Literary Translation in India: Process, Poetics and Politics

Home/ Literary Translation in India: Process, Poetics and Politics
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline ElectiveSUS1EN2664

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semester 2014

Course Coordinator and Team:Dr.Sanju Thomas

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

Pre-requisites:Students should have working knowledge of one more Indian language other than English.

Aim: The course Literary Translation: Process, Poetics and Politics aims to introduce 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.

Course Outcomes:At the end of the course students would be able to:

  1. Appreciate the process of translation
  2. Begin translating from one language to another
  3. Know the politics of translation
  4. Learn skills of translation that may help them become translators later on
  5. Will promote self-learning as students will have to immerse themselves in doing translations on their own
  6. Learn from their peers and work in groups


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

MODULE 1: Translation in India

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

MODULE 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 the process of self-translation.

MODULE3: The Politics 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.

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.


Period in which the assessment will take place



Mid-semester Exam

End Sep/early Oct




Early Sep



Class Presentation

End Oct/early Nov




Late November



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.


  • “In Our Own Time, On Our Own Terms: ‘Translation in India’”. Translating Others.I.102-119.
  • Asaduddin, M. “Translation and Indian Literature: Some Reflections” Translation Today, 3:1&2. 2006. 1-19.
  • Baker, Mona. “Equivalence at Word Level.” In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. Oxon: Routledge, 1992.
  • Rao, Ranga. ed. “Translation Trauma: Afterword.” That Man on the Road. Contemporary Telugu Short Fiction. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2006.
  • Narang, H.C. “Roasted Chicken versus TanduriMurga: Problems of Translating Chinua Achebe into Hindi.” Literary Translation. Ed R.S. Gupta. New Delhi: Creative Books, 1999. 131-138.
  • Mukherjee, Sujit. Translation as Discovery. New Delhi: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1981. Ketkar, Sachin “Translation of Bhakti Poetry into English: A Case Study of Narsinh Mehta”. Translation Today. III: 1 & 2. March and Oct 2006. 249-269. Deshpande, Gauri. “Translating Drama: The Experience of Mahanirvan.” Indian Literature. 37: 4 (162) (July-August, 1994). 157-162.
  • Tanvir, Habib. KamdeokaApna, Vasant RitukaSapna. Act I. Scene 2. Vani Prakashan.2001. 6- 11.
  • Translation and Multilingualism: Smita AgarwalGopinathan, G. “Translation, Transcreation and
  • Culture: The Evolving Theories of Translation in Hindi and Other Modern Indian
  • Languages.” Web. Politics and Translation: Aditya Kumar Panda
  • Jones, William, Cannon, Garland and Pandey, Siddheshwar. “Sir William Jones Revisited: On His Translation of the Śakuntalā.”Journal of the American Oriental Society. 96: 4 (Oct. – Dec., 1976). 528-535. Mishtake, The Great Divide by Manto. Translated by Khalid Hassan
  • Bhalla, Alok. “The Politics of Translation: Manto’s Partition Stories and Khalid Hassan’s English Version.” Social Scientist. 29:7/8 (Jul. - Aug., 2001). 19-38.
  • Kafanby Premchand. (+ Translations)
  • Karikalan, Irathina. “Oorakali.” Trans.HephzibahTranslating Caste. New Delhi: Katha. 2002. 1-10.
  • Israel. Hephzibah.“Oorakali: A Reading.” Translating Caste. New Delhi: Katha. 2002. 114-121.
  • Sivanarayanan, Anushiya andRajkumar,N. T. “Translating Tamil Dalit poetry”. World Literature Today. 78:2 (May - Aug., 2004). 56-58.
  • Guttal, Vijaya. “Translation as Empowerment.” Translation Today. 2:2. October. 183-194.
  • Trivedi, Harish.“Translating Culture vs. Cultural Translation.” Translation and Culture – Indian Perspectives. Ed. GJV Prasad. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2010. 188-199.
  • In addition to these readings short literary passages, poems, songs, cartoon strips etc will be used for translation exercises. Modification to this list is done according to the language expertise of the students. Some of the texts are listed below:

Joke: Kitneaadmi the?

Songs: SasuralGhendaPhool

Oh! Susanna!

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Idioms and Proverbs

Poems: Thodisiumeedchahiye

The Arrow and the Song