Susan Bassnett is Emeritus Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick and between 2016 and 2020 served as Special Adviser in Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. During a recent interview she said the following:
I am delighted to be spending my last years at Warwick as I spent my initial years here, that is, not attached to any one department but working across departments in the Faculty. When I first came to Warwick to establish Comparative Literature, my task was to work with departments of English, French and Italian, then as new programmes in Theatre Studies, Film Studies and Comparative American Studies developed I began teaching in those areas as well. My teaching at Warwick has been fundamental for my research and my books on Translation and Comparative Literature have all come directly out of seminar work with students. My first book Translation Studies has just been published in 2014 in an expanded 4th edition and there is another new book on translation also published by Routledge in the New Critical Idiom series simply entitled Translation.
I see translation as a vitally important activity in today’s world but I do not see it as straightforward linguistic transfer, rather as a complex process of negotiation between languages and cultures. I have always argued for the status of the translator to be recognised and am delighted that as programmes in Translation Studies and now also World Literature proliferate,so the importance of translation is beginning to be recognised.
In the 1990’s Andre Lefevere and I pioneered what has come to be called ‘the cultural turn’. This led on to work in translation and postcolonialism (my book Translation and Postcolonialism Theory in Practice co-edited with Harish Trivedi came out in 1999) and I have been for many years involved in the editing of a translation series with Routledge and then with Multilingual Matters , also with several translation journals. In 2009 my monograph, co-written with Esperança Bielsa on Translation and Global News was published by Routledge, the result of a 3 year Arts and Humanities Research project investigating translation in global news media.
Recent PhDs supervised include:
• Translating Cyberspace: Participations, Mobilisation and Subversion
• A Critical Study of the Reception and Translation of the Poetry of Wang Wei in English
• Reconstructing Homer: English Translations of the Iliad and Odyssey between 1850-1950
• Translating Film Dialogue: English Subtitling in Taiwanese Film
• Translation in Advertising: Marketing Cars in Italy and the UK since the 1980s
• “Arising from the depths” (Kipala): A Study of Belarusian Literature in English Translation
• Sacred Impulses, Sacrilegious Worlds: Post/Secular Intimations in Graham Greene and Naguib Mahfouz
I am particularly interested in research on translation and its role in world literature, translation for the theatre, translation and culture, translation as shaping force in literary history and translation and memory. Having just joined the board of the World Literature Institute, I am committed to further study of the role of translation in the growth and development of literary systems around the world.,
Susan Bassnett was educated in Denmark, Portugal and Italy, acquiring various languages in childhood. She established postgraduate programmes in Comparative Literature and then in Translation Studies at the University of Warwick where she also served twice as Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She continues to lecture and run workshops around the world and her current research is on translation and memory. She is an elected Fellow of the Institute of Linguists, elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Academia Europaea. In recent years she has acted as judge of a number of major literary prizes including the Times/Stephen Spender Poetry in Translation Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the IMPAC Dublin prize. She is also known for her journalism, translations and poetry.
Email: S dot Bassnett at warwick dot ac dot uk