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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Translation Studies Concentration

Translation Studies

Translation is the oldest method used in teaching foreign languages. Other new pedagogies have sometimes supplanted it, but it remains at the heart of language teaching, often at the most advanced levels of mastery when nuance, context and the specificity of a language and culture can only be suggested through the trials, errors and impossibility of translation. Today, the difficulties of translating may seem solvable with technological tools, yet a successful translation is more than a mechanical transfer of meaning from one language to another, no matter how advanced the technology. Context, history, culture, ethical considerations, logic, rhetoric and politics all need to be considered and taken into account. Translation is that space where language, culture, history, politics and incommensurable difference all collide and sometimes cohere to make sense. At a time of intensive globalization, when cultures and languages seek common understanding, one could argue that it is an indispensable discipline.


International Poetry Day

The International Poetry Day was created to bring continuity and a sense of community through the poetry and translation concentrations at Smith. Curating Team: Simone Gugliotta (Department of Italian and Department of Spanish and Portuguese), Cristiane Métral (Department of French Studies), Sujane Wu (Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures), Matt Donovan (Poetry Center), Jennifer Blackburn (Curator artist). See this year’s celebration in a virtual form.

Translation in the Hispanic and Lusophone World

Translation in the Hispanic and Lusophone World explores the fundamental role of translation and translators in the construction of cultures and identities in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, including Iberia, Latin America, Africa and the United States. 

Reyes Lazaro Interview on Spanish Television

Reyes Lazaro, associate professor of Spanish and director of the Translation Studies Concentration, spoke with Castilla-La Mancha TV in Spain about Miguel de Cervantes. The interview begins at 41:20.

Translation as a Political Act

Carolyn Shread, a Five College lecturer in French studies and comparative literature, shares thoughts about translation as a political act. Visit the Mount Holyoke College website to read the interview.


The requirements for the concentration are deliberately flexible to allow you to pursue the translation practice that most suits your interests or needs—from literary to technical translation to the ethical complexities that arise in interpretation.

You can count no more than three of the academic courses for both the concentration and your major. These courses may be taken within the Five Colleges or while abroad. In addition to the required courses below, you must demonstrate an achievement (300 or above level) in the foreign language from which you translate.

Gateway Course

CLT 150: The Art of Translation (2 credits, S/U, offered every spring semester)


  • One course with a focus on translation theory, translation or practice (4 credits)
  • Two courses in the language/literature/culture of the foreign language (8 credits)*
  • One elective in translation studies, linguistics, the foreign language or one elective that focuses on problems of language (4 credits)

*Students whose native language is not English may take courses in English language/literature/culture to satisfy this requirement.

Capstone Seminar

TSX 330/CLT 330: Translation Across Borders

The capstone seminar brings together a cohort of concentrators to discuss the final translation project that each student undertakes with the guidance of their mentor in the concentration and to situate the project within the framework of larger questions that the work of translation elicits. The seminar readings will focus on renowned practitioners' reflections on the difficulties and complexities of translating, the obstacles, discoveries and solutions that the translator encounters. We will read a series of essays that engage with the conflicting interpretations and nuances of translations in 14 languages of Ferdinand Oyonos' iconic 1956 African novel, Une vie de boy. We will compare how these translations transform the original novel and question the concept of original text as it interacts with the culture and the language into which it is translated. As part of the capstone seminar, and in consultation with your faculty mentor, you will work on a final translation project (10 pages minimum, depending on the type of translation) with a substantial introduction that reflects on the obstacles, difficulties and successes of the task of translation.

In some cases, an honors thesis that either is a translation or reflects on translation, can be substituted for the capstone translation project.



The following is a sample of possible courses, which should be chosen in consultation with your concentration adviser. Not all of these courses are offered each year. Consult the current course catalogs to check availability.

