Decolonising Translation: Poetry, Power, Relation, and Difference (Transreading)

Decolonising Translation: Poetry, Power, Relation, and Difference (Transreading)

If translation is a movement, who is permitted to cross?

This course will invite writers to think about the politics of translation. Translation is often discussed in terms of cultural exchange, crossings, and movements between diverse languages, cultures, and communities. The notion of cultural exchange implies equality and equivalence – that writers, translators, and readers might be considered equally; that languages, cultures, and texts might be equivalent. But how do we measure equality and equivalence? Thinking about the historical and contemporary realities of imperialism, globalisation, and multiculturalism, we will ask: to what extent is translation a process of equating, making similar, and assimilating? If translation is conceived as a crossing, what are the conditions of the journey? Who is permitted to cross? If translation is a movement, in which directions does it move? Each week, we will read samples of poetry, literary criticism, and critical theory by writers including Vahni Capildeo, Don Mee Choi, Linh Dinh, Édouard Glissant, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and Heriberto Yépez. We will think about the implicit and explicit power dynamics between source and target languages; between writer, text, and translator; between historically and culturally diverse contexts and audiences. We will also ask about the possibilities of simultaneously recognising difference and enabling relation, of resisting cultural appropriation and taking pleasure in multiplicity, confusion and loss.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

Transreading courses – co-curated with Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese – invite us to read poems brought to English by translation, English-language poems inhabiting other cultures, and multilingual poems whose English hosts other tongues. We translate texts and/or compose new poems in response to our readings; in this process of trans-reading and trans-writing we open our poetries to the multi-literate world.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

(Image credit: ‘wim hoppenbrouwers’)

About Nisha Ramayya View Profile

Nisha Ramayya is a poet and a visiting lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Kent. Her pamphlets Notes on Sanskrit (2015) and Correspondences (2016) are published by Oystercatcher Press. Her work may be found online in The Believer, Blackbox Manifold, Datableed, Jungftak: A Journal for Prose-Poetry, Litmus, and The White Review. She is a member of the ‘Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK’ research group and the interdisciplinary practice-as-research group Generative Constraints.

‘The Poetry School gave me the confidence to write three new poems for the course and put them forward for constructive criticism. The tutor and rest of the groups were very supportive of one another. I have only been writing for myself, and rarely put my poems forward to an ‘audience’ so the course helped me see that my poems were good enough, and the constructive criticism offered will help when I re-draft them. I also learned more about the technical constructs of poetry, as I have been writing mainly for the ear, so it was good to learn how poetry ‘works.’ Also the course was very affordable, and the tutor very accessible.’

Autumn 2017 Survey response

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