Our Workshops


All the workshops in the Shadow Heroes series seek to develop the skills students need to become confident and critical thinkers anywhere in the world. Each workshop is taught by a leading translator in the field and offers a guided exploration of translation in different contexts, interrogating social and ethical situations, questioning assumptions, addressing and analysing biases.

Students simultaneously receive a baseline training in key translation concepts and approaches, and in a range of professional translation skills. These include subtitling, interpreting, literary translation and more. Each workshop also yields original cross-media work created by the students which they, and students from other schools, may access on our Activities page. Shadow Heroes also offers custom workshops on request.



Finding the translator in the text
In this workshop students will broaden their ideas about translation and understand it as a creative process and an expression of their subjectivities. They will be introduced to the different ways in which authors can impose themselves on the text and the implications of these different linguistic decisions.

Translating English from around the world
Led by researcher and translator Gitanjali Patel.

In this challenging workshop, students will explore translation between different types of English using a range of texts and media from around the globe, from Jamaica to Kenya to India. Students will explore the historical and political processes evident within the language and use these insights to inform their translation. They will train their ear for nuance and develop a sensitive and analytic approach to their translations. They will use their creative writing skills whilst gaining exposure to literature, music and film that may not be on their radar.

Translating queerness
Led by translator Emily Rose

Texts whose narrators have no gender are queer. Translators have the power to silence the queerness of a text or to celebrate it. What textual clues do readers use to label genderless narrators as men or women, heterosexual or homosexual? This workshop challenges the tendency to cling to gender stereotypes and demonstrates the importance of celebrating queerness in texts through examples of experimental translation.

It’s all Portuguese to us
Students will use their existing linguistic skills to translate a text from Portuguese with no previous knowledge of the language. Taking for its text the most-watched telenovela in all of Brazil, this workshop naturally raises questions about race, class and colour, all in the unfamiliar, strongly polarised context of a glitzy television version of Rio de Janeiro

It’s all Arabic to us
Led by literary translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

This workshop draws on students’ existing deductive and creative writing skills to translate an Arabic picture book with no previous knowledge of the language. Students infer the plot and the humour from the illustrations and from a ‘performance’ of the original story, and produce an English translation using a glossary of vocabulary and brief notes about Arabic syntax. In editing the translation, we discuss many factors such as register, target readership and the stylistic devices of traditional fairy tales. Students will discuss the ethical considerations they must take into account when translating from Arabic to English.

It's all Ouilpo to us
Led by award-winning literary translator Sophie Lewis

This workshop explores the constraints that shape translations using Oulipian practice and, in particular, key OuLiPo member Georges Perec’s novel La Disparition. Students will be encouraged to interrogate the invisible, innate constraints of their own translating sensibility, starting with a whistle-stop guide to the background of OuLiPo and the methods championed by its best known members. They move on to hands-on translation within constraints formulated by the students themselves and conclude with in-depth discussion of the implications of working under constraints, both deliberate and inadvertent.

Translating humour
Understanding humour supports an understanding of wider linguistic culture, and grappling with it promotes insight into some of the toughest challenges translation can pose. Students will embark on the hazardous journey of taking humour across linguistic frontiers. They will engage in a series of diverse translation-based activities and examples from a range of languages. Students will learn that humour comes in many shapes and sizes and that, when it comes to translating it, we have to both make compromises and get creative.

Translating Multilingualism
Led by researcher, editor and literary translator Ellen Jones

In this workshop students will consider the following questions: what is multilingual writing? Can multilingual writing be translated? Should multilingual writing be translated? Students will think critically about the ethical and political consequences of translating in multilingual contexts and will explore a range of practical strategies for translating multilingual texts. No knowledge of any language other than English is necessary.

Exploring implicit gender bias in the Odyssey
Led by Classicist and civil servant Calypso Nash

This multimedia workshop aims to deepen students’ sensitivity to gender bias in translation through analysis and discussion of literary and artistic translations of Homer's Odyssey.  Do men and women translate the Odyssey differently? How and why has the artistic reception of female characters changed over time? Should a translator faithfully reflect the gender bias she detects in a source text, or unmask and correct it? The workshop is designed to be tailored according to students’ knowledge of Ancient Greek.

About register: translating slang
Students will explore the inherently political notion of register in translation. What constitutes formality? How does having a standardised language affect the way we see linguistic variation? How do these ideas come through in a translation?

Masterclass in subtitling
Led by professional subtitler Clémence Sebag

Interpreting voices
Led by UN interpreter Jaciara Topley Lira

During this practical workshop, students will explore the different factors which can shape and influence an interpreter’s work: the audience, the speaker and the expected communication style. Through a range of interpreting exercises, students will develop an understanding of how external factors and our own perceptions affect our interpretations. They will engage in in-depth discussion of these factors’ implications in contexts including a meeting between high level politicians, and witness testimonies in court.

Cultural context through idioms
Understanding cultural context is paramount to any translation; students will learn to navigate these muddy waters through intensive translation work with idioms.