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The Creative Translator: An Ethnographic study of Creativity in the Practice of Translation

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This thesis will show that translation is a creative process. Creativity is seen as the bringing into being of novel and valued products, processes, practices or ideas that are valued in at least one social setting (Hennessey & Amabile 2010). With this definition as a basis the thesis uses the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1997, 2012b) as a framework to analyse and highlight how individual agents interact with the field and the domain of translation, to produce creative work. An ethnographic study of translators was used as the basis of data collection (LeCompte & Schensul 2013; Spradley 1979). As such this study is part of a growing body of knowledge surrounding creativity and the applications of the systems model (see McIntyre, Fulton & Paton 2016). This thesis argues that it is in the act of transferring meaning from the source language (SL) to the target language (TL) where opportunities for a translator to be creative, that is, to add valued novelty to the translation, occur. The evidence that translation is indeed a creative practice, may not only affect the ways in which translation is studied and how translations themselves are undertaken, but the role of the translator may be positioned away from being an ancillary one and allow translators to take on a more prominent and recognised role in the process of transferring meaning from one language into another.

Emily Rokobauer is a fledgling academic from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Communication (majoring in Media Studies) with distinction, and then again in 2018 with a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) Class I. She currently works as a sessional tutor with the School of Creative Industries, and is also a research assistant. Her research interests include creativity theories, translation theories, and Japanese language studies. She received her “Ah ha!” moment one day during a third year creativity class when she learnt about Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model, and has been on the path of research since. Coincidentally, she is currently teaching that very course.

This talk is part of the Arts and Creativities Research Group series.

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