SISU Translation Research Summer School

27 July 2021

Key dates Registration Intranet

Structure and Organization

Due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, the SISU Translation Research Summer School 2022 will be run totally in virtual mode. SISU’s virtual environment will enable us to deliver the full programme that we had originally planned to run in dual face-to-face and virtual mode, combining both asynchronous and synchronous activities.

The School will consist of five modules:

Each module encompasses three contact hours and six hours of guided reading.

Students participating in the School spend their mornings in taught sessions, while afternoons are spent in small group tutorials and independent study. Each student participates in two tutorials during the School.

On the final day, students will present their work to fellow students and staff and receive oral feedback.


MODULE 1 | Theoretical Approaches to Translation Research
Session 1A | Sue-Ann Harding
Paratextual Theory: texts in the world

No text is produced, circulated, translated, reproduced or retranslated without any sort of ‘package’ or ‘presentation’. Texts do not come to us ‘in an unadorned state, unreinforced and unaccompanied’. Rather, texts are always presented, are made present in the world, surrounded by what French literary scholar Gérard Genette calls ‘thresholds’ or ‘paratexts’ (Genette 1997: 1). More recently, Kathryn Batchelor (2016, 2018) has extended Genette’s framework into the study of translation, including the idea that translations themselves function as paratexts. This session introduces Genette’s theoretical foundation and, following Batchelor, explores ways in which paratextual theory enables us to critically study and account for ways in which translations are made present in the world. It provides an overview and several diverse examples of existing studies that draw on paratextual theory, methodologies and analysis, offering students potential avenues of research and reflection on ways in which attention to paratexts can add contextualising insights to work-in-progress.


Batchelor, Kathryn (2018) Translation and Paratexts. London: Routledge. Selected chapters.

Batchelor, Kathryn (2016) ‘Translation Paratexts and the Pushing-Hands Approach to Translation History’, in The Pushing-Hands of Translation and its Theory: In memoriam Martha Cheung, 1953-2013, edited by Douglas Robinson, pp 137-49. London and New York: Routledge.

Genette, Gérard (1997) Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, translated by Jane E. Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ‘Introduction’, 1-15.

Session 1B | Gabriela Saldanha
Landscapes, flows and the global cultural economy 

The contexts of production and reception of translations are described in a variety of ways, as cultures, languages, systems, fields, and generally divided into source and target. The use of such terms has important implications for what the research enables us to say about translations and the contexts in which they circulate. In this session, we will focus on landscapes as a productive metaphor to challenge the notion of context as stable substances within fixed boundaries and focus on their dynamism and heterogeneity. The notion of landscapes is borrowed from the work of Appadurai (1990, 1996) and Tsing (2002). Appadurai’s theory focuses on the ruptures caused by the effect of media and migration on the work of the imagination as a constitutive feature of modern subjectivity. According to Appadurai, media and migration create specific irregularities “because both viewers and images are in simultaneous circulation. Neither images nor viewers fit into circuits or audiences that are easily bound within local, national or regional spaces” (Appadurai 1996, 4). Tsing (2000) uses the landscape metaphor in order to problematize and extend the idea of “flow” which has become ubiquitous in studies of globalization. Tsing resists an excessive valorization of “flow” by focusing not only on movement but also on how flows change the surrounding landscapes, how “people, cultures and things” are “remade as they travel” (2000, 347). In this session, we will look at how research in translation studies can show that texts, concepts, products, never simply move across borders but transform the material and imaginary spaces they travel along, and how any account of such movements is inevitably perspectival and temporary.


Appadurai, A. (1990) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, Theory, Culture & Society 7:295-310.

Kershaw, A. and G. Saldanha (2013) ‘Introduction: Global Landscapes of Translation’, in Angela Kershaw and Gabriela Saldanha (eds) Global Landscapes of Translation, special issue of Translation Studies 6(2): 135-149.

Tsing, A. (2000) ‘The Global Situation’, Cultural Anthropology 15(3): 327-360.

