Proposal Guidelines for the 2021 ALTA Conference

Proposal Guidelines for the 2021 ALTA Conference

Proposal deadline: June 21, 2021

The ALTA Conference Committee invites proposals for roundtables and seminars for ALTA's 44th annual conference. ALTA44: "Inflection Points" will take place both virtually and in-person in 2021. Read about this year’s theme and official call for participation on our conference web page. On our blog, you can read an announcement from the Board, staff and the 2021 Conference Committee about our conference format.

We know that the ability to converse with fellow conference-goers is an important hallmark of the ALTA Conference. This year, we're debuting something new in the form of roundtables and seminars (in place of panels), to allow for extended discussion and exploration of a wide variety of topics among all conference participants. Roundtable and Seminar decisions will be sent out in mid-July. If your roundtable or seminar is accepted, it will automatically be programmed! What you submit will be your final lineup and description.

The annual tradition of the Alexis Levitin Bilingual Reading Series will continue (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. As always, all participants must register for the conference. Registration for the conference will open in July; more information is forthcoming.

For those seeking conference funding from an institution, please note that roundtable and seminar participation has equivalent status to presenting on an ALTA panel, and should be considered of equal merit.

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. It will be updated frequently throughout the upcoming months, as we know more about our virtual platform.

Questions may be sent to ALTA Program Manager Kelsi Vanada at

Roundtables and Seminars at ALTA44

propose a roundtable or seminar

Roundtables and seminars gather small groups of translators to meet twice during the ALTA conference for 75 minutes (on Saturday, October 16, and again on Sunday, October 17 OR on Friday, November 12 and again on Saturday, November 13) and explore a topic in-depth. This will give participants the chance to get to know each other and introduce the topic the first day, and return to it the next day to further the conversation!

Roundtables and seminars are proposed and led by two to three organizers. 12 to 13 participants per seminar and roundtable will sign up, first-come first-served, at conference registration to become part of their roundtable or seminar of choice. Organizers are expected to propose themes/topics that will allow for a diverse group of translators at different career stages to be part of the conversation. If desired, organizers may circulate texts to the participants in advance of the conference.

Roundtables aim to foster considered exchange, discussion and debate around one central theme, issue, or question. Seminars are proposed by translators who hope to lead a guided discussion or tutorial, in the style of an interactive masterclass. Roundtables and seminars allow for extended discussion and exploration of a wide variety of topics, such as: a promising new pedagogical strategy, different editing practices, methods for disseminating translations, or an issue in the field. The difference between the two lies in the format of the conversation. Please read the following distinctions and examples carefully:

Roundtables are more conversational. They are spaces for discussion, collaboration, and creative thinking, and aim to give all participants equal seats at the table. As such, organizers are strongly encouraged to structure their roundtables around highly engaging forms of exchange. For example, the ALTA43 session “Translation in Education: The Classroom & Beyond” might be a good fit for the roundtable model. Organizers would phrase the title of the roundtable as a question: “What are best practices for introducing students to literary translation at the elementary and high school levels?” Then, in the roundtable, organizers might invite participants to share examples from their own experience and research, as the group strives to arrive at an answer–or answers–to the question posed by the theme.

Seminars are more instructional. They are spaces for mentorship, learning, and exchange guided by organizers. For example, the ALTA43 session “Softening the Blow: Translating Racialized Language” might be a good fit for the seminar model. Organizers with knowledge of the subject would prepare brief theoretical texts or practical examples for participants to read in advance of the seminar. From the common ground of these shared readings and examples, organizers would lead seminar participants into a greater understanding of how translators can navigate moments of othering in the source text, and how to approach translating texts that participate in racism. 

Roundtable and Seminar Proposals must include:

  1. Title: (80 characters or fewer) for roundtables, this must be in the form of a question that will prompt discussion. Examples might include: “What is the future of international literature?”, “What are the ethical implications of translating queer authors?”, "What are some creative approaches to translating idiomatic phrases?", or “How can we best train new literary translators?”;
  2. Organizer Information: names, email addresses, and 400-character bios for your two or three organizers (NOTE at least one organizer must be a current ALTA member in order to propose a roundtable or seminar, and organizers may only propose ONE seminar or roundtable);
  3. Description: a description (800 characters or fewer) of the roundtable or seminar’s subject and goals, which will be used in the call for participants and the final program;
  4. Format: a description (250 characters or fewer) of the seminar’s format, which will appear in the call for participants. For example, seminar/roundtable organizers may choose to circulate brief texts in advance for participants to read, or may ask each participant to come prepared with one example to share orally, or to bring a brief excerpt of a text in their translation;
  5. Location: select whether you prefer to hold your roundtable or seminar in-person in Tucson, via Zoom during the virtual conference, or either (if either option is possible for you). Accepted roundtables and seminars will be notified by early July as to whether they will be in-person or virtual; please note that we CANNOT make any changes to location after that time;
  6. Audio/Visual: for in-person only, indicate whether your roundtable or seminar will require a projector and/or speakers (note that we might not be able to accommodate all requests, so please request audio/visual equipment only if absolutely necessary); and
  7. Audience Members: indicate your understanding that roundtables and seminars will be open to audience members. Audience members will be invited to join without participating; virtual roundtables and seminars will take place in Zoom, and audience members will not be able to turn on their camera or mic.

propose a roundtable or seminar

NOTE: For guidelines regarding writing your bio, please navigate to this page. Google Forms do not allow italics, so you may choose to designate titles by placing an underscore before and after as a signal to organizers, like this: _What's Left of the Night_.

Proposal deadline: June 21, 2021