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FRE4015 : From Experimental to Explicit: Translating Women's Writing in French

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Pauline Henry-Tierney
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, the aims of this module are:

- to introduce students to different trends in (and examples of) contemporary French and Francophone women’s writing;
- to encourage critical thinking on the relationships between translation and contemporary women’s writing in French, particularly in relation to the dynamics between translation and gender; translation and sexuality; and translation and corporeality;
- to introduce the core theoretical concepts of gender-conscious approaches to translation such as feminist translation theory;
- to improve students’ skills in translating literary texts from French into English
- to develop an ability to analyse and evaluate specific translation strategies in their own and other translators’ work.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will expose students to a variety of exciting new and established contemporary French and Francophone women writers and the English translations of their texts. The comparative study of these source texts and their translations will be used to introduce students to the ever-growing body of theory in Translation Studies related to gender-conscious and feminist approaches to translation. As well as critically analysing existing translations of women’s writing in French, students will also have the opportunity to translate selected passages from the texts under study as well as examples from contemporary women’s writing in French which have yet to appear in English translation.

The module will broadly cover the following topics using a variety of different literary texts as well as academic articles:

- Trends in Post ’68 to Post-Millennial Women’s Writing in French

- The Evolution of Feminist Translation Theory

- Translating Experimental Feminist Writing in French

(works to be studied and/or translated may include excerpts from texts by Nicole Brossard, Madeleine Gagnon, Louky Bersianik, Barbara Godard and Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood)

- Translating (and retranslating) Theoretical Feminist Texts in French

(examples may include work by Simone de Beauvoir, Monique Wittig, Hélène Cixous and Virginie Despentes)

- Translating Transgressive Women’s Writing in French

(students will confront the challenges of translating transgressive topics such as explicit articulations of sexual experiences, graphic depictions of the female body, and transgenderism via writers such as Nelly Arcan, Nina Bouraoui and Catherine Millet)

- Autofiction and Paratextual Translation

(students will study paratexts such as front covers, blurbs and cover reviews in order to analyse the implications these paratranslated elements have for contemporary women writers of autofiction)

This course will be taught and assessed in English. Students will be required to read and translate from French source text material.

*NB - Part of this module will involve reading and translating transgressive texts which may be explicit in terms of content and theme (i.e. graphic representations of sex, sexuality and the body; anorexia; prostitution) If students feel that they may be sensitive to such material then they would be advised to make an alternative module option choice.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials94:0036:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Online - timetabled synchronous
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00On campus – timetabled synchronous
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study981:0098:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will allow for the introduction of the key trends in contemporary women’s writing in French and the main theoretical concepts related to gender conscious approaches to its translation. Students will make use of the notes they take in lectures, as well as lecture PowerPoints and handouts in order to hone their knowledge base of the aforementioned fields of study. In seminars, students will develop their ability to read and translate excerpts from literary texts. By comparing source texts and published translated texts, as well as their own prepared translation of a given textual excerpt, students will develop the capacity to argue intelligibly for and against specific translation decisions. Through in-class group discussion and translation slams, students will develop the ability to evaluate their own and others’ translations. The language of delivery for this module will be English but will enhance students’ linguistic capacity in French too since it will involve reading and translating French source texts. Private study time will be devoted to an initial reading of the relevant textual extracts and to a more detailed analysis of relevant published translations, as well as reading and note-taking from secondary critical sources and additional teaching material. This will be available primarily through Blackboard or through the Robinson library, and students will develop their independent learning skills and research techniques.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M100One essay of 2500 words. To be written in English, and submitted end of Semester 2
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MOne translation of 250 words and a commentary of 750 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative extended translation and reflective commentary allows students to demonstrate their ability to read and translate women’s writing in French applying gender-conscious translation strategies. The reflective commentary component will allow students to evaluate their own translation critically and argue convincingly for or against specific translation strategies. This formative component will inform students’ critical and reflective approach to the summative component. The summative essay requires students to engage with the theoretical knowledge gained during the module and encourages students to study in depth a particular aspect of the issues addressed in the module related to the translation of women’s writing in French. The essay assessment also develops students’ skills in bibliographical work, footnoting and referencing.

Reading Lists