History & Purpose

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Purposes of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies

The purposes of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies are:

  1. to promote research in the fields of translation, writing, terminology, and interpretation;
  2. to offer a framework for the discussion of matters relating to the teaching of these disciplines;
  3. to communicate the research and findings of its members and of other researchers and educators.

History of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies

Compiled and Edited by Jean Delisle

(translated into English by Ryan Fraser, revised by Denise Nevo)

The idea of creating a learned society of translation scholars came out of the discussions of the Professional Advisory Committee (Comité consultatif de la profession), a tri-partite committee consisting of representatives from translation schools, professional translators, and employers. Because CAST (the Canadian Association of Schools of Translation) had decided to remain an association of translation schools, a new and distinctly research oriented association had to be created. In 1985-1986, CAST President Judith Woodsworth consulted Viviane Launay of the CFH (Canadian Federation for the Humanities) on the logistics of founding a learned society, and prepared for CAST the necessary documents. A new committee then set out to lay down the constitution of the future association. The founding meeting, presided over by Marthe Catry-Verron and attended by about twenty other participants, took place during the Learned Societies Congress at McMaster University in 1987. In the very first CATS Newsletter, published in the fall of 1987, Judith Woodsworth gave a detailed account of the motivations behind the Association’s creation. Her text, transcribed here, is followed by the minutes of the Association’s founding meeting.

Translation is an important activity in our country: thousands of professionals are engaged in it and a number of our universities teach it. It has also become an object of study among scholars who approach it from diverse perspectives. A new academic discipline has been developing over the past few years, one formerly designated as “translation theory” and nowadays more or less commonly by the term “translation studies” in English, and the neologism “traductologie” in French.

Unfortunately, some obstacles are preventing the discipline’s development. Until now, translation has been studied from many different vantage points. This is an interdisciplinary field demanding from its scholars a substantial knowledge of literature, linguistics, sociology, and other disciplines in the humanities. It is this interdisciplinary (or perhaps multi-disciplinary) approach that has prevented translation from being recognized as a distinct activity forming the object of an autonomous field of study, although it fully deserves this status.

This is also the time to consolidate the link between theory and praxis: practitioners should be invited to reflect on the subject of translation just as scholars should remain mindful of praxis, so as to avoid widening the gap between the two. Professors of translation, moreover, are well advised to keep the working conditions of the profession in mind when devising pedagogical methods and selecting their materials.

In his recent work, L’épreuve de l’étranger (1984), Antoine Berman comments on the status change that translation is presently undergoing:

Translation [he writes] has remained an underground activity, hidden because it has never declared itself, untouched by critical reflection because those who have spoken about it have tended to assimilate it to other disciplines, consider it a sub-literature or a form of applied linguistics.

This situation has changed over the course of this century, and a vast corpus of texts authored by translators reflecting on the subject of translation is developing. This reflection, moreover, has become an integral part of the activity itself […]. It does not necessarily manifest in the form of a “theory,” […] but, in every case, it points up a desire to establish translation as an autonomous activity, capable of being defined and situated and therefore shared, communicated, and taught.

The idea of a learned society that would encourage knowledge sharing among translation professors, researchers and practitioners—and thereby promote collaboration between academic and professional milieus—originated in the Professional Advisory Committee (Comité consultatif de la profession), a sub-committee of the Canadian Association of Schools of Translation (CAST), whose current president is Christine Klein-Lataud. Members—representatives from translation schools, professional associations and the industry’s most important employers—felt a pressing need for an organization that would be broader than existing associations, both in its objectives and its membership.

Opportunity for debate on the subject of translation is by no means lacking. Professional associations such as the Société des traducteurs du Québec (STQ), the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) and, more recently, the Canadian Translators and Interpreters Council (CTIC), a national organization bringing together the smaller, provincial ones, have all organized colloquia where academics were able to collaborate with practitioners. During these meetings, however, professional issues—internships, new technologies, translation methodologies, terminology—have been the near exclusive focus of debate.

