, but you do need to have a basic command of the language you would like to translate from, alongside an interest in that language and culture, and a readiness to consult dictionaries and grammar books for your translation. Wherever possible, you are encouraged to translate a text not previously translated into English. If you are translating a text where one or more English translations already exist, you will be asked to comment on the necessity of a new translation for this text.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

This module will:

  • explore key issues in the history of literary translation (both theory and practice);
  • support your production of a body of original translations in response to theoretical reading;
  • improve your understanding of literary translation as a creative practice;
  • relate a critical understanding of trends in translation theory and practice to your own creative approaches to translation.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with key issues in translation theory and the contemporary practice of literary translators.
  2. Evaluate key debates within translation theory, history, and practice.
  3. Produce a body of original work which demonstrates a critical engagement with translation theory and with translation practice in its editing process.
  4. Produce independent arguments and ideas which demonstrate an advanced proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
3500 word portfolio of translations
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

The assessment for this module will consist in a portfolio of translations (3,500 words) with a short introduction and commentary or apparatus of notes (1,000 words). You will translate a literary text of your choice (prose, poetry, drama) from a language of your choice into English. You do not need to be fluent in a foreign language in order to take this module, but you do need to have a basic command of the language you would like to translate from, alongside an interest in that language and culture, and a readiness to consult dictionaries and grammar books for your translation. Wherever possible, you are encouraged to translate a text not previously translated into English. If you are translating a text where one or more English translations already exist, you will be asked to comment on the necessity of a new translation for this text.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
3500 word portfolio of translations
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours  
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Literary Translation: Redrawing the Boundaries, ed. Jean Boase-Beier, Antoinette Fawcett, and Philip Wilson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Clive Scott, Literary Translation and the Rediscovery of Reading (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Emily Apter, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).

The Translator as Writer, ed. Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush (London: Continuum, 2006).

Theories of Translation:  An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida, ed. Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility:  A History of Translation (London: Routledge, 1995).



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.