CTIS is the University's research centre dedicated to translation and interpreting studies and is home to a vibrant community of doctoral, early-career and more experienced researchers.

Research training

CTIS organises a number of research training events each year that are specifically designed to meet the needs of our doctoral students of translation and interpreting.

The events typically take the form of half-day masterclasses, where the scholar leading the session raises issues relating to theoretical and methodological challenges involved in the study of translation and interpreting at the doctoral level, with substantial time allocated to discussion and to address questions relating to students' specific concerns.

Previous masterclasses have been led by Michaela Wolf, Maria Tymoczko, Theo Hermans, Juliane House, Ubaldo Stecconi, Dorothy Kenny, Sandra Halverson, Andrew Chesterman, Robert Barsky, Rebecca Tipton, Ian Mason, Carol O'Sullivan, Sue-Ann Harding, and Kaisa Koskinen, among others.

More details can be found below on upcoming and previous masterclasses.


Rethinking Translation in Institutions

Ji-Hae Kang, Ajou University
In recent decades translation in institutional settings has become a vibrant area of study in Translation Studies. Topics that have been addressed by researchers are diverse, ranging from the ways in which translation and translators are embedded within the processes through which institutions govern and control to the use translation as a way to uphold equality, justice, transparency, and the right to information. Research findings have also enriched our understanding of how translators’ agency may affect the ways in which institutions operate and function. Although researchers acknowledge the growing complexity of institutional translation, research in this area mostly remains driven by assumptions and concepts that have been developed to account for professional translation taking place in international/supranational organizations or government bodies. This approach raises problems in accounting for the diverse forms of translation that takes place within and across institutions, public and private alike, in various parts of the world, and the changes in the ways in which institutions approach, carry out, and use translation as a result of more recent political, economic, and technological developments.
The masterclass is an interactive session which will include discussions of issues and challenges for research on institutional translation. Drawing on a body of interdisciplinary scholarship, this session will problematize some existing approaches to institutional translation and will argue that institutional translation cannot be conceptualized merely in terms of international organizations or government agencies. It will engage with conceptual issues such as whether the range meaning associated with institutional translation needs to extended or delimited. The masterclass will also consider the connection between the changes in the function and operation of institutions within which the planning, implementation, regulation and evaluation of translation takes place on the one hand, and the ways in which institutions approach and use translation on the other. Issues related to the recent use of volunteer translators and machine translation systems by institutions will be discussed, and participants will be invited to reflect on the ethical and professional implications of these developments.   
Ji-Hae Kang is Professor of Translation Studies at Ajou University in South Korea and Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies (CTIS) at the University of Manchester in the UK. Her research focuses on translation and interpreting in institutional settings, issues of power, identity and discourse in transnational exchanges, and the interplay between translation and digital culture. She is co-editor of Translating and Interpreting in Korean Contexts: Engaging with Asian and Western Others (in press, Routledge, with Judy Wakabayashi) and guest-editor of a special issue of Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice on Translation in Institutions (2014). She is author of many articles that have been published in such leading journals as The Translator, Target, META, Perspectives, Korean Association of Translation Studies (KATS) Journal.

Investigating Translation Activity in Publishers’ Archives: Methodological Challenges and Case Studies

Sara Sullam, Milan University/University of Reading
As latest research has demonstrated, in the twentieth century the “mediation of publishing” became as relevant an institution as literary criticism in the definition of a literary canon, be it domestic, national, or transnational. Over the last decade, therefore, benefitting from the increasing availability of material preserved in publishers’ archives, scholars have started to investigate the crucial nexus between the history of a text and the history of a book to understand how a work of literature takes shape.
In this perspective, investigations on literary translation have proficiently integrated cultural translation studies and book history. For scholars working at the intersection between these two disciplinary fields, publishers’ archives have become a crucial site of investigation and research. Yet the complex methodological framework underpinning this kind of research is still being fully elaborated.
After introducing the problem, the masterclass will address issues and challenges related to research on translation in publishers’ archives. In particular, it will focus on the diverse materials available and on their function for an integrated study of literary transfer. To do so, the masterclass will present relevant case studies concerning the evaluation, translation and promotion of Italian fiction by British publishers in the period 1945-1965.
Sara Sullam is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Milan University and British Academy Visiting Fellow at the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies of the University of Reading. She has authored a number of articles on the reception of Modernism within the Italian literary field. She is also active as professional reader and translator for major Italian publishers. Her most recent translations include Joyce’s Lettere e saggi (with Enrico Terrinoni, 2016) and Joan Didion’s After Henry (2017) and Where I Was From (2018).

