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Dr Dimitris Asimakoulas


Deputy Director (Centre for Translation Studies) Programme Director (MRes in Translation and Interpreting Studies)
+44 (0)1483 689913
11 LC 03
Tuesdays 16:00-17:00 and Wednesdays 12:00-13:00

Biography

Biography

As an undergraduate student of English at the University of Athens I was drawn enough to the subject of translation to later pursue postgraduate studies in this field. I obtained an MSc (with distinction) and a doctorate degree from the University of Manchester after securing a PhD scholarship from the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and a stipend from the Language Engineering Department at UMIST. Before joining Surrey in 2006 I worked as a corpus assistant for the Translational English Corpus (CTIS Manchester), as a research associate for a poetry translation project (Newcastle University) and as a part-time Greek translation lecturer (University of Salford).

Currently I serve as Deputy Director (Centre for Translation Studies) and Programme Director (MRes in Translation and Interpreting Studies)

Research interests

The underlying thread in my research is the premise that translation is a form of creative rewriting that occurs at specific moments in time. As such, it sheds light on how identity is mediated across language barriers, time, and media. To date, I have been an examiner for 18 PhD theses (nine as internal and nine as external examiner); I am also a reviewer for the Research Grants Council (Hong Kong). As a result of my research activity, I occasionally serve as member of (international) validation panels for MA programmes, interview panels for new appointments and teams for training projects (e.g. subtitling).

Current research: My current research focuses on comic book adaptations for children, humour as a coping/mediation technique in translation, the role of translation is social movements, gender performativity in subtitled filmic discourse and translated dialogue in comic books.

Earlier research: In my doctoral research I examined issues of social agency, publication trends and censorship. Brecht's poetry collections, political essays and plays published under the Greek dictatorship served as exemplars of how translation can be pressed to the service of protest.

Recent awards: Pump-Prime Fund awarded by Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Surrey; this enabled fieldwork in Greece leading to a monograph on the dissemination and translation of Aristophanic comic books. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences funding for a Community Outreach programme; this led to the commissioning and delivery of a translation for the Watts Gallery into 5 languages (Chinese, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Norwegian). I have also received Santander Academic Mobility Funding in order to establish links with the Centro de Comunicação e Expressão at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Supervision Interests

My supervision interests on postgraduate and research level include the following:

  • Humour theory
  • Translation of multimodal cultural products (audiovisual programmes, comics, adverts)
  • Cultural policy-making/questioning
  • Translation history
  • Translation and social movements
  • Translation as intercultural mediation

PhD Supervision

Completed:

Principal supervisor

  • Ming-Chih Wu. Michelle Wu. Negotiating Culture Space and Identity: The Translation of Tongzhi and Ku-er Fiction. (31 March 2015)
  • Selin Kayhan. A Bourdieusian Perspective On Translators In Turkey: Examining The Role Of Socio-Economic, Cultural and Political Environment. (20 January 2016)
  • Giacinto Palmieri. Oral Self-Translation of Stand-Up Comedy: From the Mental Text to Performance and Interaction. (21 February 2018)
  • Eleni Karvounidou. The Manipulation of Children's Literature: The Russian Translations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (31 May 2018)
  • Konstantina Georgiou. The Translator as Reader: The case of Poetry Translations from Modern Greek into English. (03 Oct 2019)

Completed:

Co-supervisor

  • Artemis Lamprinou. A Study of the Cultural Variations in the Verbalisation of Near-Universal Emotions: Translating Emotions from British English into Greek in Popular Bestseller Romances. (28 March 2013)
  • Sara Dicerto. Multimodal Pragmatics: Building a New Model for Source Text Analysis. (28 August 2015)
  • Katerina Perdikaki.  Adaptation As Translation: Examining Film Adaptation as a Recontextualised Act of Communication. (21 December 2016)
  • Athil Farhan. Ideological Manipulation in the Translations of Political Discourse: A Study of Presidential Speeches After The Arab Spring Based on Corpora and Critical Discourse Analysis. (20 June 2017)
  • Dimitris Bogiatzis. Creative Writing Thesis: Free Spirit: A Novel on the Life of Nikos Kazantzakis. (10 April 2018)
  • Jaleh Delfani. Non-Professional Subtitling in Iran: Process, Product, and Socio-Cultural Context. (03 April 2019)

