EN3GLT-Global Literatures: Translation as Theme and Theory

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1 or A-Level (A*, A or B)
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Abram

Email: n.l.abram@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module engages students with the global scope of contemporary literature, from 1980 to the present. Applying a comparative critical approach, it draws on a range of novels, short stories, and literary essays from around the world (some of which will be read in translation). Its focus is on cross-cultural encounter, and the associated issues of communication and translation: these will be studied both as thematic content and as theoretical concepts. This module will therefore be of interest to students preparing to practice as translators, as well as equipping all participants to appreciate and articulate the ways in which language and literature make, unmake, and remake the world and its citizens. 


This module values fiction not as a flattening of ‘universal’ human experiences, but as a space for exploring difference and crossing distance. It examines how far experiences and concepts are specific to their originary linguistic contexts, focusing on moments of miscommunication and impassibility between languages, people and places, as well as analysing moments of positive and productive interaction across ostensible borders. Particular attention will be given to the hybrid literary forms and syncretic languages that result from what Mary Louise Pratt has termed “cultural contact zones”. 

The figure of the translator – both literal and fictional – will usefully complicate received wisdom about the authority of the author. We will also consider the efforts of the publishing industry to mediate between cultures, through the use of alternative titles, book covers and marketing strategies. We will go on to reflect on our own roles and responsibilities as readers and book buyers in a global age. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, students will be expected to:

•    demonstrate an understanding of the texts selected for study, and exercise skills of close textual analysis

•    formulate critical analyses of texts and concepts in written work

•    read and interpret texts from different critical perspectives, and appreciate how differences in theoretical framework can produce multiple readings of a text

•    demonstrate an awareness of relevant theoretical, contextual, and methodological issues

•    articulate an understanding of globalization, multiculturalism, and cultural encounter

•    appreciate how nationality and linguistic identity intersect with ‘race’, gender, class, and ethnicity

•    use appropriate terminology, and reflect on critical languages and methodologies

•    recognize the complexities of translation as a principle and practice

•    engage critically with ideas discussed in seminars

•    engage reflectively with their own learning


Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed through informal seminar tasks, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. The online Learning Journal provides students the opportunity to exercise technical skills (such as filmmaking, audio recording, web formatting) and to draw on creative writing expertise, if desired. 


Outline content:

Texts to be studied will be drawn from across the world, from the 1980s to the present day. Specific works may include: Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987); Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994) trans. Jay Rubin (1997); Leila Aboulela, The Translator (1999); Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2005); Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecesary Woman (2014); short stories from Words Without Borders (online). 

This module requires students to read texts comparatively across different cultural contexts. Additional language skills (such as Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, or French) may be useful but are not necessary, as all texts will be studied in English. 

Theoretical and supplementary material may include essays by Angela Coutts, Paul Bandia, Simon Gikandi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mary Louise Pratt, Salman Rushdie, and Clive Scott. 


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Three seminar hours weekly, which may take the form of a single 3-hour block or two blocks of 1 and 2 hours respectively, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also asked to prepare and deliver one short, informal presentation during the term in which the module is taught. 

This module is partly assessed by an online Learning Journal (50%), for which students must submit short weekly reflections on their studies, via Blackboard.  

Students are entitled to a half-hour individual feedback tutorial on their formative work. 

With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 33
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 166.5
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Portfolio 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will select five Learning Journal entries to submit for summative assessment. 

Formative assessment methods:

The first five weeks’ Learning Journal entries (each 450-500 words, up to a total of 2,500 words) perform a formative function. Students will receive individual one-to-one feedback on this work.

Feedback will also be provided on the summative essay of 2,500 words, or the equivalent placement report.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of at least 40% overall. 

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in September. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 25 August 2017

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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