Existing learned societies—such as the Canadian Comparative Literature Association, the Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens (APFUCC), and the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL)—have held the occasional workshop (even joint workshop) on the more theoretical aspects of translation. For the most part, however, practitioners have not participated in these meetings unless they were academics themselves.

In addition to these concerns, there is the fact that the annual meetings of the STQ and CAAL take place in Quebec—and not always in the same city—at the same time as the annual Learned Societies Congress, which takes place each year in a different region of the country. Scholars and practitioners of translation are therefore dispersed, delivering papers in different societies and remote forums.

For these reasons, it has become necessary to create a single association capable of bringing together those interested in the subject of translation, and of responding to their needs. Included in this group are not only those who teach translation in recognized schools, but also those who do research in the fields of comparative literature, or Canadian literature, or the literature of Quebec, for example—in short, anyone and everyone interested in gaining knowledge on translation as a distinct sphere of writing activity. It is our particular hope that such an association would attract members of the profession reflecting on praxis through research, publication or teaching. This openness to multiple perspectives is meant to reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of translation studies and, at the same time, to express our desire for its acknowledgement as an autonomous field of study.

The founding meeting of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies (CATS) / l’Association canadienne de traductologie (ACT) took place on May 29, 1987 during the Learned Societies Congress in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Around twenty people—members of different universities and translation services representing a wide range of disciplines (French and English studies, modern languages, comparative literature, linguistics, etc.)—attended this first meeting, chaired by Marthe Catry-Verron, professor of translation at Concordia University and member of CAST. We approved the motion to found CATS and then began laying down the association’s Constitution with the help of Viviane Launay, General Director of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities. An executive was elected, and the assembly debated the possibility of holding a colloquium on translation at the Windsor congress the following year. On the whole, the tone of this first assembly was optimistic and enthusiastic, and augured well for the future of the new association. […]

Judith Woodsworth,


Minutes of the founding meeting of the Canadian Association for Translation Studies

The founding meeting was called on Friday, May 29, 1987, at 12 noon in room 1002, Chester New Hall, at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, during the Learned Societies Congress.

The meeting Chair, Marthe Catry-Verron (Concordia), called the meeting to order at 12:15 p.m.


Creation of the Association

Review of the Constitution

Election of the Executive

Date of Next Congress

Other Business

Review of the Constitution

The agenda is approved. The provisional Constitution of the Association is distributed to those present. Copies had also been previously sent by the provisional committee, along with the call to the founding meeting, to those professors from CAST/ACET-member institutions (Canadian Association of Schools of Translation/Association canadienne des écoles de traduction) who had shown interest in the project.

Marthe Catry-Verron reads out the provisional Constitution. Then Viviane Launay, representative of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities, discusses it in detail, clarifies a number of points, and proposes a number of modifications in view of the Association’s future welfare.

During the discussion following, it is approved that the proposed amendments to the Constitution be implemented by the provisional Executive of the Association.

Nomination and Election of the Provisional Executive

President: Judith Woodsworth (Concordia)

Vice-President: Jean-Marc Gouanvic (UQTR)

Secretary-Treasurer: Gilles Bélanger (Montreal)


Lise Dubois (Moncton)—East

Brian Rainey (Regina)—West

Other Business

It is recommended that a network of communication with other associations be established, and a number of names are suggested of colleagues who might help in this matter.

The principle of an annual congress in the framework of the Learned Societies is approved, and potential themes and program structures for the Learned Societies Congress of 1988 are discussed.

Creation of the Association

Pierre Gobin (Queen’s) moves to create the new Association, and his motion is seconded by Josef Schmidt (McGill). The motion is approved unanimously by all 21 persons present.

Name of the New Association

After discussion, Jean-Marc Gouanvic (UQTR), seconded by Gilles Bélanger (Montréal), moves to name the new association:

Association canadienne de traductologie (ACT)

Canadian Association for Translation Studies (CATS). Motion approved.

