MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation

The MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation is a nine-month, interdisciplinary course designed to give you critical, theoretical and research expertise in the intersecting fields of comparative and world literature and translation studies.

The MSt is attached to Oxford’s research centre in Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) and builds on the recent growth in scholarly awareness of the importance of translation to comparative and world literary study. This is what is meant by ‘critical translation’: not translator training, but rather an interest in the role played by translation and re-writing in literary history, and an alertness to the uses of translation in critical practice.

The core course will introduce you to key topics in comparative and world literature and translation studies, and give you the skills needed to develop your own arguments and pursue original research. It is taught by a weekly lecture and seminar in weeks 1-6 of Michaelmas (autumn) and Hilary (spring) terms. You will give presentations in the seminars (usually twice each term), and write a short practice essay (2,000-4,000 words) at the end of Michaelmas term: these formative assignments will not affect your degree result. Assessment is by a 4,000 word essay written at the end of Hilary term.

Here is an indicative list of the topics covered in the core course, though please note that it may alter somewhat from year to year: histories of comparison; theories of comparison; worlds of comparison; figures; genres and forms; migration, travel and encounter; translation studies and comparative literatures; translation and transmediality; translation and circulation; translingual and multilingual texts; untranslatables and universals; translational critical practices.

You will take one option course in Michaelmas term and one option course in Hilary term. These options are chosen from a wide range available in the faculties of Medieval and Modern Languages, English Language and Literature, and Oriental Studies: for an indicative list please see section 4.5 of the draft course handbook (see link in the right-hand margin); though please note that the options available will vary from year to year. Teaching for an option consists of regular 1-1 or small-group meetings, with feedback being given as appropriate; assessment is by written work of up to 7,000 words, to be submitted after the end of the term in which the option has been taught. Your options must focus on literature in different languages (eg, Arabic in one term, English in the other; or French in one term, Russian in the other). Some options span more than one language: in such cases, the course convenor will advise you so that your choices cover an appropriate range.

Your dissertation may be on any comparative topic that involves your two languages of focus. You will work closely with a supervisor, starting at the end of Michaelmas term and continuing through Hilary term, though the bulk of the work will be concentrated in Trinity (summer) term. Your 10,000-12,000 word dissertation will be due in at the end of Trinity term.

If you wish, you may also choose to study another language at the university’s language centre. This opportunity is free of charge for students taking the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation, though it is not an assessed part of your MSt course.

Further information and guidance on the admissions process, including entry requirements, can be found on the Graduate Admissions page. You may also wish to look at the draft Course Handbook.

Course Structure

The core course will consist of one lecture (1 hour) and one seminar (2 hours) each week during Michaelmas Term weeks 1-6 and Hilary Term weeks 1-6. This course is taught by the Convenor and Co-convenors, along with other specialists as appropriate. It will introduce you to key topics and issues in comparative literature and critical translation, and give you the skills needed to develop your own arguments and pursue your own research.

The lectures, which are open to anyone in the university, will present key topics and offer arguments about them.

The seminars, which are restricted to students taking the MSt CLCT, will include close textual work, training in relevant research skills, and the opportunity to develop and critique the ideas and materials presented in the lectures.

Here is an indicative list of the topics covered in the core course, though please note that it may alter somewhat from year to year: histories of comparison; theories of comparison; worlds of comparison; figures; genres and forms; migration, travel and encounter; translation studies and comparative literatures; translation and transmediality; translation and circulation; translingual and multilingual texts; untranslatables and universals; translational critical practices.

You will take one option course in Michaelmas Term  and one option course in Hilary Term. The options are provided by the three Faculties that participate in the MSt CLCT – Oriental Studies, Medieval and Modern Languages, and English Language and Literature – and they enable you to work alongside students following other Masters courses within those Faculties. For an indicative list of options, please see section 4.6 of the sample course handbook (see link in the right-hand margin of this page), though please note that the options available may vary from year to year.  

Your options must focus on literature in different languages (eg Arabic in Michaelmas Term, English in Hilary Term) but they may be from the same Faculty (eg Hebrew in Michaelmas and Japanese in Hilary, or Russian in Michaelmas and French in Hilary). Some options may span more than one language: in such cases, the Course Convenor will give you advice to make sure that your choices cover an appropriate range.

Your dissertation (10,000-12,000 words) must be on a comparative topic which involves your two main languages of study; it may include the critical analysis of translations. You will confirm your topic with the Course Convenor by the middle of Michaelmas term; have an initial meeting with your dissertation supervisor at the end of that term; and then pursue your research during the rest of the year, working especially intensively in Trinity Term. The  dissertation will be due in at noon on Monday of 8th week of Trinity Term.

If you wish, you may also choose to study another language at the university’s language centre. This opportunity is free of charge for students taking the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation, though it is not an assessed part of your MSt course.    

Assessment

Formative assessment is provided in the following ways:

A. The Core Course Discussion of your ideas in the seminars; oral and written feedback from the seminar leader on each of your presentations; a 1-1 tutorial with the Course Convenor, early in Hilary Term, to discuss the essay you will have written after the end of the Michaelmas term core course teaching.
B. Two Options Discussion of your ideas in tutorials and/or seminars; feedback on at least one piece of written work during the term’s teaching, before you embark on your examined essay.
C: The Dissertation Discussion of drafts with your supervisor; presentation at seminar day in Trinity Term.

The course is assessed in the following ways:

A. The Core Course Assessment of the Core Course is by a take-home examination paper. The paper will require you to write an essay, of up to 4,000 words, that answers one of a list of questions relating to topics covered in the course. The paper will be released on Weblearn at noon on Thursday of the sixth week of Hilary Term and a link will be emailed to you by the Course Administrator. The answer will be due in by noon on Thursday of the eighth week of Hilary Term
B. Two Options Each option course is both taught and examined within one of the faculties that participate in the MSt CLCT: Oriental Studies, Medieval and Modern Languages, and English Language and Literature. The details will vary according to the faculty and topic but, for all options, summative assessment will consist of written work of up to 7,000 words, to be submitted after the end of the term in which the option has been taught.
C: The Dissertation An essay of between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length, to be submitted in the last week of Trinity Term.

 

Tutors and teaching

The MSt is organised by the following tutors, who also do most of the teaching on the core course: 

Professor Matthew Reynolds (Faculty of English Language and Literature). Course convenor.

Professor Adriana Jacobs (Faculty of Oriental Studies). Co-convenor.

Professor Ben Morgan (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages). Co-convenor.

Options and dissertations may be taught by members of the three participating faculties:

Oriental Studies

Medieval and Modern Languages

English Language and Literature

 

 

Research Culture

You will be able to participate in the rich research culture of Oxford’s Comparative Criticism and Translation research centre (OCCT). This includes the lively postgraduate-led discussion group, regular research seminars and workshops, the public events of Oxford Translation Day, and lectures by the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor in Comparative European Literature (recent incumbents have included Javier Cercas, Ali Smith, Mario Vargas Llosa, Elif Shafak and Umberto Eco).

You will have common room / study space in the centre. The academic mentor and the graduate teaching assistant who are attached to the course will help you to orient yourself in the research culture of OCCT and the wider university; and you will present your dissertation work-in-progress at a seminar day organised jointly with the OCCT discussion group in Trinity term.

You will also be able to attend seminars and other events from across the faculties of Medieval and Modern Languages, English Language and Literature and Oriental Studies, thereby encountering a wide range of leading writers, critics, and theorists from within and beyond the University.

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