Translation studies at a cross-roads

Susan Bassnet

Abstract

This article is an account of the personal journey of one writer, from her first encounters in the 1970s with fellow scholars sharing an interest in translation and a sense of frustration at the anti-translation prejudices of many colleagues working in literature or linguistics at that time. The article traces the gradual rise of translation studies as an important field in its own right, but raises questions about the present state of the discipline, arguing that as translation studies has become more established, so it is failing to challenge orthodoxies and risks being left behind by the more innovative and exciting research now emerging from within world literature, postcolonialism, and cultural memory studies. I suggest that translation studies has reached a cross-roads and needs to reach out to other disciplines, taking advantage of what is being hailed by some as a translational turn within the humanities in general.

Keywords
Table of contents

Thirty three years ago a young scholar in possession of a brand-new PhD in comparative literature came to the University of Leuven, to a conference that Edwin Gentzler has since described in his book, Contemporary Translation Theories, as “historic”. Such was the importance which that scholar attached to the Leuven event that she first made a 300 mile round trip to leave her baby with her parents, then set off from London on an epic fifteen hour journey by coach. The cost of a flight was out of the question for a single mother who had only just managed to secure a job in the United Kingdom, and the vagaries of the English Channel (La Manche if we wish to avoid any nationalist undertones) meant unfortunately that there were long delays. But such was the importance of attending that seminar, that the problems of actually getting there seemed merely incidental.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

Apter, Emily
2006The Translation Zone: A new comparative literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bachmann-Medick, Doris
2009 “Introduction: The Translational Turn”. Translation Studies 2:1. 2–16.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bassnett, Susan
(1980) 2002 “Translation Studies 3rd ed.. London & New York: Routledge.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bassnett, Susan and Harish Trivedi
eds. 1999Postcolonial Translation. Theory and Practice. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Berman, Sandra and Michael Wood
eds. 2005Nation, Language and the Ethics of Translation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bhabha, Homi
1994The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Brodzki, Bella
2007Can These Bones Live? Translation, Survival and Cultural Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Corbett, John
1999Written in the Language of the Scottish Nation. A History of Literary Translation into Scots. Clevedon and Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Cronin, Michael
2006Translation and Identity. London and New York: Routledge. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
D’haen, Theo
2011The Routledge Concise History of World Literature. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
D’haen, Theo, David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir
eds. 2011The Routledge Companion to World Literature. London and New York: Routledge. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
D’haen, Theo, César Domínguez and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen
eds. 2012World Literature: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Even-Zohar, Itamar
2000 “The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem”. Lawrence Venuti ed. The Translation Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge. 192–197.Google Scholar
Goldsworthy, Vesna
2005Chernobyl Strawberries. London: Atlantic.Google Scholar
Gentzler, Edwin
2001Contemporary Translation Theories. 2nd ed. Clevedon and Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Hermans, Theo
ed. 1985The Manipulation of Literature: Studies In Literary Translation. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
2002 “Paradoxes and aporia in translation and translation studies”. Alessandra Riccardi ed. Translation Studies: Perspectives on an Emerging Discipline. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10–23.Google Scholar
Hoffman, Eva
1985Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
Hofmeyr, Isabel
2004The Portable Bunyan. A Transnational History of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Holmes, James S.
2000 “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies”. Lawrence Venuti ed. The Translation Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge 2000 172–185.Google Scholar
Holmes, James S, José Lambert and André Lefevere
eds. 1978Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies. Leuven: ACCO.Google Scholar
[ p. 25 ]
Lefevere, André
1978 “Translation Studies: The Goal of the Discipline”. Holmes, Lambert and van den Broeck. 234–35.Google Scholar
Nikolaou, Paschalis and Maria-Venetia Kyritsi
eds. 2008Translating Selves. Experience and Identity between Languages and LiteraturesLondon: Continuum.Google Scholar
Seyhan, Azade
2001Writing Outside the Nation. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Thomsen, Mads Rosendahl
2008Mapping World Literature. International Canonization and Transnational Literatures. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
1984 “Translation, literary translation and pseudotranslation”. Comparative Criticism 6. 73–87.Google Scholar
Tymoczko, Maria
1986 “Translation as a Force for Literary Revolution in the 12th Century Shift from Epic to Romance”. New Comparison 1. 7–28.Google Scholar