There is widespread interest in literary translation as a form of literary study, and as a discipline that extends the reading and writing skills obtained in an Arts degree. Trinity College builds on its large and successful language teaching experience in creating a programme specifically designed for the production and study of literary translations.
The course brings together in an interdisciplinary framework, the expertise to create a unique programme for practitioners, future practitioners and students of the art of translation. The target language is English, but the following source languages are also available: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Czech and Polish. Where requested, we will try to provide support in other languages. The programme is taught by experienced lecturers, several of whom have published translated books, and by guest translators. It features a seminar in which students present and discuss their own work.
A graduate of the course will be well equipped to undertake literary, cultural, academic or philosophical translation, and will be qualified for employment in any area demanding intercultural awareness and excellent writing and analytical skills. The aim is to each translation as an art, and to form professionals who will have learned to work in an ethos of mutual intellectual and linguistic exchange.
The taught element of the M. Phil in Literary Translation runs for the first two terms. Students take a number of compulsory courses, and choose from a range of optional courses. The ‘Translation Seminar’, runs through both terms; the courses entitled ‘Theory and Methodology of Comparative Literature and Literary Translation’ and ‘Theory and History’ run in successive terms, and the course ‘Texts and Translation’ will be taught by a guest translator (Peter Sirr) in the first term and by full-time Trinity Staff in the second term. All the courses are compulsory for all students. In addition, students take ONE option in each term on a specialist course of their own choosing. Regular class attendance is required.
The non-taught element of the course involves the submission of a portfolio of 35-40 pages of translated text and a dissertation of 20,000 words. The portfolio (two copies) is to be submitted by May and the dissertation (two copies) is submitted by August.
Core Module (Michaelmas Term): Theory & Methodology
Module Coordinator: Peter Arnds
This core module is shared with the MPhil in Comparative Literature, and explores some key theoretical issues raised by the activities of comparing and translating literatures. Recognition of the difference of other languages, literatures and cultures is arguably what initiates the projects of comparison and of translation. But, having acknowledged difference, what then authorises comparison, or translation? What are the conditions of comparability, or translatability? What continuities have to be presumed in order to claim that a given text is like (or unlike) another? or that a given text is equivalent to another? The Module examines different ways in which we might conceive of the relationships and the divergences between texts, cultures and traditions, as well as between disciplines. For, while inviting the students of Literary Translation and Comparative Literature to explore their shared concerns, the course is also an invitation to consider what distinguishes translation and comparison, and therefore to engage with the still very current debates around the legitimacy of Comparative Literature as a distinct field of inquiry. Students study a range of historical and more contemporary theoretical and literary texts with a view to acquiring an understanding of Literary Translation and Comparative Literature as inherently self-reflective critical practices, where the grounds for translation and for comparison are always open to question.
Core Module (HilaryTerm): Theory & History
Module Coordinator: Peter Arnds
This Module is taken only by students of Literary Translation and is made up of a series of two-hour lectures by different members of faculty. The lectures explore the theory and practice of translation in the context of a specific historical moment. The aim of the module is to provide students with a sense of the diversity of approaches to thinking about translation (linguistic, socio-linguistic, philosophical, literary and so on), and the diversity of contexts in which these reflections appear, as well as a broad introduction to key moments in the history of translation theory (the Medieval and Early Modern periods, the Renaissance, Romantic Germany, etc.).
Texts and Translations: (Michaelmas & Hilary Terms)
Module Coordinator: Susana Bayó Belenguer & Peter Sirr
Through a series of seminars on literary text types (involving different periods and languages) and their translation(s) into English, students will familiarize themselves with the art of literary translation, with some of the major problems encountered in translating literary texts, and with a variety of translation strategies to resolve such difficulties. The module will examine issues of foreignization, domestication, stylistics and genre, and students will be encouraged to develop advanced skills in close-reading and literary criticism. This module feeds into preparation of the dissertation and the portfolio of translations.
Module Coordinator: Peter Arnds
A student seminar to which students bring their own translation for comparison, debate and discussion. Runs throughout first semester and second semester, 2 hours per week. At the end of the year, students are requested to submit a portfolio of translations. This work is undertaken in conjunction with a supervisor from the language of the student's choice and counts for 30% of the final assessment.
Students select options, assessed by essay (30%). Although these are listed as ‘non-core’ items, this is only because they are not taken by all students together. However, they constitute an important element of assessment. According to local arrangements, students will either choose ONE full-year option or TWO half-year options as outlined on the following pages.
Up to 4 hours weekly over two terms will be spent in optional courses which will be selected from a number of one-term and two-term options. In order to facilitate potential exchange or independent travel abroad, no classes are scheduled for Trinity Term. Students spending this period elsewhere are expected to remain in e-mail contact with their dissertation supervisors. *Please consult the School Handbook for a full listing of all options & Please see the list of options listed below.
Aesthetics of Response: Ekphrasis and the Sublime
Coordinator : Nicola Creighton
Textual and visual experiences and studies involve seeing, reading, remembering, imagining and creating: making sense. But what happens when we fail to make sense? And what happens if we try to make sense of an intense experience by rendering it in another medium? These are questions raised by the concepts of the sublime and ekphrasis. At one level, they address everyday experiences. We sometimes encounter things or indeed people that we say baffle us, exceed our comprehension, terrify and thrill us at the same time, and we often put words on something we first encountered as an image (or moving image) that was made to be looked at, not read.
The sublime as a moment of experience is characterised by terror and delight. The history of this concept gives access to the drama of the emergence of a particular kind of human subject, the emergence of concepts, perception at its limits, the encounter with the ‘other’ and all the ambivalence of affect such an encounter can bring (feelings of terror, anxiety, threat, excitement, curiosity, desire, lust), and the displacement of the subject of Reason.
Ekphrasis typically refers to a piece of writing about a visual representation, e.g. a piece of prose or a poem conveying a painting. Like the sublime, ekphrasis serves as a stage for playing out the dramas of the human encounter with all things other to it, which can of course include its own alienated self.
The dynamics of power and desire circulating among texts (in various media), individual and culture will be explored.
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