Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module MELA46530: World Literature and Translation

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA46530: World Literature and Translation

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to R9T207


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the roles translation played in the evolution of world literature, national literatures and literary exchanges;
  • To help students see translation as an important factor in rendering literary works from language to language;
  • To familiarise them with key research skills for analysing literary translation;
  • To train students to engage critically with Translation Studies literature.


  • This module will present aspects related to translation’s involvement with literary processes. Translation is an important, if often taken for granted or ignored, player of the literary field. Yet there are theories of translation and the roles it plays, notably the polysystem theory of translation (Even-Zohar, Toury and scholars of the Tel Aviv-Leuven school), the research into translation as it plays out in postcolonial contexts and the sociology of translation as a factor in international book markets, which would provide students with insights and equip them with a methodological toolkit to analyse phenomena in world literature as a whole and in particular national traditions. The topics to be considered has scope for variation from year to year, and in response to the interests of students, but typical areas will include: theories of literary translation; postcolonial translation theory; social aspects of translation; translation and the evolution of literature; projects of world literature and the contribution of translation to such projects. These areas will be explored through engagement with a mixture of original methodological writing and more recent critical literatures.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • Critical understanding of Translation Studies and of the methodological and theoretical debates within them.
  • Advanced knowledge of the translation theories relevant to studying world literature and national literary traditions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with translation research methods and theories.
  • An advanced understanding of forms of analysis in intellectual and (inter)cultural synchrony and diachrony.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • An advanced ability to engage with reading and analysing translated texts.
  • The ability to engage in reflective and self-directed learning.
  • The ability to plan work effectively, with appropriate time-management skills.
  • The capacity to express research findings in clear written form, according to appropriate stylistic conventions;
  • Advanced ability to critically assess, review, and revise one’s own work;
  • Advanced communication skills (expression, awareness and evaluation of own performance).

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught by means of 9 sessions which will be a combination of lectures, seminars and students’ presentations. Students will be required to prepare for each seminar by set reading, and to play an active role in discussing issues that arise. Assessment will test students’ ability to analyse the role of translation in a case study presenting a literary project or process of the past or present in the cultures and languages of their expertise.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures & Seminars 9 Weekly 2 hours 18
Structured reading and essay preparation 282

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will take place throughout the course, and feedback will be provided on presentations and class discussion.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University