The cultural approach or ‘cultural turn’ (see The turns of Translation Studies), as it is commonly known, is a theoretical and methodological shift in Translation Studies that gained recognition in the early nineties and is primarily associated with the work of Susan Bassnett, André Lefevere and, later, Lawrence Venuti. While drawing on Descriptive Translation Studies, especially the work of the so called ‘Manipulation School’ (Hermans 1985), and sharing in the target-orientedness of polysystems theory and Gideon Toury’s work on norms of translation, the cultural approach also reflects a more general shift in epistemological stance in the humanities and beyond, from ‘positivism’ to ‘relativity’, from a belief in finding universal standards for phenomena to a belief that phenomena are influenced (if not determined) by the observer. Although primarily developed from the study of literature, the cultural approach has been seen to cut across the literature v. non-literature divide as it ‘implicitly embraces all kinds of translation’ (Snell-Hornby 1990: 84).
Bassnett, Susan & Lefevere, André
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