In progress:

Principal supervisor

  • Shasha Zhang. Exporting the “Real” China: Exploring Chinese National Ideologies within China-Produced TV Documentaries and their Translations.

Co-supervisor

  • Cheima Bouchrara. Persuasion in Courtroom Discourse: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Closing Arguments in US Criminal Cases.
  • Arianna Carloni. The Role of Continued Dance Training in the Reception of Audio Description.
  • Eleanor March. From margin to Centre: Prisoner writing as an act of translation.

 

Teaching

I teach the following undergraduate and postgraduate modules:

  • TRA3036 “Translation of Specialised and Creative Texts” (final-year undergraduate module)
  • TRAM058 “Translation of Persuasive Texts” (MA module)
  • TRAM178 “Translating Cultures” (MA module)
  • TRAM411 “Issues in Literary Translation” (MA module)

In addition to my general teaching and programme-related duties, I also have the following administrative duties in the School of Literature and Languages that complement these roles: Subject Leader (Translation), Postgraduate Exams Officer, Postgraduate Exam Board Chair, Exchange Student Co-ordinator, PhD Admissions Co-ordinator (for the subjects of translation and interpreting), studentship evaluation panel member for scholarships awarded by the university and the AHRC (TECHNE).

 

    Affiliations

    Reviewer for: Anglistica, The Translator, Meta, Intralinea, Palgrave McMillan, Routledge, Alif, JosTrans. I am a member of the Modern Greek Studies Association

     

      My publications

      Publications

      This research aims to investigate early-career professional translators' information-seeking behaviour in translating into and out of one's A language. As information seeking is regarded as a key competence for professional translators, a focus on information-seeking behaviour has recently gained a more central place in literature. Few, however, have discussed the relationship between directionality and information-seeking behaviour. Considering the fact that in the Chinese context, it is a common practice for a professional translator to do either Chinese-English or English-Chinese translation, this research focuses on early-career professional translators' information-seeking behaviour in two-way translation. With its exploratory nature, this research employs mixed methods by triangulating think-aloud protocols, screen recordings and interviews to investigate native Chinese translators, who are working based in China. The research combines quantitive analysis and qualitative analysis, exploring main categories of their information seeking behaviour, including information seeking triggers, resources, seeking strategies and seeking paths as well as seeking outcome and self-perception. According to the experiments, this research provides empirical evidence to the different presences of directionality during the process of information seeking. Under a dynamic framework, three dimensions of information-seeking behaviour and their connection with directionality are mainly analysed in the study. Consistent with existing literature, this research finds that, in the text dimension, translators place more emphasis on production over comprehension in both translation directions. In the resource dimension, the categories of resources are similar in both translation directions; instead, translators' individuality in resource selection is more evident. Finally, in the translator dimension, it is shown that translators' familiarity with their A language and their prior knowledge about its culture lead to a more cautious use of equivalents they sought. The finding is different from the view that the familiarity with one's A language helps simplify the translation process.

