Proposal Guidelines for the Virtual 2020 ALTA Conference

Proposal Guidelines for the Virtual 2020 ALTA Conference

Propose a Session or reading


The ALTA Conference Committee invites proposals for readings and sessions for ALTA's 43rd annual conference. ALTA43: "In Between" will take place virtually in fall 2020, and we’ve moved back our proposal deadline to give us all time to adapt to our new circumstances. Read about this year’s theme and official call for sessions on our conference web page. On our blog, you can read a letter from staff and the 2020 Conference Committee about our conference format and the revised call for proposals.

In the results to the virtual conference survey, you let us know that that among your highest priorities for a virtual ALTA is the chance to learn from and take part in sessions. And this fall, our online platform will allow us to expand upon our idea of what an ALTA session looks like. Every synchronous (real-time) session will be able to show PowerPoints, images, video clips, or text, and engage your audience via chat and/or live Q&A. 

The annual tradition of the Alexis Levitin Bilingual reading series will continue as well. A virtual conference will allow for translators and their authors to read together, wherever they may be in the world! 

You also told us you’re feeling burnt out by the amount of time you’re spending online. So as to keep things as engaging as possible, we’ve changed the timing of programming, allowing you to propose translation-related content (sessions and readings) in varying blocks of time, from 5-minute readings to 60-minute workshops (more on this below). This last change means that session proposals and submissions to the Annual Alexis Levitin Bilingual Reading Series are all collected through this one form

You may be asked to log in to our virtual conference platform to share your content in real-time, or we may ask you to pre-record it (especially for shorter readings). You have the option to tell us what you prefer when you fill out the proposal form. Regardless, all participants must register for the conference. Registration for the conference will open on July 21, 2020; more information about registration is available here

Session and reading decisions will be sent out in mid-July. If your session or reading is accepted, it will automatically be programmed! We are offering more time to members to submit proposals, but because this creates a shorter time frame for the organizing committee to set the conference schedule, we will not be offering the option to add/change participants or session descriptions once you submit. What you submit will be your final lineup and description. Please note that accepted sessions and readings may be asked to send in prerecorded material, with a deadline of August 21, 2020.

We welcome everyone to our conference and are committed to making our programming and events accessible and to making arrangements that allow all attendees to participate in the conversation. Please view our Accessibility web page for more information. It will be updated frequently throughout the upcoming months, as we know more about our virtual platform.

Questions may be sent to ALTA Program Manager Kelsi Vanada at

Submit your session and reading proposals in one of these time blocks:

  • 5 minutes (flash bilingual readings)
  • 10 minutes
  • 20 minutes
  • 45 minutes (30-minute presentations with 15 minutes of Q&A)
  • 60 minutes (workshops only) 

Examples of what you might propose:

  • A 5-minute bilingual reading
  • A 10-minute reading of a children’s story in translation, as you share your screen to show a pdf of the illustrations for attendees to view
  • A 20-minute pre-recorded video conversation between you and an author you translate
  • A 20-minute translation slam, with a moderator asking two translators to describe their process of translating (prior to the session) the same paragraph of a text into English, with excerpts of their translations displayed on-screen for viewers to compare
  • A 45-minute reading, in parts, of an excerpt from a translated play (with time for audience Q&A)
  • A 45-minute moderated roundtable discussion of how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected small-press publishing 
  • A 60-minute workshop for emerging translators who submit texts to you for consideration ahead of time

Recommendations for proposing your session or reading:

  • A maximum of four presenters will be allowed per session, including the moderator.
  • In order to propose a 45- or 60-minute session, the session organizer must be a current ALTA member. If you have not yet renewed your membership, please do so on this page.
  • Non-members may propose 5-, 10-, or 20-minute sessions or readings, though programming submitted by members may be prioritized during the selection process.
  • ALTA is all about the conversation. The Conference Committee will prioritize proposals for sessions that allow for audience participation via Q&A (which may be through a chat feature), or other forms of interactivity.
  • Please note that ALTA asks participants not to read papers during sessions, but instead to encourage a wider discussion format between panelists (and audience). Notes may of course be used to prompt, but rote reading does not serve the ALTA conference or its attendees. You can read the full policy in ALTA's Conference Terms and Conditions
  • Attendees may only participate in two conference sessions total. Session/reading organizers, please make sure your  participants are aware of this limit. Since there will not be time to change lineups this year, please put yourself forward for no more than 2 events.
  • For guidelines regarding writing your bio, please navigate to this page. Google Forms do not allow italics, so you may choose to designate titles by placing an underscore before and after as a signal to organizers, like this: _What's Left of the Night_.
  • For readings, you will need to assent to the following statement: "I warrant that the text I plan to read is either in the public domain, or that I have the rights from the original right-holder to translate the text and publish the translation in an audio form (that is, to read it out loud for a recording)."

You will need the following to submit a proposal:

  • For all proposals: Full names, email addresses, and 50-word bios for all organizers and participants (maximum of 4 presenters total, including the moderator).
  • For sessions: Session organizer membership status, session title, session length, 800-character description, language focus (if applicable).
  • For readings (1-3 readers): Reading length; title of text; original author name, language, and country; 100-word synopsis; permission to read the text aloud (see above).
  • Optional information: Input scheduling requests for participants, tell us whether you prefer to present synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (prerecorded) material, opt out of conference-related mailings.

Propose a Session or reading