How To Write Translation History

Theo Hermans, UCL

Translation history received only intermittent attention in past decades, but is currently popular again. Several substantial historical surveys have appeared in recent years, including some multi-volume works. Methodological reflection, however, has lagged behind. Anthony Pym’s Method in Translation History (1998) is still the only book-length treatment of the subject, although various scholars have addressed individual issues in a range of essays. In the seminar I will begin by setting out my own stake in this discussion, before going into some of the standard questions concerning periodization, agency and the possibility of a transnational translation history. The main part of the seminar will involve an invitation to think about the relation between translation and history in more comprehensive terms. Perhaps the history of translation is the easy part? What about the translation of history? How much history tends to go into particular translations? In thinking about the role of translation in history, are we thinking primarily about history or about translation? The aim is to address questions like these interactively.

Theo Hermans is Professor Emeritus in Translation Studies at University College London (UCL) and an Honorary Research Fellow in CTIS. Until recently he was Director of the UCL Centre for Translation Studies. His main research interests concern the theory and history of translation. His monographs include Translation in Systems (1999) and The Conference of the Tongues (2007).

Revisiting Methods in Translation History: Shaping Military Translation and Interpreting Cultures

Michaela Wolf, University of Graz

In the past decade or so, translation history has emerged as a distinct sub-discipline of translation and interpreting studies. A great and still increasing number of publications, along with large-scale academic activities such as conferences or graduate programmes, testify to the importance attached to the topic today – yet the methodologies adopted in translation history research still seem to be an under-charted field.

In this masterclass, I will first discuss some general problems inherent to the study of the history of translation. I will then focus on two research models: “histoire croisée” (as developed mainly by Bénédicte Zimmermann and Michael Werner) and Erving Goffman’s “dramaturgical model”. A case study on military translation cultures in German prisoner-of-war camps in Finland during the Second World War will elucidate these models’ potential and allow us to critically assess their use.

The Implications of Neuroscience for Translation Theory and Pedagogy

Maria Tymoczko, University of Massachusetts

Maria Tymoczko is a Professor of Comparative Literature and an eminent translation theorist who has published widely on many topics in translation studies. She is author of Translation in a Postcolonial Context (1999) and Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators (2007), among other works, and editor of several volumes, including Translation and Power (2002, with Edwin Gentzler) and Translation, Resistance, Activism (2010). The masterclass will draw on some material from her forthcoming book, Translation, Multilingualism, and Neuroscience.

Ethics in Researching Digital Media

Adi Kuntsman, Manchester Metropolitan University

The masterclass will address ethnical issues in carrying out research on the Internet and in other digital environments such as social media.

The masterclass will cover several key ethical issues (entering the field; privacy and anonymity; and representation of findings) and the ways they are challenged and transformed in on-line environments; differ according to specific platforms (forums, blogs, social networks) and political and cultural contexts; and change over time.

Reconfiguring Schleiermacher: Plato, Hermeneutics and Translation

Theo Hermans, UCL and University of Manchester

Among students of translation Schleiermacher’s 1813 lecture ‘On the Different Methods of Translating’ has become famous for contrasting domesticating with foreignising translation (‘bringing the foreign author to the reader’ versus ‘taking the reader to the foreign author’).

In my opinion, however, Schleiermacher’s lecture is not about this dichotomy at all. I argue that the lecture is neither more nor less than the application of the principles of hermeneutics to translation, and that Schleiermacher developed his hermeneutic theory largely as a result of translating Plato.

This masterclass invites you on a journey of rediscovery and transformation. During the class we look at Schleiermacher’s Plato and go on to explore the connection with his hermeneutics. We end with a re-reading of the 1813 lecture with a focus on two key passages.

Initial reading:

The original German text of Schleiermacher’s 1813 lecture is available online.

