The ‘engendering’ approach in audiovisual translation

Marcella De Marco

Within academia gender analysis has been circumscribed mainly to Social Sciences. For years the focus of this analysis has been on the unbalanced representation of men and women as perceived through the use of the (sexist) grammatical and linguistic patterns of a language – for example, in literature – and the use of the images selected to portray male and female bodies – in the case of the mass media. With time, an interest in the implications that also the translation of written and audiovisual texts may have on the representation and perception of gender has grown, and attention has gradually shifted from the literary translation field to the audiovisual one. In the last decade, the study of audiovisual translation discourse from a gender perspective has ranged over a number of genres (TV series, films and commercials) and has resulted in a fruitful debate around the manifold approaches from which gender bias may be investigated, questioned and eventually reversed. In particular, De Marco (2012) has shed light on how much the consideration of audiovisual translation (AVT) as a social practice may benefit from implementing theories inherent to the multifaceted disciplines of Linguistics, Gender Studies, Film Studies and, obviously, Translation Studies. The present article discusses the extent to which such an interdisciplinary and ‘engendering’ approach may contribute to building a valid methodological framework within which AVT can be explored. At the same time, it highlights the limitations entailed by the difficulty of applying the same approach to the study of such a practical area – AVT – in which gender priorities are not perceived as important as other professional priorities.

Table of contents

The growth of audiovisual translation (AVT), not only as a professional activity which has found a fertile ground for establishment in the developments of the DVD and digital industry, but also as a scholarly discipline, has involved a shift in the research approaches adopted to explore this activity/discipline. In the past twenty years we have witnessed a multiplication of foci in the analysis of audiovisual programmes and their translations. We have enlarged the study of the technical dimension of these texts (Gottlieb 1994) and the peculiarities of – and challenges posed by – different AVT modes (Agost 1999; Pettit 2004) with the study of their social dimension, in terms of both the diverse social needs of some sectors of the audience that AVT may serve (Matamala and Orero 2010), and the economic and ideological hurdles which affect the distribution and translation of these texts (Hernández Bartolomé and Mendiluce Cabrera 2005; Díaz Cintas 2012).

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