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Towards a Sociological Construction of the Translator's Brand: The Case of Howard Goldblatt

Zhang, Wenqian (2020) Towards a Sociological Construction of the Translator's Brand: The Case of Howard Goldblatt. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The present study aims to construct the concept of ‘the translator’s brand’ based on a case study of the American literary translator Howard Goldblatt. As a dynamic, accumulative and diachronic construction, the translator’s brand is different from existing notions in the scholarship of translation studies that are adopted to approach the translator’s presence, such as visibility, symbolic capital, translator-function and celebrity translators. The concept of ‘brand’ was originally examined from a marketing perspective to see how companies or products were able to stand out from their competitors. Later, it has been applied to people and places. However, as a human agent, the translator’s brand-building is not as strictly planned a process as that of the product, and cannot be approached from a marketing perspective alone. By combining the transferrable points from the ‘brand’ scholarship with the Bourdieusian sociology of cultural production and exchange, I argue that Goldblatt’s brand-building can be traced from three levels: intra-field (brand input), inter-field (brand investment) and inter-cultural (brand reception) levels. Based on a socio-archival investigation of materials mainly collected from the Chinese Literature Translation Archive, this thesis shows that at the intra-field level, the translator attained various forms of capital from his multiple identities and translation-related activities as brand input. This input was invested in the inter-field circuit and the translator got benefit from participation. At the inter-cultural level, Goldblatt’s brand has been differently received in the source and target cultures. What the ‘brand’ status means to Goldblatt is not immediate success or short-term profit in market logic, but rather a positive, distinctive and trustworthy image that has been perceived by other agents. This kind of brand image grants him a powerful status in the translation and publishing processes, which forms a stark contrast to the translator’s traditional invisible and inferior presence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: brand input, brand investment, brand reception, Howard Goldblatt, socio-archival investigation, the translator's brand
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Wenqian Zhang
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2020 17:24
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 17:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/27045

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