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Lectures in partnership with the Transatlantic Collaborative Translation Workshop

The challenge confronted by the Atelier transatlantique de traduction collaborative / Transatlantic Collaborative Translation Workshop1 is to bring tandems of French and American master’s students to collaborate at distance in order to produce translations that meet the standards of academic publication. The online journal Lectures has teamed up with this project, offering students the opportunity to translate into English the social science book reviews produced by Lectures. English-speaking audiences will benefit from having access to knowledge about these books. The first translations resulting from this collaboration were recently put online2. Others will soon follow.

From a pedagogical point of view, the concept of this workshop is highly interesting. Unlike purely scholastic exercises, the work assigned to students is what is called in didactics terminology an “authentic task”. This task aims to allow them to understand the functioning of the knowledge-based economy in real life situations. Indeed, while contributing to the international exchange of academic and scientific knowledge, they are also confronted with the protocols and requirements of publishing. Additionally, the actual translation work also allows them to develop a set of linguistic, scientific and intercultural skills.

If the publication objective contributes to the motivation of the individual participants from a personal perspective (they are able to feature their translation in their CV), it also offers the student pairs a project of collective interest, and thus gives meaning and purpose to their distance collaboration; having this sense of purpose is far from being self-evident in more classic classroom situations of distance collaboration. Indeed, although they are enrolled in programmes that are similarly oriented towards teaching or research, the ENS de Lyon students and their peers from Columbia University’s Barnard College obviously cannot meet physically to work together. The mediation of the various communication technologies is essential here. The pedagogical system of the workshop provides for videoconferencing sessions at the beginning of the semester, thus making it possible to “group” the two classes together. Through these videoconferences, the participants can get to know each other and can listen as a group to the instructions explaining the translation tasks to be carried out in the following months. Each pair then organizes its own communication methods (email, smartphone, skype, etc.), with the translation itself being done via an online collaborative translation platform.

At the ENS de Lyon, Layla Roesler3 runs the translation workshop; at Barnard College of Columbia University, the workshop is supervised by her colleague Laurie Postlewate4. This partnership, initiated in 2018, is based on an earlier collaboration developed by Layla Roesler with King’s College at London University between 2014 and 2017. The current format of the workshop therefore benefits from the lessons learned from that initial pedagogical experience5.

In 2019, an English-language journal that also specializes in the publication of book reviews is joining the project. This year, students are therefore able to engage in a twofold editorial project: translating an English-language book review into French and translating a French-language book review into English. This proposed partnership is still in test phase, but Lectures considers this as a very positive step.

The editors of Lectures would like to thank Layla Roesler and Laurie Postlewate for their original and stimulating initiative, as well as all students involved in the translation of a review. This new form of contributions is perfectly in line with the spirit and collaborative practices of our journal, especially since it contributes to our efforts to give Lectures an international focus. We therefore welcome with pleasure and interest the reviews next translated by the 2019 edition of the Transatlantic Collaborative Translation Workshop!



2 The first translated review is the one that Matthias Fringant wrote on Pierre Bourdieu’s, Sociologie générale, volume 1. Cours au Collège de France (1981-1983), Raisons d’agir, 2015. The translation was provided by Élisabeth Beauvallet (ENS de Lyon), Ioannis Iakovoglou (ENS de Lyon) and Sierra Watkins (Columbia University, Barnard College): The second translation concerns the book by Gérard Mauger and Willy Pelletier (dir.), Les classes populaires et le FN. Explications de vote, Vulaines-sur-Seine, Éditions du Croquant, coll. « Savoir/Agir », 2017. Romain Castellesi's report was translated by Elena Fineberg (Columbia University, Barnard College) and Ulysse Lechine (ENS de Lyon):



5 For more details on the functioning and pedagogical issues of the workshop, see: Layla Roesler, “Traduction, technologie et publics spécifiques : l’acquisition de compétences universitaires”, Myriades, vol. 4, 2018, online:; Layla Roesler & Fabienne Dumontet, “Translation, Video-technology, and Interculturality: Benefits and Limits”, in Kern Richard, Develotte Christine (eds.), Screens and Scenes. Multimodal Communication in Online Intercultural Encounters, New York, Routledge, 2018; Layla Roesler, “L’Internationalisation autrement. À la recherche de méthodes pédagogiques plus égalitaires”, Cahiers de l’APLIUT/RPPLS, 2019 (forthcoming).

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