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Literary Translation: The Other Side of the Tapestry


Admission requirements

This course is open only to students registered for the Translation in Theory and Practice specialization.


“There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive book lovers.” Many will disagree with this quotation by the American classicist and teacher, Edith Hamilton (1867-1963), herself the author of beautiful translations of Greek tragedies. They would argue that reading a translation is like looking at “the other side of a tapestry” (Cervantes): it is not difficult, but actually impossible and should therefore not be tried at home – or in tutorial. However, this (i.e. trying) is precisely what we are going to do in this course.

In the first few weeks of the course, we will explore some of the issues (like the one above) in literary translation that scholars in different times and cultures have asked themselves. The second half of the course will be in the form of translation workshops, led by one or two students who have prepared short, annotated translations of fiction, poetry or drama at home.

At the end of the course, students are aware of the challenges involved in literary translation. Furthermore, they are aware of its interdisciplinary nature and of the contributions made by translation theorists, stylisticians, literary scholars and philosophers.

Course objectives

  1. knowledge of current debates in literary translation;
    1. knowledge of stylistics;
    2. ability to apply one’s knowledge and understanding of stylistics in translating literary texts.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

time spent on attending seminars: 28 hours
time for studying the compulsory literature: 42 hours
time to prepare translations, annotations and presentations(includingreading/research): 210 hours

Assessment Method

Class paper 10%
Written assignment 30%
Annotated translation 60%

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the translation.


Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course.

Reading list

  • Parks, Tim (2007). A Literary Approach to Translation – A Translation Approach to Literature. Manchester (UK) & Kinderhook (NY): St. Jerome Publishing.
    Additional reading materials made available on Blackboard.


Enrolment in uSis is obligatory. If you have any questions, please contact the student administration, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies


MA Linguistics departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;