Smith College

ANT 352 Seminar in Anthropology: Politics of Language
CLS 260 Transformations of a Text: Shape-Shifting and Translation
WLT 204 Queering Don Quixote
WLT 177 Journeys in World Literatures: Dwelling Poetically
WLT 177/SPP 177 Naughty Fictional Translators: Don Quijote to Borges
WLT 271 Writing in Translation: Bilingualism in the Postcolonial Novel
WLT 272/ENG 171 Composing a Self: Chinese and English Voices
WLT 300 Literary Theory and Literary Practice: Conflicts and Consensus
ENG 135 Introduction to Writing Creative Nonfiction Chinese-English Literary and Cultural Translation 
FYS 174 Merging and Converging Cultures: What is Gained and Lost in Translation
IDP/SPN 291 Digital Storytelling
ITL/SPN/POR/FRN 299 Teaching Romance Languages: Theories and Techniques on Second Language Acquisition
ITL 340: Theory and Practice of Translation


Amherst College

EUST 303 and ENGL320 Literature as Translation
FREN 326 Writing Under the Influence: Italy and the Literature of Renaissance France

Hampshire College

CS-0211-1 Language, Space and the Absurd

Mount Holyoke College

ANTHR-230 Language in Culture and Society
FREN-361 TR1 Atelier de Trade
ROMLG-375 cross listed as SPAN-360, ITAL-361, FREN-321 Romance Languages Translate
SPAN-360BL Studies in Language and Society: An Introduction: Being Bilingual

University of Massachusetts Amherst

COMP-LIT 130 Translation Matters
COMP-LIT 330 Translation, Cross-Cultural Communication and the Media
COMP-LIT 551 Translation and Technology
COMP-LIT 481/681 Interpreting and Translation - Research and Practice I
COMP-LIT 482/682 Interpreting and Translation - Research and Practice II
(Civic Engagement and Service Learning designated course)
COMP-LIT 691RS Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Translation
COMP-LIT 691Q Translation Workshop
COMP-LIT 751 Translation Theory
FRENCH 397M: French for the Medical Professions
JAPANESE  597C: Problems and Methods of Translation
PORT 357 Translating and Interpreting for Portuguese-Speaking Communities
PORTUG 456: 20th Century Brazilian Literature: Belonging (or not) in Translation
PORTUG 397ST and SPANISH 397 PM ST Multiple Linguistic Worlds: Multilingualism & Translation in Spanish & Portuguese Writings
SPANISH 350 Translation Today: Spanish-English
SPAN 497TC: Spanish Translation for Community Health Services
SPANISH 597CP Special Topics: Practicing Literary Translation: Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish

Graduate courses in the translation program for qualified students

Consult individual language and culture departments in the Five Colleges for course listings. Almost all intermediate and advanced courses taught in the target language and focusing on literature or culture can count toward the concentration.

Smith College

CLS 150 Roots Greek and Latin Elements in English (2 credits)
EDC 212 Linguistics for Educators
ENG 170 The History of the English Language
ENG 207 The Technology of Reading and Writing
PHI/PSY 213 Colloquium: Language Acquisition
PHI 236 Linguistic Structures
PHI 262 Meaning and Truth: The Semantics of Natural Language
PSY 313 Seminar in Psycholinguistics: Language and Thought

Mount Holyoke

PSYCH-339LG Seminar in Developmental Psychology: Language and Literacy Development in Early Childhood
PSYCH-349LT Seminar in Perception and Cognition: Language and Thought

University of Massachusetts Amherst

LINGUIST 101 People and their Language
LINGUIST 150 Language Through Time
LINGUIST 190A Language Acquisition and Human Nature
LINGUIST 201 How Language Works: Introduction to Linguistic Theory
LINGUIST 397LH Special Topics - Language Acquisition
LINGUIST 411 Introduction to Language Acquisition
SPANISH 697 A ST Second Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory
Online courses offered at UMass  [Smith may not accept credits for these courses, but they may still be of interest and use.]
LLC 401  Introduction to Translation
LLC402  Fundamentals of Interpreting
LLC501  Translation and Interpretation: Ethics and Standards





How to Apply

Applications are accepted in April and November.

Applications will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee to determine the feasibility of the proposed course of study in the Translation Concentration along with the your intended or declared major. Accepted students will be assigned to an adviser who will oversee your progress through the program and approve internships.

To complete the registration for the concentration, you need to fill out the Declaration of Concentration form from the Office of the Registrar and have it signed by the director of the Translation Studies Concentration.

To apply for the Translation Studies Concentration, fill out the online application.




Lewis Global Studies Center

Wright Hall 127
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-7598
Fax: 413-585-4982

Director of the Translation Studies Concentration: Reyes Lazaro
Administrative Assistant: Laura Gomez