      D Asimakoulas (2009)Translating 'Self' and 'Others' Waves of Protest Under the Greek Junta., In: The Sixties: a journal of history, politics and culture2(1)pp. 25-47 Taylor and Francis

      The Greek junta (1967-1974) can be seen as the as the most recent black page of modern Greek history. It is mostly remembered in terms of shocking oppression as well as for the massive antiauthoritarian student movement that took place in a global sixties context. This paper summarizes significant protest activities under the Greek junta, an authoritarian regime that was in a state of flux. Events are categorized under three broad protest waves: passive resistance/clandestine activities, elaborate cultural activity and mass mobilization. As is shown, networks of resistance developed gradually with the convergence of the needs of various sectors or society. Effective opposition meant resorting to “meaningful” discourse in an authoritarian context. The role of culture in this context proved to be instrumental, because it served as the arena where this meaningful discourse was interpreted and re-interpreted against the backdrop of local and global demands. Cultural activity and consumption morphed into ideological and organizational preparation that eventually determined the stakes of an open antiauthoritarian movement.

      D Asimakoulas (2011)Systems and the Boundaries of Agency: Translation as a Site of Opposition, In: Translation and Oppositionpp. 1-36 Multilingual Matters Ltd

      This chapter starts off by analysing the oppositional frames of reference animated by a translated text used by a Greek broadsheet newspaper during the December 2008 riots in Athens: a skewed modern Greek translation of an excerpt from Isocrates’ Areopagiticus speech that decries the equation of real democracy to unlimited freedom/anarchy. Taking the contextual embeddedness of this short text as the point or departure, the chapter discusses how translators, interpreters and subtitlers as mediators have a pivotal role to play in identifying dividing lines between ‘us’ and cultural and political ‘others’. Dynamic groupings and (counteractive) regroupings of textual repertoires, of ideas, and of social groups thus map out three areas of investigation: ‘rewriting’, including the texts with the ideas or poetological values that characterise them and the institutions of patronage that allow patterns of action and value-formation to emerge; the active agency of translators, subtitlers and interpreters who may decide to align themselves with structures around them or oppose them; the interacting social fields involved, that is, the greater (often conflictive) social forces that provide a context for action, with distinct ‘stakes’, conditions, and gate-keeping rules.

      Dimitris Asimakoulas, Margaret Rogers (2011)Translation and Opposition Multilingual Matters

      Translation and Opposition is an edited volume that brings together cultural and sociological perspectives by examining translation through the prism of linguistic/cultural hybridity and inter/intra-social agency. In a collection of diverse case studies, ranging from the translation of political texts to interpreting in concentration camps, the book explores issues of power struggle, ideology, censorship and identity construction. The contributors to the volume show how translators, interpreters and subtitlers as mediators put their specific professional and ethical competences to the test by treading the dividing lines between constellations of ‘in-groups’ and cultural or political ‘others’.

      Translation studies researchers have for a long time critically engaged with the idea of translation being a mode of creative rewriting across media and cultural or temporal divides. Adaptation studies experts use a similar premise to study products, processes and reception of adaptations for specific locales. This article combines such perspectives in order to shed light on an under-researched area of comic adaptation: this is the metabase, or transfer, of Aristophanic comedies to the comic book format in Greek and their subsequent translation into English for an e-book edition (Metaichmio Publications 2012). The paper suggests a model for the close reading of creative transfer based on Lefèvre’s (2011; 2012) typology of formal properties of comics and Attardo’s (2002) General Theory of Verbal Humour. As is shown, visual rhythm and text-image relations create a rich environment for anachronism, parody, comic characterisation and ideological comments, all of which serve a condensed plot. The English translation rewrites cultural/ideological references, amplifies obscenity and emphasizes narrator visibility, always taking into consideration the mise en scène.

      D Asimakoulas (2016)How Balkan am I? Translation and cultural intimacy through an Albanian-Greek lens, In: METApp. 1-18 Les Presses de L'universite de Montreal

      Historiographers, anthropologists and cultural studies experts have shown that discussions of identity in or about the Balkans have been traditionally linked to a sense of ‘deficiency’. Given the history of conflict, the drive towards greater European integration and the effects of the current economic crisis in the region, there is an urgency to deconstruct such ideologies. This article shows how Herzfeld’s approach to Balkan marginality may be productively extended to cover cultural and translation critique. Thus his concept of cultural intimacy is applied to stories of migration. Two Greek works are examined: Gazmend Kapllani’s semi-autobiographic novel A Short Border Diary (2006), translated into English by Marie Stanton-Ife, and Filippos Tsitos’ film Plato’s Academy (2009), subtitled into English. Both works have set a precedent in terms of audience reception and as documents of a historical cycle, the migration of thousands of Albanians to Greece after the collapse of communism. Translation and subtitling into English respectively show that the written and the audiovisual medium present different opportunities for conveying Balkan otherness.

