M2: Unit 3: Chapter 1 – Introduction

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Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 5: Relationships between narratives Chapter 9: Narration and frames
Chapter 2: Redefining narrative Chapter 6: Four features of narrative (Part I) Chapter 10: Advantages of narrative theory
Chapter 3: Four types of narrative (Part I) Chapter 7: Four features of narrative (Part II) Chapter 11: Using narrative theory
Chapter 4: Four types of narrative (Part II) Chapter 8: Ethics and activism Chapter 12: Bibliography

Chapter 1 – Introduction

This unit aims to provide an introduction to the sociological understanding of narrative as an active, reality-constructing tool. In recent years this narrative approach has been adopted by several translation and interpreting theorists as a powerful framework for exploring practitioners’ choices, as well as for examining the ethical implications of those choices. This unit will draw on the work of many of these theorists, and in particular on the work of Mona Baker, the leading theorist in the narrative approach to translation and interpreting studies.

The unit will begin with an overview of the sociological concept of narrativity, including an examination of the types and features of narrative identified by Somers and Gibson (1994). It will then explore how theorists in the field of translation and interpreting studies have drawn on this concept in their research, particularly in relation to questions of responsibility, ethics and activism. The unit will end by suggesting some areas of research in translation and interpreting studies where adopting a sociological approach to narrative could be particularly fruitful.

At various points in the unit we will think about how the sociological understanding of narrative relates to translating and interpreting to help you to consider how this theory could be applied to your own research. Questions throughout the unit will prompt discussion about the issues being addressed and raise awareness of examples of narrativity from the world around you. A bibliography is provided to direct you towards further reading.

By the end of this unit you will hopefully have a better idea of what we mean by ‘narrative theory’ in relation to translation and interpreting studies and a clearer sense of direction in terms of where you can find out more and how you can apply the narrative approach to your own work.