Cultural approaches

Cristina Marinetti
Table of contents

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).

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Bassnett, Susan & Lefevere, André
(eds) 1990Translation, History and Culture. London: Pinter.  TSBGoogle Scholar
1998Constructing Cultures. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Hermans, Theo
(ed.) 1985The Manipulation of Literature. Beckenham: Croom Helm.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Lefevere, André
1985“Why Waste our Time on Rewrites.” In The Manipulation of Literature, Theo Hermans. Beckenham: Croom Helm.  TSBGoogle Scholar
1992Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of the Literary Fame. London: Routledge.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Pym, Anthony
2010Exploring Translation Theories. London: Routledge.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Singh, Rajendra
2007“Unsafe at any speed? Some unfinished reflections on the ‘cultural turn’ in Translation Studies.” In In Translation - Reflections, Refractions, Transformations, Paul St-Pierre & Kar C. Prafulla (eds), 73–84. Amsterdam: John Benjamins  BoP. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Snell-Hornby, Mary
1990“Linguistic Transcoding or Cultural Transfer? A Critique of Translation Theory in Germany.” In Translation, History and Culture, Susan Bassnett & André Lefevere (eds), 79–86. London: Pinter.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Venuti, Lawrence
1995The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London: Routledge  BoP. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1998The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference. London: Routledge. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar

Further reading

Bachman-Medick, Doris
2009“Introduction: The Translational Turn.” Translation Studies 2 (1): 2–16. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Casanova, Pascale
2007The World Republic of Letters. Translated by M.B.Bevoise. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Gentzler, Edwin
2001Contemporary Translation Theories. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Tymoczko, Maria & Gentzler, Edwin
(eds) 2002Translation and Power. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Venuti, Lawrence
2008“Translations, Simulacra and Resistance.” Translation Studies 1 (1): 18–33. DOI logoGoogle Scholar