The Translation Studies Reader

Venuti, L.  The Translation Studies Reader. London and New York, 2000


THIS READER GATHERS essays, articles, and book chapters that represent many of the main approaches to the study of translation developed during the twentieth century, focusing particularly on the past thirty years. It was during this period that translation studies emerged as a new academic field, at once international and interdisciplinary. The need for a reader is thus partly institutional, created by the rapid growth of the discipline, especially as evidenced by the proliferation of translator training programs worldwide. Recent surveys indicate more than 250, offering a variety of certificates and degrees, undergraduate and graduate, training not only professional translators, but also scholar-teachers of translation and of foreign languages and literatures (Caminade and Pym 1995; Harris 1997). This growth has been accompanied by diverse forms of translation research and commentary, some oriented toward pedagogy, yet most falling within—or crossing—traditional academic disciplines, such as linguistics, literary criticism, philosophy, and anthropology. The aim of the reader is to bring together a substantial selection from this varied mass of writing, but in the form of a historical survey that invites sustained examination of key theoretical developments

Of course, edited volumes always work to define a field, a body of knowledge,a textbook market, and so they create as much as satisfy institutional needs,especially in the case of emergent disciplines. In translation studies, the broad spectrum of theories and research methodologies may doom any assessment of its “current state” to partial representation, superficial synthesis, optimistic canonization. This Reader is intended to be an introduction to the field recognizable to the scholars who work within it. But the intention is also to challenge any disciplinary complacency, to produce a consolidation that is interrogative, to show what translation studies have been and to suggest what they might be.

The readings are organized into five chronological sections, divided into the century’s decades and the date of publication for each reading appears at the foot of its first page. Whether a decade stands on its own or is combined with others depends solely on the volume of translation commentary published within it, sheer bibliographical quantity (cf. the bibliographies in Morgan 1959, Steiner 1975, Schulte and Biguenet 1992). The sections are each prefaced by introductory essays which present a history of main trends in translation studies, establishing a context for concise expositions of the readings and calling attention to the work of influential writers, theorists, and scholars who are not represented by a reading. The section introductions are historical narratives that refer to theoretical and methodological advances and occasionally offer critical evaluations. Yet the stories they tell avoid any evolutionary model of progress, as well as any systematic critique. I wanted to outline, however rapidly, the history of the present moment in translation studies. And to some degree this meant asking questions of the past raised by the latest tendencies in theory and research.

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