      Dimitris Asimakoulas (2017)Synchrony issues in comics. Language transfer and gender-specific characterisation in English translations of Greek Aristophanic comics, In: Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics9(4)pp. 350-372 Taylor & Francis

      In the last few years, two veritably burgeoning areas, comics studies and translation studies have asserted their autonomy by addressing specificities of form and context of production/reception. Acknowledging similarities between these two fields, and highlighting the role of translation as a conduit of cultural flows and representations, this article explores linguistic transfer and male/female characterisation in the English translations of Assembly of Women and Ladies’ Day. The two comics are adaptations of Aristophanic playtexts and their translations were launched as part of the general educational mission of a Greek publishing house, Metaichmio. Originals and translations are compared with the help of categories of synchrony, a concept traditionally used in audiovisual translation and adapted here to indicate alignment between text and visuals in translation: kinetic synchrony (movement and gestures), content synchrony (contextual equivalence), isochrony (text volume) and character synchrony (performative preferences for individual characters). Despite a general emphasis on space constraints in the literature, a bilingual comics corpus compiled here shows patterns of creative rewriting affecting characterisation.

      D Asimakoulas (2006)Fear and Misery of the Third Reich... and the Greek Junta, In: Norwich Papers - Studies in Translation: Identities: The Role of Translation in Global and National Contexts14 University of East Anglia
      D Asimakoulas (2007)Translation as social action: Brecht's 'political texts' in Greek, In: TTR: Traduction, Terminologie et Redaction20(1)pp. 113-140

      This paper places an influential anthology of Brecht's texts in the context of the Greek junta (1967-1974). Drawing on the sociological work of Pierre Bourdieu, it shows how the text constitutes an euphemisation of the power of a politically active publisher who opposed the regime with what came to be seen as 'social art' by various agents of the publishing field at the time. It also demonstrates how the tactical presentation of the material in the anthology helps map the oppression of the Nazi rule onto the junta while identifying a 'plural-self' that opposes symbolic and physical violence.

      D Asimakoulas (2009)Framing Brecht and the Greek Student Movement (1972-1973), In: META54(2)pp. 233-247 PRESSES UNIV MONTREAL

      This paper examines the subversive function of an anthology of Bertolt Brecht's political essays that was published in Greece at the time the student movement was emerging. The collection was launched in 1971, four years after the military coup in Greece. Drawing on the notion of frame from social movements theory, the paper focuses on the trajectory of the Greek student movement and the main frames that brought it forward as the most successful form of resistance against the junta. Then the paper illustrates how the Brecht anthology in particular captures the general climate of cultural and political opposition that created the resonance deemed necessary for the success of the student movement.

      D Asimakoulas (2013)Migrant Bitter Wit: Translating a Coping Mechanism in Gazmend Kapllani’s Mικρό Ημερολόγιο Συνόρων, In: New Voices in Translation Studies10pp. 1-20 St Jerome Publishing

      The understanding that humour constitutes an identity marker with a positive as well as an alienating function cuts across traditional approaches to social identity theories of humour and satire. This article melds such strands of humour by suggesting a concept that may serve as a unifying principle when identifying relevant comic excerpts, namely, the concept of migrant bitter wit. A Greek novel by Gazmend Kapllani and its English translation will be used to illustrate how the coping functions of this type of humour may be reframed in the target text, thus resulting in a shift of voice. The ventriloquising ‘migrant loser’ is presented in a more accessible, sardonic light that makes the dominant rhetorical purpose of the novel more salient.

