About Shadow Heroes

Shadow Heroes runs series of creative workshops for secondary schools and universities, with three main aims:

  • To demonstrate the power of translation to teach critical thinking, creativity and linguistic dexterity
  • To rethink language-learning as a socially inclusive endeavour
  • To highlight the fun, varied and cross-disciplinary nature of working with languages

Translation is a powerful process of mediation, one which allows us to both express our ideas and reflect on them. It can encourage us to examine the way we use language and the implications of our linguistic choices, creating a space where students can question their own assumptions and develop their self-awareness.

Tailor-made for each student group, our workshops introduce students to excellent writers, poets, singers and artists who might otherwise be off their radar, through a wide range of languages and perspectives. Throughout, the aim is to help students grow in confidence as natural linguists and critical thinkers.

Schools are invited to develop their own workshop series in collaboration with Shadow Heroes. For more information, see our workshops. We also offer presentations about translation, and our work. Please contact us for more information.

Our approach

The Shadow Heroes approach has three central tenets: 

Multilingual classrooms

Shadow Heroes workshops are non-language specific, looking to build broad linguistic awareness and skills. They challenge the way certain languages are seen as the valuable ones to learn, so others aren’t. Drawing on the full range of languages spoken in the classroom, our workshops address disempowering tensions among multilingual students, and allow the students to take ownership of their particular language skills in a group setting.

Networked approach

Shadow Heroes works with a range of leading professionals to offer expert knowledge and diverse frames of reference to our students. Our guest workshop leaders include translators working with under-represented languages, university lecturers, subtitlers, interpreters and actors. Approachable points of contact, they are also an inspiring hook into the world of languages at this crucial stage in students’ education. 

We also collaborate with likeminded organisations including the Stephen Spender Trust, Translators in Schools, the Free Word Centre, the Poetry Translation Centre, SOAS Translation Centre, the British Library and the South Ken Kids Festival, all of which prioritise the empowerment of young people through access to linguistic and literary excellence. 

Tailored workshop series

Each workshop series is tailored to the student group in question. Working closely with our liaison teacher, we develop a series which takes into account pupils’ interests and educational needs to create a socially cohesive learning environment. For more information about how we can develop a series that is shaped around your students, please contact us.

Our team

Gitanjali Patel Co-founder and Director

Gitanjali is a translator and social researcher. She graduated from Oxford University in Spanish and Portuguese and has been translating from these languages since 2010. She translates in a range of media, from film scripts and radio programmes to fiction, including stories by Luisa GeislerMiriam MambriniFernanda Torres and, most recently, Evando Nascimento. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from SOAS, University of London, and has used translation for several social research projects, including studies on the language of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, and the emergence of favela community museums as tools of resistance, which won the Jon M. Tolman award at the BRASA XIV Congress. Alongside Shadow Heroes she works as a researcher for The Young Foundation.

Sophie Lewis Co-founder and Consultant

Sophie has been translating fiction and other literature from French since graduating from Oxford University in 2004. Following a stay in Rio de Janeiro, from 2011 to 2015, she began translating from Portuguese. Her translations include works by Stendhal, Jules Verne, Marcel Aymé, Violette Leduc, Emmanuelle Pagano, Natalia Borges Polesso and João Gilberto Noll. She has pursued a career in publishing alongside translation, running the UK office at Dalkey Archive Press, then as Senior Editor at And Other Stories publisher and currently as fiction editor at the Folio Society. She has also edited translation-rich issues of Litro and Sonofabook magazines. In 2017 her translation of Héloïse is Bald by Emilie de Turckheim received a Scott Moncrieff Prize commendation and her most recent translation, the novel Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre, was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize.

Our collaborators

Ayça Türkoğlu is a literary translator from German and Turkish into English. She studied European and Middle Eastern Languages at the University of Oxford before completing her MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. Her writing and translations have been published in Words Without Borders, In Other Words and renk magazine. She is passionate about minority languages, class and German-Turkish culture and is working on a co-translation of Selim Özdoğan’s The Blacksmith’s Daughter, forthcoming from V&Q Books (2021). She is currently learning Welsh and Ancient Greek.

Calypso Nash is a Classicist and civil servant. She studied Classics at Oxford University, and completed her PhD, ‘Philosophical Readings in Virgil’s Aeneid’, in 2017. She is passionate about giving others the opportunity to enjoy the challenges and rewards of Latin and Ancient Greek, and has taught Classics in many different ways to a wide variety of students, ranging from complete beginners at local primary schools to undergraduates at Oxford. She enjoys teaching and learning languages (most recently Russian and Arabic) alongside her current work in government.

Clémence Sebag is a translator and proofreader. She has an MA in Audiovisual Translation and has been working as a subtitler for a decade. She teaches audiovisual translation (intralingual and interlingual subtitling, voice-over, dubbing and screenplay translation) at City University, and has taught audiovisual translation and localisation at Imperial College and London Metropolitan universities. Her translations include fiction and articles on EU affairs. She is bilingual and translates both ways between French and English, and also from Spanish.

Ellen Jones is a researcher, editor, and literary translator from Spanish. She has a BA and an MSt from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from Queen Mary University of London. She writes about multilingualism and contemporary Latin American literature, for publications including the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and The Irish Times. Her translation of Rodrigo Fuentes’s short story collection Trout, Belly Up is published by Charco Press (2019) and her translation of Bruno Lloret’s novel Nancy is forthcoming from Giramondo Publishing (2020).

