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.