English translations are available in:

  • Translating Literature. The German Tradition, ed. André Lefevere. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1977.
  • Western Translation Theory, ed. Douglas Robinson. Manchester: St Jerome, 1997, 2002.
  • The Translation Studies Reader, ed. Lawrence Venuti. London & New York: Routledge, 2000, 2004, 2012.

Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Recent Developments in Social Learning Theory

Étienne Wenger

Learning is often viewed as something individuals do as they acquire information and skills. It is usually associated with some form of instruction.

I will present a different perspective on learning, one that starts with the assumption that learning is an inherent dimension of everyday life and that it is fundamentally a social process. From this perspective, a living “body of knowledge” can be viewed as a collection of communities of practice. Learning is not merely the acquisition of a curriculum, but a journey across this landscape of practice, which is transformative of the self.

Achieving a high level of "knowledgeability" is a matter of negotiating a productive identity with respect to the various communities of practice that constitute this landscape.

This interactive masterclass will review the main elements of this learning theory ways as well as more recent developments. Then we will explore the implications for the research of participants.

From Historical to Sociological approaches: Fieldwork in Translation Studies

Kaisa Koskinen (University of Eastern Finland)

Sociology of translation has been one of the success stories in contemporary translation studies. However, it is not always clear how it is understood among those who identify themselves within this label and how it differs from an earlier – and still existing – trend of historical research.

In my talk I will discuss these blurred divisions and then focus on one clear differentiating factor between sociological and historical research: the possibility of gaining first-hand experience and gathering information on the site of research by doing fieldwork. To demonstrate the many faces and degrees of personal engagement available for researchers interested in doing fieldwork, I will briefly introduce three case studies in which I have been involved.

Theory, Data and the Work of Research

Sue-Ann Harding (University of Manchester)

This masterclass is intended to be a frank and informal exploration of some of the high-level skills and thought processes demanded of students engaged in the work of Translation and Interpreting Studies research.

Reviewing relevant scholarly literature, identifying and claiming a research space, selecting data, engaging with theory, applying theory to data, formulating research questions, understanding methodology, structuring analysis, writing effectively, and drawing conclusions are all crucial components of the work of research with which new researchers grapple - often in (painful!) isolation - as they struggle to master them and complete a doctoral thesis.

Based on Dr. Harding sharing her own experiences as a doctoral candidate and a post-doc research associate working with social narrative theory in the analysis of text (online reportage) and visual and multi-modal media (Russian television), and with a particular focus on the dynamic relationship between theory and data, the session is designed to “unpack” some of the mysteries and difficulties surrounding these essential skills.

It is hoped that the workshop will assist participants in finding creative solutions to the problems encountered in their own work, and encourage students in their continued pursuit of excellence.

In Praise of the Variant: Textual Scholarship and Translation Research

Carol O’Sullivan (University of Portsmouth)

This session will look at problems of textuality and textual scholarship in Translation Studies.

The issue of textual variants is a fascinating one for translators, since the practice of translation itself operates a series of translation shifts which place two texts in a relationship of source and target but never identity.

This complex relationship may be rendered even more complex by textual instability or indeterminacy of various kinds.

Paratext is an important tool for the researcher, but in situations of censorship the covert nature of textual manipulation may present problems.

Textual scholarship in film is complicated by the ephemerality of film materials and the logistical challenges of archival research.

The web poses a further set of textual/methodological conundrums for the researcher.

Primary material for this session will be drawn from a number of different media (print texts, film) and genres (poetry, fiction, political texts, feature films).

The theoretical framework will draw on Genettian notions of paratext as well as work on the history of the book to argue that textual variants are both a problem and an opportunity for the translation researcher.

Research Methods in Dialogue Interpreting Studies

Ian Mason (Heriot-Watt University)

This workshop is intended to assist doctoral students investigating face-to-face interpreting phenomena. It will focus on the possibilities and problems of empirical investigation into social encounters involving interpreters and will relate these to some contributions from social theory. More specifically, it will confront and contrast the ethnomethodological approach of conversation analysis (e.g. Schegloff) with the social-theoretic stance of critical discourse analysis and then review critiques of both of these approaches.

