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SML2016 : Reading in Translation

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jennifer Arnold
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


-To provide students with the tools to read a work in translation critically.
-to introduce students to key ideas from translation theory and theories of reading that will inform their reading experience.
-To provide students with the contextual information around translation as a process, practice and industry that impact the way a text, culture or language is presented and received.

Outline Of Syllabus

In this course we will explore what it means to read in translation and how this differs from reading a text in its ‘original’ language. Using texts translated from a range of languages (short stories, children’s literature, extracts from novels, play and poetry) and geographical contexts (including Spanish, Catalan, French, Korean, Japanese, and Arabic), we will think about how we read, discuss and analyse a text when we have no knowledge of the language, and often context, in which it was originally written. Although this module draws on theories and approaches from Translation Studies, no prior knowledge of translation theory is required and by the end students will be equipped with the key tools and resources they need for working with texts from multiple languages.

Drawing on theories and approaches from translation studies, reception studies, studies of reading and history of the book, and literary analysis, the module will explore a translation as both a process and product and think about the way in which this form of mediation impacts upon our reading experience. After reflecting on both the subjective and social nature of reading as a practice, we will go on to look at translation as a socially, culturally and politically situated activity. We will consider translation as a form of rewriting and (potential) manipulation, and think about the power issues at play within the complex dynamic of exchange in which it participates, reflecting on the dangers of seeing a target text as simply a reproduction of the ST without taking into account the context in which it has been produced. We will examine the book as an object (virtual or physical) and reflect on the ways in which paratextual (peritextual and epitextual) material contributes to the representation of an author, a culture or a language in the receiving culture. We will consider the role of the translator and how their agency, (including style) may be present in the target text. Taking all of this into account, we will then go on to think about what it actually means to read in translation and how we should analyse, talk about and approach a text from another language and culture. Topics include:

-       How do we read? – reception theory and translation
-       Translation as manipulation
-       Translation and power: reading ideology
-       Books and their literary systems: the publishing industry and translation
-       Death of the author – reading the translator in the text
-       Reading the reception of translated texts – the reviewing process.
-       How should we read in translation)

Primary sources could include extracts from : Arid dreams by Duanwad Pimwana (Thailand), La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea (Equatorial Guinea), Where the Wild ladies are (Japan), Cursed Bunny (Bora chung, Korea), The Last Patriarch by Najat El Hachmi (Catalan), Heidi by Joanna Spyri, Pipi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson, Early One Morning
by Lawrence Schimel (Spain).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:0010 x 1 hour interactive lectures providing the theoretical frameworks
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion971:0097:00Free reading on topic with peers. Student-led discussion. Other independent research and study
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion481:0048:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities112:0022:00Key reading tasks with questions to prepare
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:0022 hours of seminars for small group analytical work.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Introductory lecture to the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module will run for 11 weeks and will consist of a one-hour lecture and two-hour seminar each week.

The lectures will be used to introduce students to key ideas from Translation Studies, studies of reading and reception studies which will inform their reading of the texts. They will help students to map and to understand the main theoretical concepts and approaches that characterize the field. They will provide clear analytic frameworks within which to understand the texts selected and will introduce students to the tools required to understand the process of mediation which a translated text in translation undergoes before it is introduced into a receiving culture.
Seminars will provide students the opportunity to analyse and discuss a range of texts in translation. This will include close reading of the text itself, but also a critique of the paratextual material in, on and surrounding the text. They will also develop their ability to present their ideas orally and to work both independently and in groups. The primary sources for this module will all be in English, so no knowledge of any particular language is required. This enables texts from a wide range of languages, and geographical and cultural contexts to be considered and compared.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M20A 1000 word book review of a work in translation
Essay1A80A 3000 word essay based on a mini-research project
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MStudents will be given the opportunity to do a presentation on a topic that relates to the essay topics.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The book review will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of critical reading of works in translation that have been discussed and developed during the seminars. The essay requires students to engage more widely with the theoretical concepts and knowledge gained across the course and to apply this to the analysis of the texts. They will be asked to choose a work in translation and to trace the reception in the receiving culture, looking at marketing strategies, press reviews, reader reviews etc. The essay assessment therefore will also develops students’ skills in independent research as well as bibliographical work, footnoting and referencing.

Reading Lists