Stockholm university

Cecilia Alvstad

About me

I no longer work at Stockholm University.

I am Professor in Translation Studies. In my research I explore literary translation from textual, actor-oriented and societal perspectives. I have a PhD-degree in Spanish from the University of Gothenburg, 2003, with a dissertation on translation of children's literature in Argentina. I was Associate Professor at Linköping University in 2006. From 2007-2018 I was Associate Professor in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Oslo, Norway, from 2014 as Full Professor.


I teach translation bachelor's and master's courses on translation theory and literary translation. For the interpreting bachelor's degree I teach courses on theory and academic writing. At Master's level I teach 'Translation and Society' and at PhD-level translation theory.


Research interests

  • Voice in translation. Sociological, narratological and ethical perspectives.
  • Translation of Latin American literature into Swedish.
  • Translation of children's literature.
  • Translation in and of travel writing

Major grants

Principal applicant

  • Traveling Texts: Translation and Transnational Reception. University of Oslo. Budget: NOK 5,000,000 + two more doctoral positions (2014–2018).
  • Voices of Translation: Rewriting Literary Texts in Scandinavian Contexts. Research Council of Norway. Budget: NOK 11,575,000 + one more doctoral positions financed by the University of Oslo (2012–2017). 
  • Scandinavia Translates the Americas. The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities/The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Budget: SEK 6,500,000 (2011).
  • Research intiation: Conference Text-Process-Textat Stockholm University, November 17–19, 2011. Riksbanken Tercententanary Fund SEK 190,000 
  • Fjärranfiktioner: De arabiska, afrikanska och latinamerikanska litteraturernas svenska översättningshistoria (Images and Imaginations: The History of Arabic, African and Latin American Literatures in Translation into Swedish). Swedish Research Council. Budget: SEK 2,800,000 (2007–2009). 
  • One-year scholarship for my PhD-studies from The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation 1997–1998, 160,000 SEK


  • Desired Immigrants – Frustrated Adventurers? Norwegians in Latin America, 1820–1940. Principal applicant: Steinar A. Sæther. Research Council of Norway (2011–2015).
  • Främlingskap och främmandegöring : förhållningssätt till skönlitteratur i universitetsundervisningen(Estrangement and Defamiliarization: Approaches to Literature in Academic Teaching Situations). Principal applicant: Staffan Thorson. Swedish Research Council. Budget: SEK 2,430,000 (2004–2006).


Main supervisor

  1. Eva Refsdal When ‘a girl’ becomes ‘an attractive little number’: Stereotyped representations of Latin America in literary translation and reception in 1960s Norway, Thesis defended January 8, 2016, University of Oslo.
  2. Siri Fürst Skogmo. Marked language in literary translation. Mapping challenges and solutions in five English novels and their Norwegian translations.Thesis defended March 2, 2017, University of Oslo.
  3. Kristina Solum, Literary Translation as Collaboration: Textual and Contextual Approaches. Thesis defended April, 9 2018. 
  4. Ida Hove Solberg on “Feminism in Translation: The Multiple Translatorship of Simone de Beauvoir’s Le deuxième sexe in Norway”. Thesis defended April, 20, 2018.


  1. Rosario Garnemark Ingmar Bergman y el franquismo: Reescrituras ideológicas y posibilismo en el contexto de la Apertura(1960–1967). Thesis defended on March 8, 2013, University of Oslo.
  2. Lars Liljegren The Taming of a Viking: August Strindberg, Translation and Post-Victorian Censorship (Linköping University). Thesis defended November, 16, 2018.
  3. Idun Heir Senstad on translation of Cuban literature into Norwegian. Oslo Metropolitan University.
  4. Lars Jämterud on translator voice in Swedish subtitles. Linköping University.
  5. Anabela Valente “The Role of Translation in the Construction of the Nordic Noir Genre and Nordic Culture in Other Countries”. Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Commissions of trust

Recent publications

Cecilia Alvstad & Claudine Borg (2020) The impact of awards on the translation and circulation of children’s literature into semi-peripheral and peripheral languages, Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/0907676X.2020.1839521 Open access.

Cecilia Alvstad (2020) Anthropology over Aesthetics: On the Poetics of Movement and Multilingualism in Three Translations of Yuri Herrera’s Señales que precederán al fin del mundo. InLiteratura latinoamericana mundial: Dispositivos y disidencias / [ed] Gustavo Guerrero, Jorge J. Locane, Benjamin Loy, Gesine Müller, Walter de Gruyter, 2020, p. 223-241 Chapter in book (Refereed). Open access.

