School of Languages and Cultures

New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation

Te Tumu Whakawhiti Tuhinga o Aotearoa

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The New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation (NZCLT) supports the translation of foreign language writers into English as well as research projects in the theory and practice of literary translation.

The Centre is an innovative and exciting concept that hosts a core group of translators from the Asian and European Languages programmes at Victoria, as well as maintaining links with national and international experts. It was officially launched, in the presence of some 200 guests, on March 3, 2008, by the then Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Helen Clark. The Centre pursues three main aims: 1) to research issues relating to literary translation, particularly of New Zealand writers; 2) to provide support for the translation of our writers' work, in part through the eventual establishment of a translator's residency; and 3) to develop literary translation activities, in both teaching and professional areas.

The work of the Centre is planned and implemented by a Committee – which includes staff members from the School of Languages and Cultures as well as from other academic divisions (currently, the International Institute of Modern Letters and Wai-te-ata Press) – under the leadership of a Director.

Current Director: Dr Marco Sonzogni, Senior Lecturer in Italian (2011-2013).

Founding Director: Dr Jean Anderson, Associate Professor of French (2008-2011).

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At the Centre's launch, the first official publication, Been There, Read That! Stories for the Armchair Traveller (Victoria University Press) was also launched. The anthology contains more than twenty stories from twenty different countries, translated from over a dozen different languages. The anthology is a team effort, involving translators from the School of Language and Cultures, as well as other local and international specialists in language and literature from countries as diverse as Ireland, Iran, Spain, Korea, Vietnam, Austria, Switzerland, Mauritius and Venezuela, to name but a few. More publications have come out since (for further details see the staff profiles of the NZCLT Committee Members) and others are forthcoming.

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Annual Lecture and Seminars

2014 Annual Lecture in Literary Translation Studies

Title: 'Hearing the Voice'

Julie RoseJulie Rose is a world-renowned translator. Her acclaimed translations include Alexandre Dumas' The Knight of the Maison-Rouge and Racine’s Phedre as well as works by the French philosopher Paul Virilio, Jacques Ranciere, Chantal Thomas and others. She has translated essays written by authors including Vaclav Havel, Chantal Thomas on Proust, Jean-Louis Cohen, Hubert Damisch on architecture, Pierre Bourdieu on art and Yannis Tsiomis on high tech architecture.

In 2008 she delivered her English translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. This version of the book – published by Random House (Modern Library) – is the first full original unabridged English translation of the book. Julie Rose is a recipient of the PEN Translation Prize (NSW Premier’s Prize and Medallion for translation).
Hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, the Embassy of France and the Alliance Française

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Past Lectures and Seminars

2013 - The Annual Lecture entitled  'The Secret Life of Dead Languages and the Role of Translation'  was delivered by Diego Marani (Ferrara, Italy, 1959) is a bestselling author, translator, essayist, columnist, and blogger. .

2012 - The Annual Lecture entitled "Six or Seven Beginnings" was delivered by Michael Hofmann, award-winning poet, translator and critic.

2011 - The Annual Lecture was delivered by David Norton, Professor of English at Victoria University and was part of the worldwide celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

2010 - The Annual Lecture was part of the first international conference on literary translation,'Talking Past Each Other, Translating for Each Other'  and consisted of three keynote addresses delivered by Paulo Britto, Professor of English at the Pontificia Universidade Católica (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Lawrence Venuti, Professor of English at Temple University (Philadelphia, USA); and by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University (New York, USA).

2009 - The Annual Lecture was delivered by Brian Boyd, University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Auckland (NZ).

2008 - The Inaugural Annual Lecture was delivered by Breon Mitchell, Professor of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University (Bloomington, USA).

In September and October 2009, under an agreement with the Korea Literature Translation Institute, the Centre welcomed Korean writer-in-residence, Kim Sun-Woo, to work on the translation of some of her poetry. Her books of poems include What If My Tongue Refuses to be Shut Inside My Mouth (2000), I Fall Asleep Under the Peach Blossoms (2003) and Who Sleeps Inside Me? (2007). She has also written essays, which have been collected in When the Moon Under the Water Unlocked (2002), Objects According to Kim Sun-Woo (2005), Sugar-like Kisses Entering My Mouth (2007), and Who Has Laid Inside This Rice Bowl Besides Us? (2007). She is also the author of a book of folk tales for the grown-ups titled Princess Bari (2003). She has received the Contemporary Literature Prize, the Chun Sang-byung Poetry Prize, and other literary awards.

Other distinguished national and international guests of the NZCLT include Bill Manhire, John Milton and Qui Xiaolong.

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Postgraduate Student Research

The Centre hosts a number of postgraduate students, who are working on projects across a range of languages and approaches.

For a list of students, visit the Student Profiles page.

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