Département d'études françaises — Translation Studies sector

Academic Year 2022–23 | Fall (LB 619) | Tuesdays 5:45 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.


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Specific course description and objectives

Translation is a unique mode of communication. For its practice, it requires not only knowledge of diverse languages and cultures but also competence in a subject area and general knowledge of the world. Training in certain processes enables translators to sift through their repositories of knowledge in an efficient way, in order to produce a professional translation that communicates the message, context, and intention of a source text clearly to different target audiences. The translation studies discipline is interdisciplinary by default. Many diverse disciplinary approaches continue to contribute and provide new insights into translation as an object of inquiry.

In this course you will explore some of the important dynamics that influence and guide the emergence, production, circulation, and reception of translation in linguistically diverse environments, especially those of endangered and minoritized languages-cultures. For decades, linguists have been alerting the general public to the accelerated pace of language loss, with half the world's nearly 7,000 languages heading toward extinction in the 21st century. At the same time, linguistic-cultural identities do not occur in a vacuum, nor are they permanently fixed or static. They acquire their forms within fluid communicative environments that change in relation to social and political fluctuations.

In our rapidly transforming contemporary world, the parameters that induce change are many: globalization, economics; geopolitics; sociocultural and linguistic traditions and habits; migration; warfare; demographics; social inequalities; political and institutional ideologies and governance; climate and ecologic alterations; technological automation and artificial intelligence, to name some of the most salient. To understand them critically and historically is to begin to re-envision future directions of our collective human trajectory. As a vital mode of communication across geographical and digital boundaries, and rich in the experience of negotiating difference, translation will continue to have a serious role to play in our world.

More specifically, in this course you will learn to:

  • Engage with diverse perspectives on translation;
  • Examine some of the concepts and methodological approaches used to investigate, analyze, interpret, and understand language and translation in relation to social and political dynamics, power, and institutional structures;
  • Consider the effects of important external factors on translation, such as migration, conflict, globalization, geopolitics, contemporary technologies, among others;
  • Historicize and contextualize specific minority language translation scenarios;
  • Identify the concrete ways in which the supranational European Union (EU) implements its multilingual policies and strategies of translation as a means to encourage representative and participatory democracy;
  • Identify certain characteristics of complex heterogeneous, plurilingual, and minoritized translational spaces;
  • Analyze the multi-faceted roles of translation and translation studies research in the contemporary global context;
  • Understand the relevance of all these factors on the actual practices of translation, including in professional work, and on translation research and society at large.

Pedagogical assessment and evaluation


Selected articles and book chapters are posted and accessible through links in our class Moodle site from the outset of the course. You will find details in the weekly portions of the site and in this syllabus. Recommended readings (indicated in the syllabus) can be useful as further references and consulted for the final research paper. From time to time, I'll provide other links of interest for you in Moodle.

Class procedures

Readings: For each class, the expectation is that you will have read all the required readings listed for the week. The readings vary in scope and length, with some a mere 3 pages (e.g., encyclopedia or handbook entries), others the length of a book chapter (ranging from 20-30 pages), and many with extensive bibliographies provided by the authors. Have a look at the content in advance, so that you can plan ahead for the amount of time you will need during the week to read through the materials. You may use these readings as sources for your final papers as well.

Time management: Have a look at the content in advance, so that you can plan ahead for the amount of time you will need during the week to read through the materials. Note that you may use these readings as sources for your final papers as well. Remember, too, that writing a research paper takes time. Even when ideas feel clear, you’ll need time to formulate them properly in writing and to refine them in more than one draft version.

Comments: Each week you are responsible for posting (at least 24 hours before class) one substantive, informed comment for discussion on any or all of the readings. There are many interesting angles from which to consider the reading content. Your comments will guide discussion during our class meetings.

Class discussions: The discussions constitute an important space for articulating, clarifying, and critiquing ideas. This activity is also most helpful for working through the ideas you may want to use for your final research papers.

Grading criteria

Class comments and discussions (including pre-recorded segment listening) (40%)

  • Constitutes 40/100 points of final grade
  • Based on a total of 10 out of 13 weeks, each week worth 4 points
  • Breakdown of 4 points: 4=excellent; 3=good; 2=satisfactory; 1=unsatisfactory

Final research paper (60%)

  • Constitutes 60/100 points of final grade
  • Based on quality and respect of protocol (see below)
  • Breakdown of assessment categories:
    • “Excellent”: originality; information highly relevant to the questions posed; highly critical and analytical; superior and judicious use of citations and supporting evidence [55-60 pts]
    • “Very Good/Good”: clear argument and presentation; information relevant to the questions posed; good level of critical and analytical engagement with texts; very good use of citations and supporting evidence [40-54 pts]
    • “Satisfactory”: evidence of argument and presentation; information not consistently relevant to the questions posed; critical analysis passable; citations included but not always reliable or compliant [30-39 pts]
    • “Unsatisfactory”: incoherent argument/presentation; information illogical and/or irrelevant; little/no critical analysis; improper citing [20-29 pts]

Final grade calculation (100%)

  • Calculated on the basis of 100 points = 100%
  • Breakdown of grading categories (based on departmental rating scale for graduate courses)

A+ = 100-95 [4.3] // A = 94-90 [4.0]

A- = 89-85 [3.7] // B+ = 84-80 [3.3]

B = 79-75 [3.0] // B- = 74-70 [2.7]

C = 69-60 [2.0]

Protocol for final research papers

  • Mandatory! Please reserve a 10- to 15-minute one-on-one individual meeting with me to take place online by November 16 in order to discuss your final research paper topic and method before you begin writing.
  • Style guides to follow: for English papers: Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition; for French papers: TTR guidelines
  • Papers should be a minimum of 20 pages in length, including bibliography.
  • Please use Times New Roman font set at 12-point size. Include a cover page that states your name, student ID number, and title.
  • Papers may be submitted in English or in French. You do not have to translate any English or French quotes.
  • Critical tip! Good, clear, precise writing is a skill that is valued highly for professional work of all types in today's job market. Writing a paper requires adequate time for conceptualization and preparation. Think about the research topic you want to explore or the research question you want to address. It is helpful to map out in advance the points you wish to make. State at the outset how you will proceed, and define important or necessary terms and concepts. Synthesize and reference others to support or critique your statements. Make sure you provide an adequate synthesis of your ideas, and use precise vocabulary to explain your sequence of thoughts.
  • Take care to reference and cite properly. Any and all passages that are plagiarized will be reported to the Department Chair, and the paper will receive an automatic failure. There is no need to resort to plagiarism. Our objective is to enhance the analytical, critical and writing skills you will need for future professional or academic work, so that you will feel confident in your own work. That purpose is defeated if you simply copy-paste someone else's words. See me in advance if you need assistance or guidance.
  • Papers are graded according to quality of argument, clarity of expression, proper use of terminology and concepts, and adequate, acceptable citation.

Detailed course content

With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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