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MODULE 2 | Research Methods in Translation Studies
Session 2A | Maialen Marin-Lacarta
Ethnographic Methods and Fieldwork in Translation & Interpreting

Ethnographic approaches have gained popularity as Translation and Interpreting scholars have shifted their attention from texts to contextualisation, understood as “a dynamic process of negotiation and one that is constrained by the uneven distribution of power which characterizes all exchanges in society, including those that are mediated by translators and interpreters” (Baker 2006: 322). Consequently, researchers have shown an increased interest in conducting ethnographic fieldwork to study the agents, their interactions with other human and non-human actors, and their practices and processes of translation. This session will introduce various ethnographic methods used by Translation and Interpreting scholars, including participant observation, fieldnote writing, diaries, interviews and focus groups. Examples of various studies will be used to illustrate the methods and misconceptions about ethnography will also be addressed. Since ethical concerns are closely linked to the application of ethnographic methods because of the impact that research may have on the participants, special attention will be paid to the researcher’s positionality, the relationship with research subjects, and various kinds of ethical concerns that arise when conducting immersive ethnographic fieldwork and when disseminating the results. This session will also address digital ethnographies and ethnographies that include both online and offline fieldworks, as internet-mediated research has generated new forms of data collection that have recently gained popularity due to the pandemic. Future avenues of ethnographic research in Translation and Interpreting, including the potential of ethnographic action research, will also be discussed.


Flynn, Peter (2010). ‘Ethnographic approaches’, in Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer (eds) Handbook of Translation Studies, vol. 1., Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 116–119.

Yu, Chuan (2020). ‘Ethnography’, in Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (eds) Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, London & New York: Routledge, 167–171.

Session 2B | Kyung Hye Kim
Reading Corpus Data in Context

Corpus-based methodology has been widely adopted across an array of disciplines, beyond linguistics, from forensic language analysis and translation studies to medical humanities and social sciences (e.g. to study antisocial behaviour online). The historical and socio-political context in which the texts/translations included in a corpus are produced and in which translators are embedded needs to be considered when examining linguistic patterns, not only because translation is a social practice and translators are social actors, but also because such contextual information will ultimately guide the interpretation of data. In other words, attention to the provenance of corpus data allows researchers to move beyond mere linguistic analysis of patterns to answer what the patterns identified contribute to the context of interaction, and why certain linguistic devices are (repeatedly) used by translators and/or authors. This session will demonstrate how corpus data can be accessed and interrogated in relation to the specific aims of research and the particular context in which the corpus data itself is embedded. Drawing on a variety of examples, it will further show how and to what extent contextual information can change the way in which a given pattern might be interpreted.


Van Dijk, Teun A. (2015) ‘Context’, In The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction, edited by Karen Tracy, Cornelia Ilie, and Todd Sandel. JohnWiley & Sons.

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MODULE 3 | Research Design and Dynamics 
Session 3A | Gabriela Saldanha
Case-study design

Most translation research nowadays claims to pay attention to context. Without further qualification, however, the notion of context is too general to adequately explain what aspects – outside the particular text, event, participant, or phenomenon under study – are taken into consideration in a specific research project. Case study is an established research design that is used in a wide variety of disciplines and is particularly concerned with contextualization and real-life settings. However, it is also often used as a label to describe any study focusing on a single unit of investigation, often without discussion of the characteristics and requirements that the methodology involves, and without documentation in terms of procedures for data collection and analysis. This session will focus on how to design a rigorous case-study, one that enables the researcher to justify the strengths of their results and their implications beyond the case at hand, as well as account for the inevitable limitations that any single project will have.


Saldanha, G. and S. O’Brien (2013) Research Methodologies in Translation Studies, London & New York: Routledge (Chapter 6). 

Session 3B | Kyung Hye Kim
Examining Translation in Socially and Ideologically Motivated Spaces: Museum Research Design

Museums are a repository of both tangible and intangible knowledge and elaborate narratives of collective memories. To a greater or lesser degree, they embody and present socio-cultural and educational value, and serve as important political spaces that encourage visitors to ethically and socially engage more deeply with their narrative(s), which is/are ultimately capable of inspiring collective action and bringing about social change. Understanding the museum as a public space where information is carefully selected and arranged to “create a particular reading of the events depicted and of the actors involved in them” (Valdeon 2015: 365), and acknowledging the crucial role of translation in not only delivering but also shaping a museum narrative, both inform different ways of researching translation in/of museums. This session will therefore focus on different ways of examining translations in the museum, in terms of: (1) research design, i.e. ways to establish appropriate research questions specifically for studying museum translations, considering the embedded shared values and ideology that shape the ‘museum context’; (2) data selection and collection, including ‘texts in museums’ or ‘museums as text’; and (3) different types of research methods, from linguistic analysis to interviews. 


Neather, Robert (2021) ‘Museums as Translation Zones’, in Esperança Bielsa and Dionysios Kapsaskis (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Globalization, London: Routledge, 306-319.

Olohan, Maeve and Mona Baker (2009) ‘Coherence and Clarity of Objectives in Doctoral Projects: A Research Design Workshop’, The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 3(1): 143–164.