Distinguishing between introspective, analytic and experimental methods of investigation, we shall consider particular examples of (participant) observation (Wenger 1998), the use of interviews (Angelelli 2004) and experimentation (Berk-Seligson 1990) and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Issues having to do with the collection of naturally occurring data, the use of such data and the politics of transcription (cf. Bucholtz 2000) will also be explored. At each stage participants will be invited to make judgements about claims and data samples, devise research questions and select appropriate methods of investigation.

Although the workshop is designed from the perspective of research into dialogue interpreting, most of what is discussed is of equal relevance to those investigating the interpreting of monologue.


  • Angelelli, Claudia (2004) Medical Interpreting and Cross-Cultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Berk-Seligson, Susan (1990) The Bilingual Courtroom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Bucholtz, Mary (2000) 'The politics of transcription', Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1439-1465.
  • Schegloff, Emmanuel (1997) 'Whose text? Whose context?', Discourse and Society 8 (2): 165-87.
  • Wenger, Etienne (1998) Communities of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Circulation of Literary Works between Cultures: Social Conditions and Obstacles

Gisèle Sapiro, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France

The sociology of translation has emerged in the past decade as a research area, inspired by Bourdieu's article on the "social condition of the circulation of ideas".

A specific form of international cultural exchanges and transfers, translation has become since the mid 19th century the main vehicle for the circulation of texts among cultures.

While translation studies has done much to analyse the norms and issues at stake in these transfers, the sociology of translation explores their social conditions, focusing on flows, institutions, actors (translators, publishers, literary agents, state representatives...), networks, and fields.

The masterclass will focus on the empirical approach and methodology developed in several surveys on literary translation in the era of globalization.  


  • Sapiro, Gisèle (201 0) 'Globalization and Cultural Diversity in the Book Market: The Case of Literary Translations in the US and in France' (2010) Poetics 38: 419-439. 
  • Sapiro, Gisèle (2008) 'Translation and the Field of Publishing: A Commentary on Pierre Bourdieu's 'A Conservative Revolution in Publishing', Translation Studies 1(2): 154-166.
  • Sapiro, Gisèle (2003) 'The Literary Field between the State and the Market', Poetics 31: 442-464.

The Case Study Methodology in Translation Studies

Kathryn Batchelor (University of Nottingham)

The case study is currently one of the most widely used research methods within translation studies, forming the basis of many journal articles, postgraduate theses and books.

This workshop explores the practicalities of carrying out a case study, giving importance to the identification of pertinent research question(s), the delimitation of the study (in terms of the size and boundaries of the corpus), and the contextualisation of material.

The workshop aims to show students how to avoid some of the classic 'traps' into which case studies sometimes fall. These include the tendency to exclude material that does not support the working hypothesis of the study, as well as to draw general conclusions in a way which is often problematic.

The issue of generalisation as it relates to case studies is one that has been much discussed in the social sciences, and this workshop will explore the relevance of these discussions to translation studies in some depth.

The overall aim of the workshop is to help students design case studies that are as robust as possible, and will be of use to students using a case study approach in their own work, as well as to those who are seeking to critically assess the power and relevance of particular case studies to other types of translation research. 

Reflexive Sociology and Public Service Interpreting Research: Approaches and Applications

Rebecca Tipton (University of Salford)

This masterclass will examine one of the central issues in the social sciences, namely the separation of knowledge from knower, with specific reference to research in the field of public service interpreting (PSI). It will aim to open up the often 'taken-for-granted' world of the researcher and to consider the primacy of PSI research that presents phenomena as 'out there', with little or no acknowledgement of the researcher's awareness of his or her place in the research experience. This is taken as a starting point for considering the extent to which the 'vitality' of the research process remains obscured in research accounts in the field and the potential impact this has on elucidating the 'truth' about a particular phenomenon.