      D Asimakoulas (2015)Joining the Dots in Translation History: the First Brecht Anthologies in Greece, In: SKASE Journal of Translation and Interpretation8(1)pp. 2-25 Slovak Association for the Study of English

      The important questions any project on translation history may ask can be distilled into three basic queries: Where can change be observed? Which intermediaries are involved? What materials are relevant? This article focuses on a moment when such a change occurred, namely, the move from preventive censorship to ostensible freedom of expression in Greece in 1970. New publishing houses appeared at this point and sought to make up for lost ground. The article discusses the role of selected intermediaries who can be credited with the first ‘resistance’ anthologies during this transitional period, two anthologies of Brecht’s poetry. As is shown, principles of selection, arrangement and presentation for this previously neglected genre of Brecht’s oeuvre can be seen against the backdrop of a habitus of cultural ambassadorship that was just emerging. A critical overview of information gleaned from translation catalogues, interviews, memoirs and the translated texts themselves, shows that the two anthologies indeed constituted a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts.

      D Asimakoulas (2017)Waves of Protest
      D Asimakoulas (2005)Brecht in Dark Times. Translations of His Works Under the Greek Junta (1967-1974), In: Target17(1)pp. 93-110 John Benjamins Publishing Company

      This paper will place Brecht’s published works within the socio-political context of the Greek junta (1967–1974). After preventive censorship was lifted in 1969, a massive import of Brecht’s works occurred. Brecht was immediately incorporated in the recently established tradition of serious books addressing important social issues, bringing the reader closer to modern thought and kindling the desire for democracy. Two of the most influential publishers of the time published Brecht’s works and actively subscribed to this trend of defiance against the regime in the publishing industry. The publishers’ activity as well as the content and paratextual elements of Brecht’s works they launched constituted instantiations of the discursive motif of dark times introduced by Brecht himself to describe oppression and distortion of truth.

      D Asimakoulas (2012)Dude (looks like a lady): Hijacking Transsexual Identity in the subtitled version of Strella by Panos Koutras, In: The Translator18(1)pp. 45-75 St Jerome Publishing Ltd

      Problematizing and relativizing components of culture and identity are a constant theme in translation studies, yet there are fields where culture and identity are radically deconstructed, rather than problematized and relativized; such is the case in the uncharted area of transgenderism. By definition, transgenderism entails both great freedom and great constraints with respect to shaping physical and discourse parameters of identity. Taking Cromwell’s (2006) concept of ‘transsituated identities’ as a point of departure, this article discusses the English subtitles for the cinema in Koutras’ recent film Strella (2009). It demonstrates that the filmic language of Strella adopts strategies which are geared towards unsettling fixed hierarchies in society. Harvey’s (2000) grid of strategies – namely, ludicrism, inversion, paradox and parody – is extended here for the analysis of filmic language. The analysis reveals that the move from a minor code (Greek) into a lingua franca, within the context of a transgender subculture, leads to recurrent shifts in the semiotic load of these resources in translation.

      D Asimakoulas (2009)Rewriting, In: Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studiespp. 241-246 Routledge
      D Asimakoulas (2009)Framing Brecht and the Greek Student Movement (1972-1973), In: META54(2)pp. 233-247 PRESSES UNIV MONTREAL

      This paper examines the subversive function of an anthology of Bertolt Brecht’s political essays that was published in Greece at the time the student movement was emerging. The collection was launched in 1971, four years after the military coup in Greece. Drawing on the notion of ‘frame’ from social movements theory, the paper focuses on the trajectory of the Greek student movement and the main ‘frames’ that brought it forward as the most successful form of resistance against the junta. Then the paper illustrates how the Brecht anthology in particular captures the general climate of cultural and political opposition that created the resonance deemed necessary for the success of the student movement.