This interdisciplinary course offers you the rare opportunity to study how cultures translate across a wide range of fields. Critically combining the disciplines of translation and cultural studies, it breaks new ground both practically and theoretically in exploring a variety of different issues across the humanities and social sciences. It gives you the opportunity to shape the emerging field of translating cultures through independent in-depth research, and will appeal if you aspire to work at the cutting edge of debates and practices dealing with cultural interaction and transformation in the contemporary world.
Modules are taught and supervision given by expert staff who are specialists in a number of languages and disciplines, offering you the chance to follow particular themes in areas that most interest you. Recent work by staff includes books and articles on issues in translation, literature, migration, gender, religion, visual culture and museum studies to name a few, in Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish and other cultures.
We explicitly welcome applications for collaborative research projects and are happy to exploit our links with public and third sector partners to assist students in developing projects that fit with both the partners’ research needs and the demands and expectations of a Masters dissertation. The student will take the lead in the development of any such collaborative research project, but will be guided and assisted by the supervisory team and, where appropriate, other members of the course team.
You will take two core modules: Translating Cultures, which establishes frameworks for the close analysis of transcultural and translation concepts; and the Research Dissertation module, which provides training and personal supervision for the writing of an in-depth dissertation on an appropriate topic of your choice. The Research Dissertation module offers you the innovative possibility to develop your research project through an internship with a relevant external organisation. You will also choose an option module that matches your interests from a selection of modules offering advanced study in specialised areas, including translation, intercultural communication, diaspora, cultural identity, globalisation, democratisation and restorative justice. You are encouraged to attend the research seminars in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, particularly the Translating Cultures series run by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, at which visiting speakers, creative practitioners and teaching staff present their current work.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
The Research Dissertation module gives you supervised guidance and research training in preparing an MRes dissertation on an agreed research topic in the field of transculturality and translation as an interdisciplinary critical practice. Training is primarily provided through individual supervision sessions. Your learning is further supported by a suite of online training units in research methodologies, which in turn link in with group-based workshops hosted by the team of supervisors. The mid-point Dissertation Colloquium and the end-of-year Dissertation Symposium provide you with a forum to present your research to your peers in the first instance (Dissertation Colloquium) and, at the end of your studies, to wider academic audiences and relevant stakeholder communities (Dissertation Symposium). These prominent events in the Translating Cultures MRes calendar not only foster a sense of community among both staff and student researchers on the course, but also offer students valuable opportunities to demonstrate their presentation and communications skills. Conceived as a public, ‘degree show’-type event, the Dissertation Symposium in particular functions as a showcase for current and future research in the Department and, as such, responds to the growing importance placed on dissemination, diffusion and impact in research training.
Conceiving of translation as both an area of investigation and as an investigative paradigm, this module examines translational practices and processes and the problems of transposition, transfer and mediation in cultural encounters. Crucially, it opens up the understanding of ‘translation’ to include the transmission, interpretation and sharing of values, beliefs, histories and narratives not only across linguistic, cultural or geographical boundaries, but also, for example, from one medium, time period, or indeed one discipline to another. By reading the works of key theorists from around the world in the intersecting fields of translation and cultural studies alongside each other, this module aims to enhance your understanding of how historical and contemporary cultural interactions can be examined and conceptualised through the translational paradigm. The module explores the diverse forces shaping the products and processes of transcultural and translational phenomena and emphasises the links and tensions between them as a basis for more targeted study in the Research Dissertation module. This module thus seeks to equip you with a sound critical and methodological framework for analysing the complex interactions within and across today’s diverse communities of linguistic, cultural, historical, political and social practice.
Choose one from:
Capitalism and Culture
Beginning with Marx’s famous account of the commodity in the first chapter of Capital, this module explores a range of theoretical accounts of capitalism and examines their significance to the analysis of different cultural forms, including film, literature, and the contemporary visual arts. In doing so, you will consider changing conceptions of ‘culture’ itself, and its varying relations to ideas of art, modernity, production, the mass, autonomy, spectacle, and the culture industry. Key theorists you will study include Theodor Adorno, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Guy Debord, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Fredric Jameson, and Antonio Negri.
Democracy and Islam
This module gives you the opportunity to examine traditional and modern Islamic political thought, relevant perspectives in modern democratic theory and international relations, and selected case studies and various contributions to the debate from inside and outside the Muslim world. You will be steered through the fields of comparative politics, Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and social and political theory, and encouraged to develop a critical understanding of modern democratic theory, assessing the explanations given and providing your own explanations.
Globalisation, Democratisation and Post-Authoritarian Transition
This module investigates the nature and process of ‘transition’ in formerly authoritarian (mainly communist) countries since the beginning of the 1990s. The concept of transition will be explored in a global context, looking at different regions’ particular versions and legacies of authoritarianism. Drawing on comparative politics and international political economy, shifts in the roles of state, civil society and economy will be investigated, as will their political and governmental implications.
You will be introduced to the different theories of the nature of cross-cultural interaction and of intercultural competence. In the first part of the module you will examine critically different theories of the nature of cultural difference and its impact on cross-cultural interaction. You will also explore theories of the intercultural abilities needed to manage such interaction effectively. In the second part of the module you will apply these theories to specific issues in professional contexts of potential relevance, such as translation, cross-cultural skills and knowledge transfer, and the cross-cultural implications of globalisation.
Reading the Nation
Through this module you will explore ways in which texts can be contextualised and discussed in terms of the concepts and practices of nationalism, and of attempts to understand the nation as a discursive practice. You will address a variety of texts and relate these to theoretical concepts such as nationalism, decolonisation, colonialism and post-colonialism. You will consider how such concepts intersect with issues concerning gender, race and social class. Authors studied include: Howard Brenton, David Hare, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Michael Ondaatje; you will also consider a range of influential theorists, including Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Michel Foucault and Edward Said.
Representing World Cultures
This module examines changing visual representations of world cultures in a range of contexts, specifically, leading London museums and galleries, and their associated websites, programmes and publications. You will look at the role of curators, designers, educators and other workers, and their contributions to the way that cultures are represented. You will also consider post-colonialism and the issues surrounding the representation of non-western cultures in contemporary western institutions. Key issues explored include: artists’ interventions in museums and galleries; collecting the contemporary world; presenting religions; representations of Africa and Asia in London collections; the physical museum space as a cultural document; and visitors as citizens and consumers.
Restorative Justice: Cultures, Integration and Law
This module provides an introduction to the field of restorative justice, covering international, domestic and public aspects of the field, and the main processes involved in dispute prevention and resolution.
The Chinese Media
This module is for you if you have little or no knowledge of the Chinese media, but nevertheless realise that for anyone interested in the media in the world today, some understanding of the biggest national media system is a necessity. The objective is to introduce participants to the Chinese media in the context of a world order changing on account of the growth in wealth and power of several countries, in particular China. The Chinese media are seen as a factor in this, and also as an example of a media system distinct from the Anglo-American, which has often been touted as a model of universal applicability.
This module aims to give you a better understanding of what translation is, how translation is a reflection of its social setting, and what goes on in the mind when a translator translates. Translation Studies has seen rapid growth in recent years, and this module reflects these developments. The topics you will cover include: discourse analysis approaches; equivalence; historical and contemporary translation theories; loss and gain; psycholinguistic approaches; ‘skopos’ theory; the unit of translation; translatability; translating culture; translating ideology; translating literature and sacred texts; and translation and ICT.
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Last updated March 1, 2017