ALTA44: Inflection Points

ALTA44: Inflection Points

Friday-sunday, October 15-17, 2021 (online)
thursday-Saturday, November 11-13, 2021 (tucson, AZ)

After careful consideration of the ever-evolving situation surrounding the ongoing pandemic, the ALTA staff, Board, and Conference Committee have determined to hold the 2021 ALTA conference jointly online and in person. Conference events will take place throughout the fall in partnership with the University of Arizona College of Humanities, including online pitch sessions in September, online multilingual workshops in October, an online weekend on October 15-17, and an in-person weekend on November 11-13 in Tucson, AZ.  

At ALTA, we recognize that guidelines around COVID-19 may change as the public health situation fluctuates. Please refer to this web page for our most recent guidelines. 

We greatly appreciate your patience as we navigate the circumstances of this year, and hope you will join us this fall in whatever way it makes sense for you.

What to Expect

view full conference program now!

view full conference schedule now!

view in-person conference schedule now!

Multilingual workshops are small groups of translators who meet with an established translator to discuss brief translations circulated to the group beforehand. Confirmed workshop leaders include Jennifer Croft, William Gregory, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Daniel Hahn, and Kareem James Abu-Zeid, among others! Pitch sessions are 7-minute one-on-one meetings with editors of literary translation magazines and journals, during which the translator may pitch a project for possible publication. Confirmed publications include: Archipelago Books, Deep Vellum, Graywolf Press, New Directions, The Paris Review, and Wave Books. Pitch session signups are now unlimited for those who register at this level! 

The virtual conference will include seminars and roundtables proposed by members, bilingual readings, special programming including professional development sessions, the ALTA Awards ceremony, and the Mentorship Program and Travel Fellows Readings, and more.

The in-person conference will feature a few seminars and roundtables, as well as a keynote address, a theater translation production in partnership with a local theater, opportunities to participate in bilingual readings and Declamación, and plenty of chances to connect with fellow ALTA attendees and the Tucson and University of Arizona communities.

A select few virtual events will also be free and open to the public during the lead-up to the conference.

NEW: If you've registered for the virtual conference, you can now sign up to join two virtual seminars or roundtables as a participant! (If you're attending the in-person conference, you may sign up for one session at the in-person portion.) You can access the sign-up form through the confirmation email you receive(d) after registering. To give session organizers time to circulate any texts they wish to share in advance of the seminar or roundtable, virtual participant signups will close on October 8, so be sure to sign up soon. Please note: If you have already selected a session and signed up to join as a participant, feel free to join another! Check the conference schedule to ensure that your two sessions do not take place at the same time. In addition to the seminar(s) or roundtable(s) you join as a participant at each portion of the conference, you are welcome to join additional sessions as an audience member. Audience members do not need to sign up in advance. Note that in-person seminar/roundtable signups close October 18.

Conference Theme and Call for Participation 

We are at a threshold. While ecosystems, public health, our political institutions, small businesses, and colleges have teetered on the tipping point of catastrophe, we have remained on our doorsteps, isolating from others to flatten the curve. As we begin to emerge from this moment of crisis, the ALTA44 theme “Inflection Points” allows us to reflect on how the field of literature in translation might take new turns, rather than return to an unsustainable normal at a time when change must occur. While translations have flatlined at 3% of the total literature published in the U.S. for decades, a dynamic response at this moment might allow us to turn the tide on the significance of translation in a world still yet to be written. Is this a moment to change the trajectory of what is considered “growth,” “success,” and “value” in the field? Is this a moment to reconceive what the ideal trajectory of translation and translated literature might be?

We invite roundtables and seminars that address the theme “Inflection Points,” broadly conceived, including topics such as: translating catastrophe (environmental, climate, economic, social, political), translating at a time of crisis, the sustainability of translation, translating for change.

We also welcome topics that approach the theme through the points of inflection in languages and texts: prosody, tone, voice, translating oral texts, translating a text’s critical words, passages, or ideas.

Proposals might also engage with new trajectories in translation (race, queerness, disability); what we consider “canonical,” “important,” or “urgent” in the field; new directions in regional literatures; career turning points; new modalities for working on, teaching about, and disseminating translations, reflected in the new forms the ALTA conference is now taking after our first virtual conference last year.

The annual tradition of the Alexis Levitin Bilingual Reading Series will continue as well (virtually and in-person). Readings will not be by application this year; instead, they will be first-come, first-served, with signups taking place at registration. Please be prepared to share the name of your author, title of the text, genre, your bio, and a brief description of the work. UPDATE: All virtual Bilingual Reading slots are now full! We are excited to share the work of these translators with our conference attendees.

As always, all participants must register for the conference. Registration for the conference is now open. NB: Our virtual conference platform works best in the Chrome browser. Please download it here before registering.

ALTA44 conference session proposals were accepted through June 21, 2021.

ALTA is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our community and programming and to modeling those values as we support and advocate for translators. We are interested in sessions that explicitly engage with these values, and that support inclusive participation across lines of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, age, and religion.

We welcome everyone to our conference and are committed to making our programming and events accessible and to making arrangements that allow all attendees to participate in the conversation. Please view our Accessibility web page for more information. Contact: Kelsi Vanada, ALTA Program Manager

In accordance with ALTA conference policy, we ask that participants not read papers. Rather, participants prepare talking points and examples based in the practice of literary translation.


Special thanks to our ALTA44 partners:

Academic Studies Press

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona

The Center for the Art of Translation & Two Lines Press

The College of Humanities at the University of Arizona

Columbia University School of the Arts

Dalkey Archive

Deep Vellum Publishing

East Asian Studies Department at the University of Arizona

The Georgia Review

Kenyon Review


Library of Arabic Literature

National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona

The National Endowment for the Arts

PEN America

Russian & Slavic Studies Department at the University of Arizona

Schaffner Press

School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (SILLC) at the University of Arizona

Syracuse University Press

Translation & Interpreting Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The University of Arizona School of Art

The University of Iowa MFA in Literary Translation Program

Visit Tucson

Words Without Borders

Key Dates

  • Mid-January 2021: Nominations for awards open
  • April 12, 2021: Seminar/roundtable proposals open
  • April 19, 2021: Nominations for awards close
  • April 19, 2021: ALTA Travel Fellowship applications deadline
  • Mid-May, 2021: Bookfair requests open
  • June 21, 2021: Seminar/roundtable proposals close
  • Mid-July, 2021: Seminar/roundtable applicants notified of status
  • July 12, 2021: Conference registration available online, with seminar/roundtable and Bilingual Reading signups (UPDATE: All virtual Bilingual Reading slots are now full!)
  • Mid-August, 2021: Conference schedule available online (in-person and virtual)
  • August 23, 2021: Deadline for bookfair requests
  • August 31, 2021: Deadline for registration for workshops & pitch sessions 
  • September 8-24: Pitch sessions with translation editors
  • October 3-10: Multilingual workshops
  • October 15-17, 2021: Virtual conference
  • October 18, 2021: Deadline for in-person conference registration
  • November 11-13, 2021: In-person conference in Tucson, AZ