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Oxford Translation Day 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 11:00 to 20:00
St Anne's and other venues across the city

On June 3rd, St Anne’s College will be running Oxford Translation Day, a celebration of literary translation consisting of workshops and talks throughout the day at St Anne’s and around the city, culminating in the award of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. 


Oxford Translation Day is a joint venture of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (the research programme housed in St Anne’s and the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities), in partnership with the Oxford German Network and Modern Poetry in Translation.


All events are free and open to anyone, but registration is required. Registration will open on Eventbrite on the 21st of April 2017.


Masterclass in Chinese to English Literary Translation

St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 7

11.00 – 12.30 am


Owing to the incredible success of Nicky Harman’s masterclass on Chinese to English literary translation in Michaelmas 2016, OCCT has decided to REPEAT this event. Focusing on a single paragraph from Jia Pingwa’s 2007 novel Happy (《高兴》), we will look at the process of the working translator, with an eye to issues particular to Chinese-English translation. Through examining both the translator's drafts and and her final version, we will discuss the practical problems of translation, starting with sentence structure, terminology and naming. Nicky will then unpick the cultural references, both implicit and explicit, and finally consider the author’s intentions for this paragraph. The conversation will then open up for discussion, as the translator poses the question of whether her translation succeeded in recreating the same effect in English.


All are welcome. No knowledge of Chinese is necessary. A few short preparatory readings will be circulated in advance to facilitate audience participation. Please book via Eventbrite to secure a place and receive introductory readings.


Places are limited so booking is essential.


French Translation Workshop:  Translating Conversations with Jenny Higgins

St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 9

11.00 – 12.30 am


In this practical workshop we will explore ways of translating dialogue. This can be one of the most difficult things a translator ever has to do, but also one of the most interesting and creative. Using examples from fiction and film, participants will work together to produce and compare translations. Run by Jenny Higgins, translator of several works of fiction and non-fiction, this will be a fun, challenging workshop aimed at opening up fresh ways of thinking about translation. Participants should have at least AS-level French.


Places are limited so booking is essential.


Translation: Practice vs Theory
St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 9

12.45 – 13.45 am

Translation and translation theory have a complicated relationship. Theorists sometimes criticize translators; translators sometimes wish that theorists would shut up and get on with actual translations. And yet the work of translation can be enlivened by theoretical proposals, while theory has much to learn from close attention to translators' varying practices. Join the writers, translators and theorists Matthew Reynolds, Karen Leeder and Adriana X. Jacobs to explore this explosive terrain (and maybe witness a few skirmishes). 

Matthew Reynolds is a literary academic, novelist and scholar of translations, author of (most recently) Translation: A Very Short Introduction. Karen Leeder is an academic who writes among other things about literature and translation, and a prize-winning translator of modern German literature (especially poetry) into English. Adriana X. Jacobs is an academic and translator from the Hebrew. Her monograph Strange Cocktail: Translation and the Making of Modern Hebrew Poetry is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press.


From Press to Public: Publishing Translated Literature

St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 7

14.00 – 15.15 pm


OCCT has invited representatives from three publishers (MacLehose; And Other Stories; Granta/Portobello) to explore the dynamics of publishing translated literature. Arranged in a “conversazione” format, these publishers will informally discuss the marketing, economics, problems, and delights of publishing a genre that comprises a tiny percentage of the UK book market. The publishers will be joined by Dr Rajendra Chitnis, an academic who recently completed a report on translating the literatures of small European nations. His project involved extensive engagement with translators, publishers, agents, booksellers, and national and third-sector bodies. The conversation will be chaired by Dr Eleni Philippou.


The Bold and the Baltic: Women’s Writing from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 7

15.30 – 16.45 pm


At the moment the publishing industry’s attention is focused on the Baltic region as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been selected as the market focus for the International London Book Fair in 2018. Although Baltic countries share a great deal of history, there are still significant enough differences among them to make their individual literary scenes unique and distinctive. This event brings together Baltic authors, translators, and literary critics to explore and showcase the female literary voices that have emerged from each of these countries since the breakdown of the Soviet Union. They’ll be asking: What are the idiosyncrasies and prevailing themes of women’s literary expression in each country? What do these female voices share? What does it mean to translate femininity? This event will take the form of a conversation interspersed with short readings of contemporary Baltic women’s poetry and prose.


More information about the writers here:


This event has been kindly funded by the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian embassies and cultural institutes.


‘I am a double-voiced bird’: Poetry in Dialogue

St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 9

17.00 – 18.00 pm


Ulrike Almut Sandig started publishing her poetry by pasting poems onto lamp posts in Leipzig and spreading them on flyers and free post cards as part of the ‘augenpost ohrenpost’ (eyemail earmail) project. She is an electrifying performer who works with film, sound installation, music and spoken word to bring poetry to new audiences and is as likely to be found performing with rock groups as in conventional poetry venues. This session will introduce her new libretto for the 1927 film Berlin: A Metropolis as well as some of short film and sound poems and will open into a discussion about how poetry can be in dialogue with other languages and other art forms. No knowledge of German is required to attend this event.


Ulrike Almut Sandig (b. 1979) has written two volumes of prose as well as sound works, CDs and four volumes of poetry, most recently ich bin ein Feld voller Raps verstecke die Rehe und leuchte wie dreizehn Ölgemälde übereinandergelegt (2016). Karen Leeder is an academic and translator from German. She won an English PEN award and a PEN America PEN/Heim award for her translations of Sandig in 2016.


THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED: A Conversation with Bernard O'Donoghue

Queen's College, Magrath Room

17.00 – 17.45 pm

Bernard O'Donoghue discusses and reads from his new translation of William Langland’s Piers Plowman with Sasha Dugdale, editor of MPT, and Charlie Louth, Fellow in German, Queen's.


Proverbs – Sprichwörter

Radcliffe Humanities Building, Seminar Room

11.00 – 12.30 am


While the English phrase 'to be like a bull in a china shop' is nearly the same in German, the animal is different (an elephant in this case). Some proverbs actually exist in both English and German - but the devil is in the detail. In this workshop, we will explore the literal meanings as well as the metaphorical semantics of selected German proverbs. Proverbs are extremely difficult to translate while at the same time they can be seen as a gateway to a culture and its history. As 'frozen phrases' they preserve a meaning that may have been forgotten even by contemporary native speakers. This session will offer activities to translate word by word as well as guessing contexts, introduce the semantic history of some phrases and link it to English proverbs, that have a similar meaning (or have they?). Clare Ferguson, translator and previously Head of German at Magdalen College School, will lead this workshop.


Some knowledge of German is preferable: participants are welcome with anything from a few informal phrases to advanced knowledge of the language.


Places are limited so booking is essential.


Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize Short List Readings and Prize-Giving
St Anne’s College, Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre

19.00 – 20.00


The Oxford–Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. It is founded by Lord Weidenfeld and funded by New College, The Queen’s College and St Anne’s College, Oxford. Those translators short-listed for the prize will discuss their work, and the prize will be presented to the winner.