Annjo K. Greenall, Cecilia Alvstad, Hanne Jansen & Kristiina Taivalkoski-Shilov (2019) Introduction: voice, ethics and translation, Perspectives, 27:5, 639-647, DOI: 10.1080/0907676X.2019.1631862


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Children’s Literature

    2019. Cecilia Alvstad. The Routledge Handbook of Literary Translation, 159-180


    Adults as well both can and do read children's literature, either together with children or without them, just like children and young adults can read diverse literary materials targeting adults. The origins of children's literature are often traced back to early modern educational books for boys and girls that taught religious virtues and good manners to the upper classes. Some kinds of topics are by many adults deemed to be especially difficult for children to deal with, such as books culminating in a suicide, since such a denouement would leave the reader without any hope for a change for the better. After some initial reflections on the translation of children's literature as a performative and multimodal practice, the chapter presents a series of examples of typical interventions that take place in the translation of children's literature regarding violence, religion, racism and sexuality.

    Read more about Children’s Literature
  • The Proliferating Paths of Jorge Luis Borges’ Work in Translation and the Resistance to an Innovative Trait

    2019. Cecilia Alvstad. Translation and World Literature, 144-158


    This chapter focuses on a few selected translations of Borges literary prose, showing that Borges translators have chosen different paths, and that these are not always reconcilable one with the other. In the story, a Chinese agent working for the Germans in World War I is about to kill a random British citizen named Albert. All the versions, along with scholarly studies on Borges, talks with friends and colleagues, and research visits to the Centro Cultural Borges and the Museo Borges in Buenos Aires are sure to have influenced literature present idea of Borges' literary heritage. Butler and Boldy are clearly discussing the same story and the same sentences here, but the difference between their two readings is striking. Innovative metafiction was also changed into more traditional forms in other Swedish translations of the work of Latin American writers in the 1960s.

    Read more about The Proliferating Paths of Jorge Luis Borges’ Work in Translation and the Resistance to an Innovative Trait
  • The impact of awards on the translation and circulation of children's literature into semi-peripheral and peripheral languages

    2020. Cecilia Alvstad, Claudine Borg. Perspectives


    The article sheds light on the impact of awards on the translation of children's literature into semi-peripheral and peripheral languages and its transnational circulation. In relation to literature for adults, it has been argued that awards instigate both translation and circulation. This article examines whether a similar claim holds true also for children's literature translated into semi-peripheral and peripheral languages, taking Swedish and Maltese as respective examples. First, we examine to what extent laureates of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing (1956-2018) have been translated into Swedish and Maltese. Then, we turn to circulation and examine the availability of the laureates' work in the target contexts, looking at what may currently be acquired from libraries and online bookshops in Sweden and Malta. Contrary to previous claims made regarding literary awards, our findings show that this major award for children's literature did not decisively stimulate translation neither into the semi-peripheral language Swedish nor the peripheral Maltese. With regard to circulation, however, the findings provide further support for claims made in the literature, since the work by the laureates circulate widely both in Sweden and Malta.

    Read more about The impact of awards on the translation and circulation of children's literature into semi-peripheral and peripheral languages
  • Översättningsvetenskapens värde i samhället

    2020. Cecilia Alvstad. Mellom (2), 146-160


    Har översättnintgsvetenskapen något värde för samhället? Det finns åtminstone två sätt att närma sig den frågan. Svaret skulle kunna vara en reflektion över forskningens relevans för översättare och andra som jobbar med översättningar. Man kan då tänka sig att översättningsforskning har, eller i alla fall borde ha, ett värde för den typ av problem som översättare brottas med när de översätter, samt översättarutbildningar, översätningskvalite, översättares effektivitet, utveckling av programvara, uppdragsgivarnas förståelse av uppdraget, lexikon och andra verktyg. Men svaret skulle också kunna gå i en annan riktning, greppa bredare om man så vill, rakt in i de stora samhällsfrågorna som klimatförändringar, krig, social och global ojämlikhet, trafficking och den pandemi som pågår i skrivande stund, sommaren 2020. I denna text kommer jag främst behandla frågan om översättningsforskningens eventuella värde för samhället ur detta senare perspektiv.

    Read more about Översättningsvetenskapens värde i samhället
  • Introduction

    2019. Annjo K. Greenall (et al.). Perspectives 27 (5), 639-647


    Although previous research on ethics demonstrates growing awareness that many agents or subjectivities besides translators and interpreters are involved in translation and interpreting processes, the consequences of this multiplicity for thinking about ethics in translation still lacks focused attention. In this introduction, we show how this special issue, titled Voice, Ethics and Translation, reduces this gap by highlighting the concept of voice and the idea that the world of translating and interpreting consists of many voices ‘having a say’. This carries with it the potential for negotiation, conflict and dissent regarding what constitutes good and bad translation and interpreting practice. The nine contributions discuss questions such as whose voices are involved in ethical negotiations, what is the nature of these negotiations, who has more power to have their voices heard, and whether translators and interpreters should be given more trust and responsibility. As evinced by these various contributions, a consensus seems to be emerging to the effect that rather than blindly following outside authorities in ethical matters, translators and interpreters need to be encouraged to independently reflect on a variety of voices on ethics and be actively conscientious and responsible in actual translation and interpreting situations.

    Read more about Introduction

Show all publications by Cecilia Alvstad at Stockholm University