Translating Illness is an interdisciplinary research project created by Dr Marta Arnaldi, Laming Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. The project consists of a programme of international collaborations and a series of seminars, podcasts and video conversations. Translating Illness has been inspired by Marta’s academic background in comparative literature and medicine, and has been awarded funds from Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF), OUP-Oxford John Fell Fund, The Queen’s College and St Anne’s College (Early-Career Research Award), Oxford.

What do medicine and translation have in common? In what sense, and to what extent, is translation used in contexts as different as the transfer of meaning from one language (or medium) to the other, the concept of knowledge translation, and the process of protein synthesis? How will a nuanced understanding of translation help us advance in literary and linguistic studies as well as in clinical research? Translating Illness explores these questions from an integrated, biocultural viewpoint, with the aim to endorse, promote and inspire translation outside our area of expertise, and our common understanding.

Creative Team

Marta Arnaldi

Dr Arnaldi is a medical humanities scholar, a ballet dancer, and the author of an award-winning poetry collection. She grew up in Sanremo, in the Ligurian region of Italy, not far from the French border. After studying Medicine and Surgery at the University of Turin, she obtained a BA (Turin), an MA (Pavia), an M.St. (Oxford) and a doctorate (Oxford), specialising in comparative literature, diaspora studies, and translation. She is the author of 13 articles and book chapters, a co-edited volume, two poetry collections, and a monograph. Currently, she is a Laming Junior Research Fellow at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford, as well as the Deputy Director of the Oxford Medical Humanities Summer School. 

Kira Allmann

Dr Allmann is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media Law & Policy in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. She is also a writer, audio producer, and graphic designer and co-founder of the creative-research collective Cherry Soup.

Eoin Kelleher

Eoin Kelleher is a junior doctor and a cartoonist from Dublin, Ireland. He designed the Translating Illness logo.


Gloria Boeri

Gloria Boeri is a doctoral researcher in Art History at the University of Oxford. She is a co-founder of Visualising Illness.

Emma Bond

Emma Bond is Senior Lecturer in Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of St Andrews, UK. Her previous publications include Disrupted Narratives: Illness, Silence and Identity in Svevo, Pressburger and Morandini (2012), and the co-edited volumes Freud and Italian Culture (2009), Il confine liquido: rapporti letterari e interculturali fra Italia e Albania (2013), Destination Italy: Representing Migration in Contemporary Media and Narrative (2015) and Goliarda Sapienza in Context: Intertextual Relationships with Italian and European Culture (2016).

Chas Bountra

Chas Bountra is Professor of Translational Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford. He is Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Affordable Medicines and has been elected Oxford’s new Pro Vice-Chancellor, Innovation. 

Sally Rachel Cook

Dr Sally Rachel Cook obtained her PhD in 2019 from Birkbeck, University of London. She explored the experience of multilingualism in the therapeutic journey of survivors of torture. Her research covers refugees, multilingualism, emotions and rehabilitation.

Vernon David

Vernon C. David studied Cello at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore Maryland with Mihaly Virizlay and has a Masters in Composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (MA, USA). He studied chamber music at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and at the Johannesen International School of the Arts in Vancouver BC. He participated at the Buffalo Festival as a composer where his music was performed by the Arditti Quartet. His chamber music has been performed in UK, France, Greece, Italy and the United States.  

Jean-Marc Dewaele 

Jean-Marc Dewaele is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published widely on individual differences in psychological and emotional variables in Second Language Acquisition and Multilingualism. He is a former president of the International Association of Multilingualism and the European Second Language Association. He is General Editor of the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. He won the Equality and Diversity Research Award from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (2013) and the Robert Gardner Award for Excellence in Second Language and Bilingualism Research (2016) from the International Association of Language and Social Psychology.

Claudia Durastanti

Claudia Durastanti (Brooklyn, 1984) is an Italian writer and translator. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Strega Prize and Viareggio Prize. She is a graduate of the Sapienza University of Rome and studied at De Montfort University. Her work appeared in Internazionale and Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a co-founder of the Italian Festival of Literature, London.

Eivind Engebretsen

Eivind Engebretsen is Professor of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo. Eivind has recently been elected Vice-Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the Oslo Faculty of Medicine, and he is the co-founder of Norway’s first Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education. Since 2017, Prof Engebretsen has co-led the Oslo-based project ‘The Body in Translation: Historicising and Reinventing Medical Humanities and Knowledge Translation’, a transdisciplinary endeavour which has shaped a new field of research at the intersection of translation studies and the medical sciences.

