Offered as FTRA 668/568/418 “Web, Technologies, Translation” in 2022 and 2023

Département d'études françaises — Translation Studies sector

Academic Year 2021–22 | Winter (SGW H 620 / remote online) | Fridays 5:45-8:15 p.m.


Please note: the course is designed to transfer easily to an online format in case we need to pivot to remote learning or alternate modes throughout the semester. The Zoom meeting links for classes and for office hours in online mode are provided in Moodle from the start.

Important reminder: it is strictly forbidden and against Concordia University’s Code of Conduct to circulate the course content (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, evaluations, etc.) on websites that host or share teaching documents, university papers, etc.

Keep abreast of your university dates, deadlines, responsibilities and services:

Translation student associations:

  • Association étudiante des cycles supérieurs en traduction (AECST) / Graduate Students Association in Translation
  • Association étudiante du premier cycle en traduction (AECPT) / Undergraduate Students Association in Translation (USAT)

The translation studies discipline is interdisciplinary by default. The contributing multiple disciplinary approaches provide new insights into translation as an object of inquiry. This is no less the case for the critical contextualization that is input from research in digital studies. Current technologies and the ways we use them continue to transform how we communicate — including translation-mediated communication. No technology or platform is ever ‘neutral’. Nor can computers, information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile devices, the internet and Web still be defined as ‘new technologies’. Together, they are now an integral, ubiquitous, pervasive, and guiding force in today's cultures and societies. As our societies increasingly transform into multi-level digital ones, the implications for our personal and professional lives are huge. They challenge us to think beyond easily constructed homogeneous categories or simplified concepts and raise important questions about our forward trajectories. The ‘digital’ is not merely tech; it is also culture.

How do the notions of ‘source' and ‘target’ texts familiar to our translation discourse become problematic when the texts are ‘written’ by automated agents and translated by machine translation (MT) apps? ‘Who’ is responsible for ‘what’ in a translation process that includes many diverse, networked social actors in the digital ecosystems — clients, programmers, language service providers, project managers, localizers, translators, revisers, quality control reviewers, among others? Indeed, how are automation and artificial intelligence (AI) changing their practices? What is the role of translation in a multilingual, globalized digital world where internet users perceive it as a simple, instant operation generated by a mere mouse-click or voice command? How do the trends that increasingly digitalize our markets and economies, labour skills and notions of work affect social integration, government policies and politics, and governance from a plurilingual, multicultural perspective in participatory democracies? What is the role of ethics in digital societies, particularly with regard to AI and increasing robotization?

Although there may be more questions than answers at this point in time, it is critically important to begin our reflections and discussions on the relationships and dynamics underpinning our contemporary human lives mediated by technologies and the Web. In particular, the EU context serves as excellent ground on which to explore and discuss these questions, issues, and actions and what they ultimately mean for us, as students, practitioners, scholars, and human beings.

More specifically, in this course you will learn to:

  • Identify the diverse concepts and components of digital literacies;
  • Historicize the information and communication practices and needs of the digital world;
  • Recognize the functions of different types of multimodality and their relevance to digital content production and meaning-making in diverse communication contexts, including accessibility;
  • Evaluate the impact of ‘datafication’ on society, and the means by which personal and professional (including language and translation) data are/should be protected;
  • Identify the characteristic features of translation communication in a digital context, both in terms of the technologies used and the diverse roles it plays, and this in relation to the changing concepts of work, the workplace and environment;
  • Identify the concepts and practices involved in the automation of translation processes, and the role of the ‘human in the loop’, within the context of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”;
  • Assess the role and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) from the perspectives of ethics and trust-building in human-AI relationships;
  • Analyze the new and emerging roles of information and communication production and transmission (including those mediated through translation) in terms of digital world societies, economies, and governance, with a focus on EU dynamics.

Class procedures:

Preparation for the course is similar for both on-site and online modalities.

Jean Monnet course note: As part of the EU’s Jean Monnet Chair program, the course is officially offered in English.

Readings: The required textbook, Understanding Digital Literacies. A Practical Introduction, Second Edition, by Rodney H. Jones and Christoph A. Hafner (Routledge 2021), can be purchased at the bookstore. For each class (onsite and online sessions), 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 only a few pages (e.g., encyclopedia or handbook entries), others the length of a book chapter (ranging from 20-30 pages), and some with extensive bibliographies provided by the authors. Have a look at the content in advance, so you can plan ahead for the amount of time you’ll need during the week to read through the material. The readings may also be used for final papers.

Pre-recorded segments: You will be notified when pre-recorded segments are posted in Moodle for you to listen to prior to online sessions. Note: The segments are applicable only for the sessions that are online, as the length of time for the online meeting will be shorter than for the onsite meeting.

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.

News items: Along with your comments on the readings, please find an online news item (any length; text, audio, video) of interest and relevant to the class, and post the URL at the end of your weekly comment. The news item need not be associated with your comment.

Class discussions: The discussions, both onsite and online (not recorded), 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, news items, and discussions (including pre-recorded segment listening) (50%)

  • Constitutes 50/100 points of final grade
  • Based on a total of 10 out of 13 weeks, each week worth 5 points
  • Breakdown of 5 points: 5=excellent; 4=very good; 3=good; 2=satisfactory; 1=unsatisfactory

Final research paper (50%)

  • Constitutes 50/100 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 [45-50 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 [30-44 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 [20-29 pts]
    • "Unsatisfactory": incoherent argument / presentation; information illogical and/or irrelevant; little / no critical analysis; improper citing [0-19 pts]

Final grade calculation (100%)

  • Calculated on the basis of 100 points = 100%
  • Breakdown of grading categories:
    • 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 10-15-minute one-on-one individual meeting with me to take place online by March 18th 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 15 pages in length, excluding bibliography.
  • Please use the standard default Calibri font set at 11. Use 1.5 spacing between lines. 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


MID-TERM BREAK (Feb 28 - Mar 6)

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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