Multiple-entry visa to travelling theory: Retranslations of literary and cultural theories

Şebnem Susam-Sarajeva

Abstract

The article questions certain assumptions about retranslation which prevail rather unchallenged in Translation Studies, and discusses the terminological issues involved in retranslating theoretical texts. By presenting examples from two case studies, namely the reception of Roland Barthes’s work in Turkey and of Hélène Cixous’s work in Anglo-America, it examines the reasons underlying the abundance vs. rarity of retranslations in each case, respectively. Throughout the article, I contend that the factors of dominance, elasticity, tolerance, and power of the source and receiving systems involved determine whether travelling theory will be granted a multiple-entry visa to literary and cultural systems through retranslation.

Keywords:
Table of contents

This article forms part of a doctoral thesis in which I studied the role translation plays in the importation of literary and cultural theories (Susam-Sarajeva 2002). The thesis focuses on two case studies: the importation of structuralism and semiotics—and especially the works of Roland Barthes—into the Turkish literary critical system, and the importation of what is usually termed ‘French feminism’—and especially the works of Hélène Cixous—into the Anglo- American academic feminist critical system. The two cases share many features, as well as demonstrating some telling differences between the source and receiving systems involved. In the present article these cases will be compared mainly from the point of view of current hypotheses on retranslations within Translation Studies.

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