Trends in Translation: an exclusive masterclass at the University of Cambridge

2 May 2017
Trends in Translation masterclass participants

Participants had special opportunity to learn from award-winning translators

On 27 April, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Embassy in London, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in cooperation with the University of Cambridge hosted an exclusive masterclass for the UK’s most promising undergraduate students to become the next generation of translators into English.

The group of ten finalists from Higher Education Institutions across the UK met at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge on 27 April to participate in a one-day Masterclass with eminent, award-winning translators Shaun Whiteside and Frank Wynne as well as founder and publisher of Fitzcarraldo Editions Jacques Testard at Magdalene College Cambridge.

Out of a very large pool of applicants the chosen candidates distinguished themselves by their proficiency in either French or German (translation) or both and were thus received the special opportunity to further strengthen their translation skills and learn about the tricks of the translation trade from three experts. The Masterclass focused on hands-on experience in translating literary texts from German / French into English, group discussions on new perspectives and trends in translation between German, French and English, one-to-one discussions with the professional translators regarding the translation industry and an understanding of translation as a career option in the publishing world.

After the workshop the students were given an insight into campus life at Magdalene College on a trilingual tour and were granted a look into the famous Samuel Pepys Library and the Old Library at Magdalene College with its collection of book fair catalogues e.g. from the Frankfurt Book Fair from the 17th century.

The winners

From the Masterclass participants, two students were selected as the winners of the final prize of 'Trends in Translation’' The two winners – Adam Hill, University of Cambridge, and James William Keighley, University of Leeds – will go on a one-day funded trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair (11-15 October) 2017.

Student feedback on the Masterclass

"I thoroughly enjoyed the day and would recommend any languages student interested in translation to apply. The masterclass provided me with an insight into an industry that I had previously known very little about. The programme was full of variety and maintained a good balance between talks and hands-on exercises. The translators painted an entertaining picture of what their work involved and also had a wealth of practical trips to pass on. I also found it very interesting to meet languages students at other university to learn how their course differed from mine. I am now very keen to attend the British Centre for Literary Translation Summer School!"

Adam Hill, participant

"I found the Masterclass to be a productive, informative and thoroughly enjoyable day. The talks with Shaun and Frank provided me with valuable insights into literary translation as a profession, from starting out in the industry to what the work entails and the various text types you could be working with. It was also useful to learn from Jacques Testard of Fitzcarraldo Editions about translation in the publishing industry as another career option. I will use these insights to apply myself with a professional focus in the next step of my education, with a view to starting a career in literary translation upon completion. It was fantastic to meet other undergraduates who share my interest and enthusiasm for translation, and I hope to stay in contact with them and create our own network as future translators."

Francesca Leveridge, participant

"It was great to get some information about the real world of translation, which is something university hasn't really offered so far. Talking to people who had experience in literary translation and hearing what it's like to work in that field was really interesting and useful. It was also helpful to have some more hands-on experience of translation and hear from experts what we were and weren't doing well. Overall it was a fascinating look into translation as a career."

Hannah Korn, participant

  • Shaun Whiteside

    Originally from Northern Ireland, Shaun Whiteside graduated with a First in Modern Languages from King's College, Cambridge. He has translated over fifty books from German, French, Italian and Dutch, including novels by Amélie Nothomb, Luther Blissett, Wu Ming and Marcel Möring. His translations of Freud, Musil, Schnitzler and Nietzsche are published by Penguin Classics, and his translation of Magdalena the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger won the 1996 Schlegel-Tieck Prize. His most recent translations from German are The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky, long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Swansong 1945 by Walter Kempowski and Blitzed - Drugs in the Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler.

  • Frank Wynne

    Born in Sligo, Ireland, Frank Wynne has translated over fifty works from French and Spanish by authors including Michel Houellebecq, Patrick Modiano, Ahmadou Kourouma, Tomás González and Tomás Eloy Martínez. In the course of his career, his translations have earned him a number of accolades, including the IMPAC Prize (2002) for Atomised by Michel Houellebecq, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2005). He has twice been awarded the Scott Moncrieff Prize for French translation (in 2008 and 2016 for Harraga by Boualem Sansal) and twice won the Premio Valle Inclán for Spanish translation (2012 and 2014). His translations of crime fiction have been awarded the CWA International Dagger in four consecutive years. He has been a translator in residence at the Villa Gillet, Lyons, the Santa Maddalena Foundation and at Lancaster University.

  • Jacques Testard

    Jacques Testard is one of the former Commissioning Editors of Notting Hill Editions and co-founder of the journal The White Review. He launched Fitzcarraldo in 2014, a new literary press that publishes fiction and essays from international writers. Recently, he worked on Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett (October 2015), Compass by Mathias Enard, tr. Charlotte Mandell (March 2017) and Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer, tr. Katy Derbyshire (October 2016). Compass is shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

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Trends in Translation

This project is part of a worldwide series of activities taking place in the run-up to France’s invitation to be guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2017.

The first part of the UK events was a session of talks open to publishers interested in translation trends between German, French and English "Triangular Talks" on 13th March 2017 at the Institut français du Royaume-Uni.

It is a co-operation between the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Embassy in London, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, University of Cambridge and the German Academic Exchange Service London (DAAD) as well as the Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair). The project is supported by the Franco-German Cultural Fund.