Valdeón, Roberto A. 2015. “Colonial Museums in the US (Un)Translated.” Language and Intercultural Communication 15 (3): 362–75.

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MODULE 4 | Featured Theme: Context and Contextualization
Session 4A | Mona Baker
Context and Contextualization in Translation & Interpreting

Scholars of translation and interpreting appeal to the notion of context repeatedly, but they rarely define or critique it. To address this blindspot, it is important to engage with recent thinking on the topic in various related disciplines, especially to demonstrate the value of adopting a dynamic approach to the processes by which language users, including translators and interpreters, frame their interaction with others. This unit will examine how different ways of thinking about context as a theoretical notion might orient our research on translation and interpreting towards more productive research questions. The focus will be on contextualization as a dynamic process of negotiation and one that is constrained by the uneven distribution of power that characterizes all exchanges in society, including those mediated by translators and interpreters. Examples from various genres of translation and interpreting will demonstrate that closer engagement with fluid processes of (re)contextualization can provide us with a better insight into the shifting agendas of participants and the dynamic goals of interaction than any static listing of contextual variables, however extensive.


Baker, M. (2006) ‘Contextualization in Translator- and Interpreter-Mediated Events’, Journal of Pragmatics 38(3): 321-337.

Session 4B | Mona Baker
Contextualizing Translation: Positioning and Authentication

Static concepts such as context have long been replaced or complemented in various disciplines such as socio-pragmatics and linguistic anthropology with attention to evolving processes of engagement and active construction, as implied in the more productive notion of contextualization. This shift has served to highlight the fluidity of interaction and the fact that all human encounters are socially and jointly constructed, partly in advance but also to a great extent at the point of interaction itself. Similar shifts have taken place in translation studies since the turn of the century, away from static concepts such as equivalence and norms, and towards more dynamic ones such as narration and performance. Such shifts acknowledge the fact that the process of translation does not consist of passive responses to cultural, social and aesthetic conventions but of active negotiation among participants – including translators/interpreters – with shifting agendas and unequal levels of control over the interaction. The question then is not ‘what is the context of translation’ but ‘to what extent and how is this context constructed by the translator and other participants, and to what ends’. This unit will focus on the concepts of positioning and authentication in the work of Theo Hermans as particularly powerful examples of the shift towards active processes of contextualization in the discipline. 


Hermans, T. (1996) ‘Translation’s Other’, Inaugural lecture, University College London, 19 March. Available at

Hermans, T. (2007) The Conference of the Tongues, Manchester: St. Jerome.

Hermans, T. (2014) ‘Positioning Translators: Voices, views and values in translation’, Language and Literature 23(3): 285-301.

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MODULE 5 | Academic Career Development
Session 5A | Sue-Ann Harding
Publishing in International Journals

Writing and publishing peer-reviewed academic papers in international journals is an essential part of academic life, career development and disseminating and responding to research. Yet for many, including emerging scholars and those navigating different languages, rhetorical conventions, and institutional expectations, the processes of publishing and the work of editors and peer-reviewers can remain obscure. This session aims to dispel some of that mystery. It covers the publishing process from writing the paper, to identifying and pitching it to appropriate journals, what happens after submission, through to working with editors and responding to peer-review. Topics include, finding suitable journals (in and beyond translation studies), what makes a good paper, ways to improve your writing, co-authorship, issues around publishing in English, book reviews, and alternatives to the traditional models of academic publishing. The session draws on the presenter’s experience as an editor, peer-reviewer and published author and aims to inform, encourage and open up a space for questions and discussion.

Session 5B | Maialen Marin-Lacarta
Applying for External Funding for Research Projects

After the completion of doctoral studies, academics are required to apply for competitive research grants throughout their career, from individual projects to collaborative grants as their career progresses. Obtaining external funding for research projects is often a job prerequisite, and junior academics may lose their jobs if they fail. Based on the presenter’s experience in Hong Kong and Europe, this session will discuss best practices for developing successful proposals in the field of Translation and Interpreting. Special attention will be paid to various key elements that are becoming indispensable: interdisciplinarity, collaboration, novelty, feasibility and impact. The session will address issues such as finding suitable grants and funding agencies, choosing when to apply, identifying a project topic, preparing an application, and writing and structuring proposals. Through the analysis of project abstracts, participants will learn to identify strengths and weaknesses of project proposals. The session will draw on real examples of grants awarded by funding bodies in Hong Kong (University Grants Committee), Spain (Ministry of Science and Innovation) and Europe (European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions), and that investigate a variety of themes such as translation in international NGOs, national politics and the reception of Russian literature in English, and digital translations and the production of knowledge. 

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