M1: Unit 4: Chapter 1 – Introduction

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Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 5: Capital: are translators disinterested?
Chapter 2: Hamlet lives and sings in Arabic: Is that what Shakespeare really meant? Chapter 6: Habitus and trajectory: the agency of translators
Chapter 3: Translation as a field: rethinking ‘social context’ Chapter 7: Conclusion
Chapter 4: Positions: naming the foreign Chapter 8: Bibliography

Chapter 1 – Introduction

1.1 This unit explores the key concepts in the work of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and uses them to view translation in a new light. Bourdieu’s ideas were primarily developed in connection with literature, the plastic arts and popular culture. Drawing on his key concepts, this unit will focus on translation as both a social act and a cultural product. I do not intend to provide a detailed theoretical discussion of Bourdieu’s work. Rather, I will use a concrete case, the first published translation of Hamlet into Arabic, as an illustration to show how Bourdieu’s ideas can be of practical use in translation research.

1.2 At the end of each chapter you will be asked to answer a question or accomplish a task. In order to finish these tasks you need to compile a corpus of three texts: a source text and two different translations of it. It does not matter if the two translations are distant or close in time. It would help if the two translations are targeted at different types of audience. Answers and solutions are provided, but these are not meant to be final answers; they are just meant to help you think about the translations you have compiled for your corpus.