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Dr Sameh Fekry Hanna

Thesis Abstract

Towards a Sociology of Drama Translation: A Bourdieusian Perspective on Translations of Shakespeare’s Great Tragedies in Egypt

The main aim of this thesis is to develop a sociological model for the study of drama translation, based on the work of Pierre Bourdieu. The basic tenets of Bourdieu's sociology are used to elaborate a methodology for the study of Arabic translations of Shakespeare's great tragedies - namely, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth - in Egypt. The thesis engages in a detailed discussion of Bourdieu's sociology of cultural production, its intellectual underpinnings, conceptual tools and methodological relevance to both translation in general and drama translation in particular.

The study postulates a field of drama translation that took shape during turn of the century Egypt. The dynamic structure of this field is shown to be engendered by a struggle involving producers and co-producers of drama translation. This struggle took place between two groups of producers of drama translation: a group which strove to dissociate drama translation in Egypt from the dictates of commercial theatres, and another which paid more attention to the demands of the market.   

Bourdieu's concept of the 'power of naming' provides insight into the foundational acts of naming used by both the early theatre makers and drama translators to designate their activities. These acts of naming are suggestive of how theatre makers and drama translators perceived their work, what socio-cultural realities they attended to and which consumers they targeted. The first published translation of Hamlet into Arabic by Tanyks 'Abdu, which was staged in 1901 and published a year later, offers an illustrative example of the early practices of Shakespeare translators in Egypt and the boundaries of the field of drama translation at large.

The rise of a new generation of Shakespeare translators with new translation habitus and different intellectual trajectories in the 1910s in Egypt helped redraw the boundaries of the field of drama translation and restructure its internal hierarchy. These translators created new positions in the field and generally subscribed to a mode of production that tended to free the translation product from the demands of the cultural market. Khalil Mutran's translations of four of Shakespeare's dramatic works reveal such new shifts in the field.

This thesis also deploys other Bourdieusian concepts to provide further sociological insight into such translation phenomena as the retranslation of Shakespeare's great tragedies in Egypt and the production of 'iconoclastic' translations. Bourdieu's concepts of 'distinction', the 'social ageing' of cultural products and the tension between 'heterodox' and 'orthodox' discourses on translation are deployed in reading retranslations of Shakespeare's tragedies in Egypt, including translations in Egyptian colloquial Arabic.

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by UCL Mellon Adminr

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