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CW915 The Practice of Literary Translation

Convenor: Dr Chantal Wright
Instructor: Rosalind Harvey
This is a core workshop module for MALTS students. Please see the Library's Talis Aspire reading list system for the reading list.
This module is also open to any MA student with adequate knowledge of a modern or classical language; students from MAEL, MAW, MAWL, the MA in Translation and Cultures, the MA in Philosophy and the Arts and others are all welcome. Please contact the instructor to discuss if this module is suitable for you before enrolling.

This module draws on the ideas and practices of the eminent scholar and translator Michael Henry Heim, who led a writing workshop on literary translation at UCLA for more than thirty years. The emphasis will be on literary translation as literary writing. Students are invited to translate into English texts from whatever language – ancient or modern – they choose. It is the translated text that is examined in workshops. Students mark whatever words, sentences, or phrases they find puzzling, and together they seek reasons, alternatives, and (ultimately) general principles. Over time, students come to understand the particular challenges and pitfalls of the languages from which they are translating, as well as coming to appreciate that each language has its own ‘genius’. They also come to appreciate the complex processes by which translators can deploy literary techniques, not just to do justice to the works they are translating, but also to challenge and ultimately enrich their own use of the English language. Students will be asked to attempt translations across a range of modes and forms. Readings from translated literature and Translation Studies will allow students to reflect on their practice.


Students will submit a portfolio of 50% creative work (i.e. literary translation) and 50% essay. The length of the final portfolio will depend upon the student’s ‘home’ MA programme and pathway through it.