Taking a constructionist standpoint, the masterclass will explore approaches to the study of social life that allow account to be taken of processes (e.g. observational, biographical) which impact on the 'construction' of the particular phenomenon under discussion, processes that are considered reflexive in nature if the researcher is placed within his or her inquiry. Consideration will first be given to the extent to which social constructionist approaches to the study of social life can encompass reflexivity, before providing examples of methodologies that do engage with reflexivity. The discussion is informed by the work of scholars such as Steier (1991), Susen (2007) and Bourdieu and Wacquant (1992), among others. Examples taken from fieldwork conducted in the social services and that focuses on the relationship between the interpreter and service provider will be used to illustrate the potential value of reflexive approaches to the sociology of public service interpreting.


  • Bourdieu, Pierre and Loïc J.D. Wacquant (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, Oxford: Polity Press.
  • Steier, Frederick (ed.) (1991) Research and Reflexivity, London, Newbury Park, and New Delhi: Sage Publications.
  • Susen, Simon (2007) The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology, Oxford: The Bardwell Press.

Approaches to the Contextualisation of 'Activist' Translation

Robert Barsky (Vanderbilt University, USA)

This master class will focus on the "construction" of the persona that occurs in the course of face-to-face interaction, employing relevant theoretical work (Goffman, Bourdieu, Austin, Bakhtin) to foreground the con-textual aspect of translation and interpretation.

Drawing on examples from a range of different interpretative settings - including homelessness, refugee hearings, face-to-face dealing with illegal immigrants, as well as literary examples - Professor Barsky will describe an approach that emphasizes the dialogic relations between the translator and the audience to the dialogue.

This kind of approach offers significant challenges, because it demands that the translator truly become an active 'interpreter', not only of linguistic signs, but of 'face' (Goffman), 'symbolic power' relations (Bourdieu), on-going and anticipated 'speech acts' (Austin) and the dialogic answerability of parties to the conversation.

To develop a coherent methodology in light of these deeply subjective relations is akin to anticipating a 'reader-response', because it demands of the researcher, just as it does of the translator, that she be aware of what kinds of preconceptions she brings to the interpretative process, and how they evolve in the course of the research and the actual translation.

This training will provide an overview of each approach, and aims to contribute to an awareness on the part of researchers of the many processes involved in transforming the translator into an active interpreter who can move both beyond and more seriously into the linguistic signs, and the con-text that provides or supplements their meaning.

A Social Constructionist Approach to Studying Frames and Metaphors in Translation

Dr Mario Bisiada, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

The cognitivist approach to metaphor based on Lakoff and colleagues is doubtlessly the most widespread framework in studies of metaphor, to the extent that researchers embarking on studies of metaphor almost feel compelled to adopt it (witness its rather brazen self-renaming as “contemporary metaphor theory”). This is surprising because, outside the domain of discourse and corpus-assisted translation studies, Lakoff and followers’ cognitivist theory and radical rejection of semantics has met with severe criticism, on such simple grounds as logical errors, straw man argumentation, serious misreadings of sources and vague theorising. While even most researchers working in the cognitive paradigm now agree that Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) in its original form is untenable, the mentalist assignment of meaning to individual mental representations remains largely unchallenged, and even the most recent theories seem to be guided by the intent to salvage CMT by extending and complicating it with ever more levels of analysis and terminology to address the lack of space for cultural differences in it. On the most basic level, if meaning is based on mental representations based on individual embodied experience, how we can we know that our meanings are the same as someone else’s? Thought is considered to be “imaginative”, in that those concepts which are not directly grounded in experience employ metaphor to allow for abstract thought, but if I have never experienced something, directly or indirectly by being told, can I imagine it?

Guided by the belief that it’s better to challenge established views than to dogmatically accept them, I adopt a provocative position by challenging the cognitivist approach to metaphor and to meaning in general. I will summarise existing critiques of Conceptual Metaphor Theory, arguing that Translation Studies provides an especially useful approach because it forces us to look at the linguistic data available to us rather than at constructs of mind representations. I will then present another approach suggested in the literature and connect it to a social constructionist view of language to support a social discursive alternative to the cognitive paradigm: I will argue, and hope to discuss in the group, that such an approach is better equipped to explain meaning. If meaning is only in the discourse (Teubert 2010) and discourse constructs social reality, this poses fundamental questions for translation: does meaning reside in the mind or in social practice? What would a social constructionist approach demand of translators?

MA programmes

Members of CTIS also deliver MA programmes in translation, interpreting and intercultural studies.