CFP> "Pre-modern Chinese Buddhist texts: a translation workshop of readings from the sinophone world" online workshop at SOAS

Ema Sala Discussion

"Pre-modern Chinese Buddhist texts: a translation workshop of readings from the sinophone world"

The SOAS CBS Chinese Buddhists Texts Reading Group was established in 2016 and is open to anyone interested who has a basic level of classical Chinese. We are a relaxed and tight-knit group, and we often read something a group member is working on, or has an interest in. The group has provided a useful forum for members to expand their knowledge of Chinese Buddhist texts, to improve their knowledge of classical Chinese, and to reflect upon the aims and techniques of a successful translation.

We think that our approach can be useful to other students and postdocs who work with Buddhist texts, and are organising an online workshop to create a network of early-career scholars with an interest in translation. The aims of the workshop are: 

  1. To highlight the indispensable value of translation and the contributions it makes to research

  2. To encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration that incorporates both academic and non-academic perspectives

  3. To foster a sense of community and shared purpose in working on these texts, breaking down ingrained notions of translation as an isolated enterprise

  4. To share pertinent resources, methodologies, and theories amongst this community, with a special emphasis on introducing the latest work in the field of “translation studies” to students of Buddhism.

The workshop will be held over three days, from 14 to 16 June. Each day will feature a brief keynote address on methodological issues of translation, followed by two student-led translation seminars of one hour and a half each.

We are now welcoming applications for candidates to lead the translation seminars. Your section of the seminar should focus on a textual excerpt of 300 to 400 words in the original Chinese. This should be a problematic passage, whose translation you wish to discuss with an open floor of fellow students and senior scholars. Excerpts from Korean and Japanese texts in classical Chinese are very welcome! Texts that have not been translated in English before will have precedence. We also welcome submissions for multiple presenters to collaboratively discuss a single excerpt.

Please submit the following to before March 1st:

1. A short piece (+/- 250 words) on why you think that the excerpt you are proposing can stimulate a discussion on the translation of Buddhist texts in the Sinosphere, and the challenges of translating Chinese Buddhist texts of the type you work with.

2. A sample (+/- 300 words) of a translation you have already prepared, different from the excerpt on which you wish to present.

3. A few suggested themes or disciplines through which you approach your work (e.g., "doctrinal debates", "hagiography", "commentary", "manuscript culture", etc.)

As this is an online workshop, we welcome submissions from postgraduate students and early-career scholars from anywhere in the world. Please note, however, that we are based in the UK, and that the workshop will be held from 11am to 4pm BST (breaks included, actual working time 3 hrs). 

Should your submission be successful, we will ask you to send us your excerpt and a draft translation of it before 3 May, as well as a “translation log”, to the address This log should be a brief text (no more than 1000 words) where you describe the difficulties that you experienced during the translation and the strategies that you employed to solve them. These reflections will constitute the backbone of your seminar discussion.

We are planning on collecting the short translations and translation logs coming out of the seminar. A file with these contributions will be made publicly available on the event page on the CBS webpage.

Best regards,

Emanuela Sala

PhD candidate, SOAS (she her hers)

On behalf of

SOAS CBS Chinese Buddhist Texts Reading Group

For further info, please get in touch with us at