Translating from one medium to another : explorations in the referential power of translation
This thesis explores the identity of translation as its power of reference through an analysis of transformations of biblical narrative from their written form to audio-visual versions made for television. The central problematic of translatability between word and image is examined through the "translation strategies" used by producers and translators. These strategies reveal the philosophical binarisms that underpin an assumption of source and target texts as autonomous entities. The polarities of binary thinking are implicit in a perception of translation as a representation of a prior text The language of representation that is central to theories of representational equivalence raises the question to what does representation refer. This question forms the focus for a critique of the epistemology and ontology of representation and its artificial separation of language and vision, or word and image in our perceptual experience of the world. The criticism is essential to an exploration of the referential power of translation understood in semiotic and narrative terms as its ground of interpretation. This exploration describes the symbolic or semiotic value of translations, or the contexts in which they acquire contemporary coherence and significance. The central descriptive part of the thesis employs three conceptions of context: the context of texts themselves as narratively and semantically coherent units; their cultural contexts, or the irreducible intertexuality on which they depend for the recognition and interpretation of their significant features; and the social and economic conditions which underpin the work of production and provide the social contexts within such works circulate. In rejecting the notion that translations are an image, however impure, of an antecedent text, my thesis excludes a notion of conventional limits to translation based on structuralist conceptions of semantic or narrative form as the principal carriers of meaning. It concludes that the limits of translation are defined by its possibilities.