Theory and techniques of English translation

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of this course is to provide students with methodological tools to analyse a literary text from a translation perspective. Students will learn how to examine a text from a linguistic, stylistic and rhetorical point of view, taking into consideration the historical-cultural context in which the text was written and its authorial and linguistic peculiarities. The course also aims at increasing the students' awareness of the different issues a translator should tackle; in fact, a selected choice of texts written in English will be addressed considering the interdependence between client/publisher, translator and model reader.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students will be familiar with the main theories that have animated and still animate the international panorama of Translation Studies. Particular attention will be paid to contemporary translation theories - from the 1950s to the present - and to the Translation Studies perspective. In addition, students will be able to identify the dominant of a text, the model reader of its translation and the main rhetorical, linguistic and cultural aspects of the source text, paying particular attention to its literary genre and linguistic variety. Thanks to different translation techniques students will be able to cope with the deforming tendencies, manipulations and rewritings that every text can undergo in translation, and they will reflect on the ethics of difference in translation.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
More specific information on the delivery modes of the training activities for academic year 2021-22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
The course, whose title is "Translating Otherness: Translation as the Ethics of Difference", encompasses the following topics:

A: Contemporary Translation Theories (20 hours, 3 credits)
B: Retranslation and modern classics (20 hours, 3 credits)
C: Translating postcolonial literature (20 hours, 3 credits)

In order to acquire 6 credits, students will follow the program for sections A and B; students intending to obtain 9 credits will follow the whole program (sections A, B and C).
Sections A and B will be taught in the first semester, whereas section C will be covered during the second semester.

Students will be asked to translate short literary texts on a weekly basis. Such texts will be examined in class, within an analytical framework provided by the self/other paradigm, by different foreignizing and domesticating strategies, and by the concepts of manipulation, acceptability/adequacy, and translation project. Such discussion is also meant to build a critical approach towards the transparency and opacity of translation as a means to understand and communicate cultural difference. In addition, the course will deal with the most prominent theories which have shaped the international academic studies about translation. More specifically, section A will provide an overview of the main theories that have influenced Western Translation Studies from the 70's up to the present day. For section B, the retranslation hypothesis and more recent case studies about the retranslation of modern literary classics will be examined. Finally, in section C students will study the works that have delineated the most debated challenges and themes in the field of postcolonial translation during the last few decades.

The course program remains valid until February 2023.
Prerequisites for admission
The course, taught entirely in Italian, the course materials and the bibliography require a good competence both in English and Italian. Erasmus students and students participating in other mobility projects are invited to send an email to in order to discuss any necessary adaptations of the course syllabus.
Teaching methods
The course employs the following teaching methods: lectures, translation assignments, group reading and analysis of source and target texts.
Teaching Resources
The course has a website on the Ariel online teaching platform (, where students can find all the texts and materials provided during the lessons.
The following list contains the optional and compulsory bibliography. Editions of reference are indicated.

Bibliography for attending and non-attending students
Introductory texts about translation (Optional)
Franca Cavagnoli, La voce del testo, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2012.
Jeremy Munday, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications, Londra; New York, Routledge, 2016.

Required bibliography
Lawrence Venuti (ed. by), The Translation Studies Reader, New York; London, Routledge, 2004.

Materials provided in class (also available on Ariel).

Franca Cavagnoli, La traduzione letteraria anglofona. Il proprio e l'altrui - English e Englishes - Gli autori postcoloniali di Lingua Inglese, Milano, Hoepli, 2017.

Maria Rosa Bollettieri Bosinelli; Elena Di Giovanni (a cura di), Oltre l'occidente. Traduzione e alterità culturale, Milano, Bompiani, 2009.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam is made up of a preliminary written test and of an oral test. The written test consists of the translation of a literary passage of about 1000/1500 characters. The time allowed is 2 hours. Students can use electronic and paper dictionaries, both bilingual and monolingual.

The oral test includes open questions and a critical discussion and analysis of one or more texts from the bibliography. This part has a variable duration, depending on the number of credits the candidate wants to obtain, and is carried out in Italian. Erasmus students or students participating in other mobility projects can be tested either in Italian or in English.

The written test aims at verifying the students' comprehension of English texts, as well as the lexical, terminological and rhetorical accuracy of their translations into Italian, and their rendering of the syntactic and rhytmic structure and of any cultural aspects of the source text. The mark is expressed in thirtieths and constitutes 50% of the final evaluation. The results will be sent by email or uploaded on the course website (, within the date chosen for the oral exam. Students are free to reject the mark, by emailing their decision to, before the oral test. Candidates can check their revised tests during the oral exam.

The oral test is meant to verify the knowledge of the bibliography, the candidate's ability to contextualize authors and works, their terminological accuracy and their critical thinking about the topics addressed in the course. The final mark is expressed in thirtieths, and constitutes 50% of the final evaluations. Students are free to reject the mark during the exam.

Note for attending students:
An interim written test is scheduled during each semester. The average mark of the two written tests will constitute 50% of the final evaluation. Only the students who pass both tests will access the oral exam straightaway.
Unita' didattica A
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Educational website(s)