Charles Forsdick

Charles Forsdick is the James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. Since 2012, he has been AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow for ‘Translating Cultures’. He has published widely on travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial literature, comics, penal culture, and the afterlives of slavery. Professor Forsdick is a member of the Academy of Europe.

Nicola Gardini

Nicola Gardini is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Keble College, University of Oxford, a painter, and a writer. He has published poetry, novels, essays, literary monographs, memoirs and translations. He is the recipient of several literary awards, including the prestigious Viareggio Prize for his novel Le Parole Perdute di Amelia Lynd (Feltrinelli, 2012), translated into English by Michael F. Moore under the title Lost Words (New Directions, 2016).

Trish Greenhalgh

Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. She is Co-Director of the ‘Interdisciplinary Research in Health Sciences’ (IRIHS) Unit, a programme of research at the interface between social sciences and medicine. She was awarded the OBE for Services to Medicine in 2001 and made a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014.

Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth Harris is a literary translator from the U.S and Professor of Creative Writing. Translations include novels, story collections and nonfiction by Mario Rigoni Stern, Giulio Mozzi, Antonio Tabucchi, Andrea Bajani, and others. Translated books published or forthcoming with Autumn Hill Books; Open Letter Books; Archipelago Books; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Riverhead Books. Awards include a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, the Italian Prose in Translation Award, and the National Translation Award.

Banafshé Larijani

Banafshé Larijani is Director of the Centre for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), University of Bath. Since 2002, she has been Head of Cell Biophysics Laboratory at Cancer Research UK. She holds adjunct professorships with Stony Brooks University NY and University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA, USA. Banafshé studied English and Comparative Literature in Paris and Oxford with Stephen Romer and John Fuller. She is also a published poet. With cellist composer Vernon C. David, she performed her poetry in Paris, Oxford, London, New York and Boston. Much of her work examines the collision of matter and spirit, the rational and the irrational. 

Karen Leeder

Karen Leeder is a writer, translator and leading British scholar of German culture. She is Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Oxford, where she was Associate Head of the Humanities Division (2015-17). In 2017, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and 2020 she was elected to the Academia Europaea. Her interests range from poetry and the poetic tradition to modernity, GDR literature, contemporary German culture, lateness, women’s writing, angels, spectres, translation, Rilke, and Brecht. 

Kirsten Ostherr

Kirsten Ostherr is the Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She is a media scholar, health researcher and technology analyst as well as the founder and director of the ‘Medical Humanities Program’ and the ‘Medical Futures Lab’ at Rice. Prof Ostherr is the author of numerous publications including two outstanding books: Medical Visions: Producing the Patient through Film, Television and Imaging Technologies (OUP, 2013) and Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health (Duke, 2005).

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds is Professor of English and Comparative Criticism at the University of Oxford, and a novelist. His recent research (AHRC-funded, 2016-20) develops the concept of Prismatic Translation, looking at the power of translation to multiply and regenerate texts in different times and places. He is founder and chair of the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation research centre. Matthew’s creative work tends to explore space, languages, awkwardness, trust and mistrust in ways that have some points of contact with his criticism and scholarship. 

Stephen Romer

Stephen Romer is an English poet, academic, literary critic and translator. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Stephen has taught for many years at the University of Tours, and lived in the Loire Valley. He has published widely on aspects of French and British Modernism, producing chapters in academic books, and reviews for the Guardian and the TLS.  

Karen Thornber

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. She is the author of multiple publications, including three monographs that have shaped and transformed the fields of world literature, global literature, environmental humanities, and medical humanities. Professor Thornber’s latest volume, entitled Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care (Brill 2020), engages with literature and other writings from six continents, more than fifty countries, and more than two dozen languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish.

Ross White

Ross White is the Research Director on the Doctorate of Clinical Psychology training programme at the University of Liverpool. He leads the ‘Mental Health in Context’ research group at the Liverpool Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, which investigates how mental health is affected by dynamic interactions between people, places, and spaces. He has research collaborations with the World Health Organization and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees investigating the efficacy of psychosocial interventions for reducing distress experienced by refugees particularly in the context and/or aftermath of humanitarian crises. He was lead editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health (2017).


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