Emily Rose finished her PhD in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2018. Her thesis explores the translation of trans identity from English, French and Spanish. Her work has been included in Queer in Translation (Routledge 2017) and the special translation issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly (November 2016). TSQ are also publishing her first translation, excerpts of a 17th-century trans memoir, in 2019. 

Jaciara Topley Lira is a professional interpreter. Her working languages are Portuguese, French and Spanish into English and English into Portuguese. While in Brazil, she worked with clients ranging from the market research sector to the United Nations. In 2012 she returned to Europe and began working as a UN accredited interpreter. Her clients include UN agencies (WTO, WHO, ILO, WIPO, UNHCR, IOM) and the Portuguese-speaking missions to the UN. She also works regularly on the private market, with most experience in the financial sector.

Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer, poet and artist in London whose work has been presented extensively, in 15 countries. She is Modern Poetry in Translation‘s Inaugural Poet in Residence. Her books are Rope (Nine Arches) and Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis; Vietnamese translation by Red (Yen Hai), AJAR Press), and she is co-editor of Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches). You can find out more about Khairani’s work here.

Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born, London-based, semi-freelance translator. Working between Arabic and English, she part-time manages a translation team at the British Library. Her literary translations include Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter, Donia Kamal’s Cigarette No. 7, and she has contributions published in Words Without Borders, The Common, Banipal Magazine, and the poetry anthologies Beirut39 and The Hundred Years’ War.

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian. She studied German and Russian at Oxford University, trained as an interpreter and translator at Bath University, and started learning Arabic in 2004. Ruth has translated novels by Fadi Zaghmout, Hanna Winter and Kathrin Rohmann, and non-fiction books on subjects ranging from the Syrian civil war to gardening. Ruth is the Arabic tutor on Warwick Translates summer school and she has taught Arabic and Russian at several UK schools since 2007.

Sam Alexander is an actor and translator. His work in the theatre includes several seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company and One Man Two Guvnors in the West End. He recently played Alan Bennett in The Lady In The Van at the Theatre Royal Bath. He translates fiction and non-fiction from French into English. Titles include Diary of a Vampire In Pyjamas by Mathias Malzieu and the children’s picture-book series Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent.

Sawad Hussain is an Arabic translator and litterateur with an MA in Modern Arabic Literature from SOAS. A regular contributor to journals such as ArabLit and Asymptote, she has assessed Arabic works for English PEN Translation grants and was co-editor of the Arabic-English portion of the award-winning Oxford Arabic Dictionary (2014). She has lectured at IAIS and the University of Exeter, and taught KS3 & KS4 Arabic in Johannesburg and Dubai. Her recent translations include a Palestinian resistance classic by Sahar Khalifeh.

Yuka Harada-Parr is a freelance Japanese-English translator, interpreter, illustrator and cartoonist. She has also been a teacher of Japanese language and culture at English primary and higher educational colleges for over 10 years and works as an oral examiner for Japanese GCSE. Her unique teaching style mixes art, craft, visual and auditory methods in order to inspire her students about the Japanese language. She is currently completing an MA in Translation Studies at SOAS, University of London. 

Our board of advisors

Anthony Rudolf, writer, translator of Yves Bonnefoy, founder of Menard Press and publisher of Octavio Paz among others.

Daniel Hahn, award-winning translator, writer and editor, with some fifty books to his name.

David Bellos, translator, professor of comparative literature at Princeton University, author of Is that a Fish in your Ear? and The Novel of the Century.

Elena Lappin, writer and editor, is the author of What Language Do I Dream In?

Mandana Seyfeddinipur, psycholinguist and director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme and Head of the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University of London.

Our partners

The Poetry Translation Centre

The Poetry Translation Centre introduces contemporary poets from Africa, Asia and Latin America to new audiences through books, online resources and bilingual events, forging enduring relations with diaspora communities and exploring the craft of translation through hands-on workshops.

Translators in Schools

Launched in 2013, Translators in Schools is a professional development programme to widen the pool of translators and teachers with the skills to run creative translation workshops in schools.

South Ken Kids Festival

Under the patronage of Quentin Blake, and organised by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, for over two decades the South Ken Kids Festival has been promoting the best of children’s literature and fostering exchanges between authors and illustrators from both sides of the Channel.

SOAS Centre for Translation Studies

The CTS explores and develops area-based Translation Studies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Addressing questions of Translation Studies, which has developed largely based on western languages, the CTS aims to shed light on regional translation practice, theory, and philosophy.

The Queen’s College Translation Exchange

The Queen’s College Translation Exchange is an initiative at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. It brings together expertise in literary translation and outreach in Oxford and beyond to develop inspiring translation-related activities for students, schools, and the public.

Coney

Interactive theatre-makers who create games, adventures and play. Coney makes play with ideas that resonate in the world around us and works anywhere that people gather: in theatres, schools, museums, on the streets and online, and always follows the principles of adventure, curiosity and loveliness.

Multilingual Creativity Hub

The ideas and opportunities hub for practitioners promoting multilingual creativity and positive engagement with plurilingualism within mainstream schools and cultural initiatives.

University of Greenwich Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language

CREL provides a focal point for interdisciplinary research in language at the University of Greenwich and provides opportunities for research and enterprise collaborations with partners in the UK and overseas. CREL also fosters activities that bring the interdisciplinary work on language to the community and wider audiences. 

University of York Department of Education

Shadow Heroes partners with Dr Clémentine Beauvais, a Senior Lecturer in English in Education at the Department of Education. The Department hosts several research centres of relevance to (inter)cultural and literary approaches to translation (CRESJ), (CRELLU). The University is currently also the home of the National Centre for Excellence in Language Pedagogy (NCELP).

Our supporters


The RSA

The Camden Collective