Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Translating the Eye: Derrida, the Image, and the Other
by Dávila, John, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2016, 141; 10244120
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is a two-part project comprised of a critical paper and a collection of original poetry, both of which revolve around the topic of translation. In the critical introduction, “Translating the Eye: Derrida, the Image, and the Other,” I examine Walter Benjamin and Derrida’s shared views on translation as presented in Derrida’s “Des Tours de Babel.” The provocative conclusion on which both thinkers agree (that translation mustn’t strive to communicate anything but some unexplainable, intangible, essential, extra-linguistic quality) serves, I explain, to liberate translation theory from thinking in terms of the original-translation binary and redefine the translation itself as a process of transformation.

I continue exploring the transformative process of translation by invoking Derrida’s concepts of the trace and psychobiographical signified to describe how the translator might simulate the foreign author/culture/Other so as to establish a distinction between the identity of the source and the translation. I suggest that the translator attempts to find a happy medium between his own personal experiences that color the way he “sees” the textual images he translates and the unknowable imagery of the original text. To develop this idea, I take a comparative look at the three different translators’ translations of Lorca’s poetry. The examples I provide show how slight variations from the original create distinct, translator-specific images/impressions of the source.

The creative portion of my dissertation is a full-length collection of poetry entitled “Poemas Sencillos.” In this section I translate my own, original Spanish language poems into English. The poems are relatively short and simplistic and include a variety of subjects ranging from preoccupation with language to brief sketch-like snapshots of landscapes. Translating my own work allowed me to appreciate why there is such a vast gulf between those who theorize and those who translate, try my hand at something far easier to critique than to do, and experience what it is like to be the Other and not-Other simultaneously.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stetco, Dayana
Commitee: Fox, Skip, Winters, Richard
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Creative writing
Keywords: Deconstruction, Poetry, Spanish, Theory, Translation
Publication Number: 10244120
ISBN: 978-0-355-11295-5
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