Literary Translation in Contemporary India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSUS1EN2794

Semester and Year Offered: 6th Semester (Winter Semester 2020)

Course Coordinator and Team: Sanju Thomas

Email of course coordinator: sanju[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Working knowledge in one more Indian language other than English

Aim: The course aims to introduce the students to the interesting area of literary translation. The importance of translation is experienced in more ways than one in a multicultural globalised world. In India, translation is an everyday, unconscious activity which operates at various levels. The course attempts to look at the basic concepts and issues of translation with special reference to India. Some topics of discussions will be around the debates of loyalty and creativity, the various approaches to translation, specific issues related to literary translation, the translator’s role, self-translation, and the politics of translation. The course will involve practical exercises to identify the problems faced in the process of translation and the steps that are taken to negotiate between the source text and the target text. This course is limited only to English translations from Indian languages and it would help if the student has a working knowledge of one more Indian language other than English.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1. Introduction: Translation in India

This module will talk about the history of translation in India, and also problematise the concept of translation as we understand it now.

2. The Process and Poetics of Translation

This module takes the student through the process of translation. It deals with the search of equivalence when dealing with different languages and the translation strategies that are widely used by translators. The module also highlights the relationship between author, translator, editor and reader, and also takes up the process of self-translation.

3. ThePolitics of Translation

This module looks at the manipulative, subversive and empowering roles of translation. It deals with the translator’s role in a globalised world, where the struggle between the centre and margins is a continuous process. The module will look at the relationship between translation and colonialism, translation and gender, and translation and caste.

In addition to the readings short literary passages, poems, songs, cartoon strips etc. will be used for translation exercises.

Assessment Details with weights:


S. No.


Period in which the assessment will take place



Mid-semester Exam








Class Presentation





Early May



For presentation students will present a critique of an existing translation of any text of their choice. Portfolio will contain translation exercises with a commentary on translation. Students will also be expected to take up translation of a literary piece of considerable length of their choice, along with their detailed translator’s note.