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Unit information: Theories of Translation in 2015/16

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Unit name Theories of Translation
Unit code MODLM0005
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Foster
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will familiarize students with the history of translation and its seminal role in Western culture, considering the different ways in which translation has been conceptualised as both process and product; it will introduce students to a range of theoretical approaches to translation. A process of student-led investigation and discussion will develop critical reflection on the value and relative merits of such approaches. Particular attention will be given to the application of theoretical frameworks to the analysis of practical translation. A structured reading programme will prepare students to contribute to regular face-to-face seminars and online forums. Each student will research and present topics to the group. Topics will cover a range of specific theoretical approaches to the study of translation in relation to different text types: examples are likely to include historical studies, process-based studies, hermeneutics, descriptive and functionalist theories, translation as inter-cultural mediation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

  1. be able to conceptualize the process of translation;
  2. have developed a sound framework for practical evaluation of translation practice (their own and others’);
  3. have developed their analytical insight into the nature and uses of text, and their theoretical appreciation of the complexities of transposing source text into target text;
  4. have learned to evaluate the relative merits of a number of approaches to translation, and the appropriateness of particular theories to particular translation contexts;
  5. have a theoretical basis for further detailed scholarly analysis of translation (e.g. at dissertation level and beyond);
  6. have developed skills in researching complex theoretical topics,
  7. be able to present their findings in accessible format to a group of peers.

Teaching Information

For the MA Translation: Delivered through distance learning, via Blackboard.

For the MA Chinese-English Translation: Delivered on site

With guidance from the unit tutor, students will be required to undertake a structured reading programme introducing key theoretical approaches. A number of topics will be chosen for a series of on-line discussion forums. Students will be required to participate in all of these and will present 2 topics in depth to the group and provide questions for the group to discuss. (Topics to be negotiated after the course introduction with the tutor.)

Assessment Information

There are two components to assessment:

a) Assessed presentation (the student will select one of their two presentations for assessment): 40% – assessing ILOs 1-6 and especially 7

b) Case study (2500 words) applying a theoretical model to an existing translated text (students will be allowed to choose the text type and translation for analysis, subject to the tutor’s formal approval): 60% – assessing ILOs 1, 3-6

Reading and References

  • Susan Basnett, Translation Studies (Routledge, 2002)
  • Jeremy Munday, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications (Routledge, 2012)
  • Laurence Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader (Routledge, 2004)