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The Dark Side of Translation: 20th and 21st Century Translation from Russian as a Political Phenomenon in the UK, Ireland, and the USA PhD Studentship (RusTrans), Department of Modern Languages.


Project Description

The RusTrans project explores the role played by Russian-to-English literary translation in constructing national identity. It includes four case studies of translators of Russian literature and their networks, in Ireland, the UK, and the USA.

Applications are invited for an ERC-funded PhD studentship in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Exeter to work with the lead researchers on the “RusTrans: Dark Side of Translation” project. This project investigates the ideology underlying the practice of Russian-to-English literary translation in the 20th and 21st centuries. The fully funded studentship, beginning in January 2020, will be hosted at the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus. The studentship is for 3.5 years and is open to students of any nationality. The studentship will cover University tuition fees at Home, EU, or International rates, with a stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK national minimum stipend (£15,009 in 2019/20). Candidates will be expected to have completed a Master’s degree by the time of starting the studentship; they should not yet have formally commenced a doctoral project.

Each candidate is expected to develop an independent research question relevant to the RusTrans project, while assisting the PI and Postdoctoral Fellow with project-related research and administration. This research question should address the literary translation of Russian into the language of a non-Anglophone nation anywhere in the globe where Russian culture exerts or has exerted a strong cultural or political influence in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries. Some funding will be provided for research-related travel, including limited funding to carry out research in the nation of his or her research focus. In addition, the successful candidate will assist the PI and Postdoctoral Fellow with conference organization, website management (including writing regular blog posts and contributing to the project’s social media accounts), and other project administration. He or she will have opportunities to present new research at the project’s two international conferences in 2020 and 2022, and to co-write articles on the project case studies with Dr Maguire and Dr McAteer. More information about the project can be found at http://rustrans.exeter.ac.uk

Candidates are encouraged to select one or more case studies within the history of literary translation from Russian into their chosen language. They may choose to focus on individual translators and their networks; cohorts of translators at a given period; or the history of literary translation from Russian over a set period, up to and including the present. Research proposals should present a substantial argument for the academic value of the candidate’s suggested case study or studies as well as for its specific relevance in the context of the RusTrans project. Please note that while research proposals concerned with Russian-to-English literary translation will be considered, priority will be given to proposals examining literary translation from Russian into a language other than English.

The research proposal should ideally be between one and two thousand words in length, excluding bibliography. In the proposal, the candidate should demonstrate familiarity with the target and source cultures and languages, as well as a sound knowledge of Translation Studies theory. Supplementary research questions, which the candidate may choose to address in their proposal, include the following: Why do translators select the texts that they do? Who funds the translation process, and with what aim? How do target audiences, critics, and national governments react to the translated texts (and do their perceptions of the source culture change as a result)? Which Russian authors, classified in terms of their political views and potential for literary or popular appeal, are currently being translated? What kind of writers have been supported by Russian-state-funded organizations? How do translators advocate for Russian-language authors, and what networks of contacts, grant agencies, etc. do they employ to this end? Is literary translation still viable as a career?

The successful candidate will benefit from joining the dynamic and supportive postgraduate research community in the College of Humanities at the University of Exeter, including the Centre for Translating Cultures at the Department of Modern Languages and our expanding programme of Translation Studies. You can expect to gain expertise in a wide range of transferable research skills, including interviewing, archival research, data analysis and management. Supervision will be shared between Dr Muireann Maguire and Dr Cathy McAteer.

The RusTrans project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 802437).

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Dr Muireann Maguire


Funding Notes

UK/EU and international tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at the Research Council rate (£15,009 per year in 2019/20).

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