Explore ANU College of Asia & Pacific research activities

More than words

Laura Davern.

A fascination with Chinese culture led Laura Davern to pursue a master’s in translation, a degree which has given her the skills to write her own destiny - both on and off the page.

Laura Davern says the art of translation is a “window into a culture”, and for Laura, what lies on the other side of the windowpane is China.

“Chinese culture has always fascinated me,” she says. “And for me, translation has been the best way to find out about China. Plus, I love reading, so it suits my learning style.”

Laura has recently completed a Master of Translation, and says she graduates with a “holistic understanding of China.”

“The Master of Translation teaches you that to accurately translate, you not only need to know the mechanics of translation, you need to understand the culture and various historical contexts.”

In her master’s, Laura focused on both contemporary and ancient translations, and says her favourite piece of work was translating parts of Yang Jiang’s memoir We Three,  written after the death of her husband (scholar-novelist Qian Zhongshu), and recounting their marriage and life together.

“What was most interesting were her descriptions of the family spending time together. They are depictions of simple family life yet the evocative language makes these family interactions seem so poignant.” 

Having enjoyed her studies so much, Laura has decided to pursue a Master of Advanced Translation, which involves the translation of an entire text. 

From working on a tragic memoir, Laura is now going to focus on a famed eroticist.

“Li Yu is an author from the Ming and Qing dynasty who is known for his erotic literature, but I’d like to show that there is a different side to Li Yu that isn’t all about eroticism!”

Her degree has not only equipped Laura with expertise on Chinese language and culture, it has also provided her with skills transferable to the field of policy, she says.

“I knew being literate in an Asian culture would be useful for working in government.,

“Learning how to translate literature means being able to develop skills that are actually quite applicable to policy development, such as being able to identify issues in the context of something and find a way to communicate it effectively.”


Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team