At 1:45 p.m., Christine Klein-Lataud (Glendon), seconded by P. Gobin (Queen’s) moves that the meeting adjourn. Motion approved.

All proposals for congress themes and Constitution amendments, etc., should be forwarded to the President as soon as possible.

Françoise ARBUCKLE,

Recording secretary

CATS Presidents

1987-1991 Judith WOODSWORTH (Concordia)

1991-1993 Jean DELISLE (Ottawa)

1993-1995 Candice SÉGUINOT (York)

1995-1999 Agnes WHITFIELD (York)

1999-2001 Paul ST-PIERRE (Montreal)

2001-2003 Denise MERKLE (Moncton)

2003-2006 Clara FOZ (Ottawa)

2006-2010 Georges BASTIN (Montreal)

2010-2013 Marco Fiola (Ryerson)

2013-2016 Patricia Godbout (Sherbrooke)

2016-2018 Philippe Caignon (Concordia)

2018-Present Christine York (Concordia)

Themes of the Annual Conferences
I 1988 (Windsor) Translation and its Readers
II 1989 (Québec) Translation and the Medium
III 1990 (Victoria)
  1. Translating Sacred Texts
  2. Terminology and the Language Industries: A Multidisciplinary Approach
  3. Translating Theory
  4. Learning to Translate. Learning through Translation
  5. Translation in History
  6. Translation Assessment
  7. Translation in Question
  8. Translation Theory in Question
  9. Babel’s Feast: Writing in More than one Language
  10. Specialized Writing and Specialized Translation
  11. Translation and the Post-colonial Problematic
  12. Learning How to Translate
  13. Translation and Writing
  14. Translation as a Philosophical Exercise
  15. “Literacies” / Communications: The Twenty-First Century
  16. Poetry, Cognition, Translation
  17. Collocations : “Des mots qui vont si bien ensemble”
IV 1991 (Kingston)
V 1992 (Charlottetown)
VI 1993 (Ottawa) The Translation of Genres and Discourse
VII 1994 (Calgary)
VIII 1995 (Montréal)
IX 1996 (St-Catharines)
X 1997 (St-John’s)
XI 1998 (Ottawa)
XII 1999 (Sherbrooke)  1.Translating for Tomorrow’s Society: The Stakes of Training. Evolution, Need, and Innovations

  1. In Other Words: Re-reading, Translations and Adaptations of the Literature fo the Twentieth Century
XIII 2000 (Edmonton) Coherence and Translation
XIV 2001 (Québec) Translation and Censorship
XV 2002 (Toronto) Translation and (im)migration
XVI 2003 (Halifax) Translation and Globalization
XVII 2004 (Winnipeg) Translation and the Future of History
XVIII 2005 (London) Ethics and the Social Value of Translation
XIX 2006 (Toronto) Translating the Americas
XX 2007 (Saskatoon) Translation Formation: Pedagogy, Evaluation, and Technologies
XXI 2008 (Vancouver) Translation Theories and Practices: East Meets West
XXII 2009 (Ottawa) Translation and Philosophy
XXIII 2010 (Concordia) Research Methodology in Translation and Interpretation Studies
XXIV 2011 (Fredericton) Readings, Rereadings and Translation
XXV 2012 (Waterloo) Translation, Texts, Media
XXVI 2013 (Victoria) Science in translation
XXVII 2014 (Brock) Translation: Territories, Memory, History
XXVIII 2015 (Ottawa) Literary Translation and Canada
XXIX 2016 (Calgary) Traduction and Ethnography: Reflectivity and Representation
XXX 2017 (Ryerson) Translation, Politics and Policies
XXXI 2018 (Regina) Translation and Adaptation

Future Conferences:

XXXII 2019 (Vancouver-UBC) Material Cultures of Translation
XXXIII 2020 (Western) Non-submissive translations and subversion
XXXIV 2021 (undetermined) Translation and Journalism