Tom Cheesman (born 1961 in Liverpool) is a Reader in German at Swansea University, literary critic and literary translator.
Tom is Principal Investigator on the collaborative, "Version Variation Visualisation" project. which investigates digital humanities approaches to analysing re-translations. His Case Study on Translations of Shakespeare's Othello investigates by advanced technology, how and why different translations of the same original text often differ significantly from each other. At this, initial stage, the project will concentrate its investigations on works of William Shakespeare.
Cheesman grew up in Durham, temporarily lived in Germany and France and now lives in Swansea, Wales.
The doctor of philology has numerous contributions (books and articles in journals) published in particular in the field of intercultural literature and has also published books himself. He has published in German.
Tom was the Principal Researcher on the "Axial Writing Project" (1998–2002), part of the ESRC Transnational Communities Research Programme, and co-established non-profit "Hafan Books" in 2003, to publish literary texts by refugees in Wales. Tom is currently (2014) the treasurer of Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group.
In 2013, Tom Cheesman, who is also a Wikipedia editor, started to crowd source translations to top-up his research into translations of Othello together with Dr Robert Laramee and Dr Jonathan Hope. On Wikimedia UK's Water Cooler describes his www.delightedbeauty.org project as a self-made Google site which displays around 180 versions, in over 30 languages, of one rhyming couplet from Shakespeare's Othello (1604). Cheesman is quoted as saying, "This one couplet is a great challenge for translators, because of its ambiguity, its punning wordplay and its controversial implications regarding race, gender and political power. Each version expresses a different interpretation, making a fascinating study in re-translation-mutation-adaptation … or 'versioning'. There can be no 'straight translation' of Shakespeare's language. I do believe that a WikiProject could develop this site in magnificent, way!"
On the VVV website the project team professionals, students and translators uploaded translations of the following two lines of verse:If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.
Readers are asked to crowd source these two lines together with a literal translation into English. The project has 150 versions in 22 languages and ultimately hopes to gather more than 300 versions in over 100 languages, thus creating a global snapshot of when, where and how Othello recompiled.