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“How do I apply narrative theory?”

Socio-narrative theory in translation studies

Sue-Ann Harding

Translation and Interpreting Institute Hamad Bin Khalita University

Since the publication of Translation and Conlict: A Narrative Account (Baker 2006), there has been a growing interest in applying socio-narrative theory to Translation Studies, with Baker’s ideas extended and applied to several difer- ent areas of inquiry. his article gives a brief overview of these projects, and discusses in more depth the example of my own application and development of narrative theory. his includes a revised typology of narratives, the combination of narratological and sociological approaches, an intratextual model of analysis, and a new emphasis on the importance of narrators and temporary narrators in the (re)coniguration of narratives. he article ends with a brief discussion on further topics within Translation and Interpreting Studies to which narrative theory might be applied.

Keywords: socio-narrative theory, research methodology, textual analysis, narrator(s), news reporting, online media, Beslan, Russia, Russian/English

1.

Introduction

he use of narrative as a tool for academic investigation beyond the conines of iction and literature has steadily gained ground over the twentieth, and now into the twenty-irst, century. From the narrative form of the case study developed in medicine, psychology and psychoanalysis, to a shit towards narrative in ields such as history, anthropology, law, biology, physics, education, philosophy, theol- ogy, gender studies, and political science, and the use of narrative in the study of contemporary topics such as gaming, street art, and urban geography, scholars from a wide range of disciplines and inter-disciplines have critically and fruitfully engaged with narrative. 1 his article looks at ways in which scholars in Translation Studies have also begun to engage with the theory, and uses my own work as an extended example

Target 24:2 (2012), 286–309. doi 10.1075/target.24.2.04har issn 0924–1884 / e-issn 1569–9986 © John Benjamins Publishing Company

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of its application and development. hese include a revised typology of narratives, the combination of sociological and narrative approaches, the elaboration of an intra-textual model of analysis and a new emphasis on the importance of nar- rators and temporary narrators in the coniguration of narratives. I have found socio-narrative theory to be a robust, intuitively satisfying conceptual framework, useful for describing and accounting for the complex, dynamic, constructed, re- constructed, and translated worlds in which we live and act, including our own place(s) in it as researchers. his article is intended as something of a “map” for other Translation and Interpreting Studies scholars interested in narrative theory and its application to new areas of research. It ofers a sketch of recent research, a more detailed discussion of a particular case and a conclusion that briely consid- ers other areas to which the theory might be applied.

2. Narrative theory and translation studies

In his account of descriptive and systemic approaches to the study of translation, heo Hermans (1999) draws on the notion of the “invisible college” (Crane 1972) to describe “the growth and difusion” of these approaches through the personal interaction and intellectual exchange of (originally a small group of) like-minded, interest-sharing scholars. he process he describes occurred, in this case, over sev- eral decades and so is not immediately analogous to the very recent introduction of narrative theory to translation studies. Nevertheless, Hermans’ (and Crane’s) emphasis on both social and cognitive contexts, “on material as well as intellec- tual circumstances” (Hermans 1999, 15), is relevant here. he communication, exchange and development of ideas involves “practitioners working in an insti- tutional environment, regular personal contacts and a sense of solidarity, and a material as well as an intellectual infrastructure” (Hermans 1999, 10), all of which could, over the last few years, be found among “narrative theory scholars”. Baker (2006) initiated the application of narrative in translation and inter- preting studies. 2 Baker draws on and — with her focus on translation — aims to supplement, a strand of narrative emerging primarily from psychology and social and communication theory, the crucial idea of which is that narratives do not merely represent, but constitute, the world. Narratives are the stories we elaborate in order to make meaning of our lives and to both guide and justify our actions. hey are not limited to a particular genre or to single texts but “cut across time and texts” (Baker 2006, 12) and are conigured from the elements around us. Baker’s monograph is structured around a typology of four kinds of narratives (discussed in 2.1 below), eight features of narrative, 3 the notion of framing as “an active strat- egy that implies agency” (Baker 2006, 106), and, drawing extensively on the notion

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of Fisher’s “narrative paradigm” (1984, 1985, 1987, 1997), ways in which we assess,

and ultimately subscribe to, diferent narratives. As the title of her book indicates, Baker is chiely concerned with the roles of narratives, translation and interpret- ing in situations of violent political conlict, and the way narratives and translated narratives are used by various powers “to legitimize their version of events” (Baker 2006, 1). hese initial interests continue to be relected in her work (see 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010a, 2010b). Harding (2009, 2012) is a direct response to Baker’s work and an attempt to further develop her application of socio-narrative theory to Translation Studies. While Baker uses a broad-spectrum approach to exemplify narrative theory and its relevance to issues of translation, my study ofers a sustained textual analysis and detailed case study that functions as a testing ground for both the applica- bility of narrative theory to, and the investigation of, a sample of online media reportage. Other scholars who have sought to apply Baker’s approach explore a variety of data, including Italian diaspora iction, Arabic children’s literature, (re) narrations of Edward Said and Palestinian women in Arabic, and networks of po- litically motivated, activist interpreters. hus, Baldo’s (2008) study, Translation as Re-Narration in Canadian-Italian Writing, investigates a trilogy of novels by the internationally-acclaimed Italian-Canadian author Nino Ricci that traces the lives of an Italian family before and ater they migrate to Canada in 1961. Drawing on poststructuralist narratological understandings of plot, focalisation and voice, Baldo explores the novelist’s use of codeswitching (between English and Standard Italian or dialect) and the ways in which codeswitching passages are negotiated in the Italian translation of the novels. Also a literary study, Ayoub’s research (2010) examines the set of stories rewritten, adapted, and translated for children by the renowned Egyptian author Kamil Al-Kilani (1897–1959). Rather than on the texts themselves, Ayoub’s primary focus is on the ways in which framing is efected at

sites around text, and she investigates introductions, titles, cover blurbs, footnotes, and additional glossaries, poems, testimonials and questions. Al-Herthani (2009) also focuses on paratextual material, drawing particularly on Genette (1991, 1997), and the notions of framing and counter-framing. His topic is the legacy of Palestinian-American cultural theorist Edward Said, 4 the translations of his work into Arabic, and the re-narrations of Said’s works by vari- ous types of Arab institutions and mediators, such as the academy, media, publish- ing houses, intellectuals, writers and translators. Al Sharif (2009) also turns her attention to translated Arabic and its impacts on regional cultures and politics. She examines the translation programme of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a highly inluential web-based advocacy group. 5 Al Sharif carries out

a detailed analysis of MEMRI’s online reports and investigates ways in which

the site actively uses translation to select, deselect and frame material in order to

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systematically elaborate and widely circulate negative, dehumanising, and reduc- tionist narratives of Palestinians and Palestinian women. Finally, Boéri (2009) adopts a socio-narrative approach to investigate the workings of Babels, “the international network of volunteers recognised as one of the most politicised communities of translators and interpreters” (2009, 6), partic- ularly with regard to the Alter-Globalization Movement and members’ active, yet complex, pursuit and negotiation of an alternative society marked by a commit- ment to organizational principles such as (linguistic) diversity, inclusive participa- tion and horizontality. Boéri’s work examines online data posted by members on Babels’ online forums to trace the evolving narrative positions of the organisation in terms of its scope of involvement, inancial structure, and decision-making pro- cesses. She also examines online data published by AIIC (Association internatio- nale des interprètes de conférence) to explore the external re-narration of Babels by members of the professional conference interpreting community (see also Boéri 2008 and 2010). While these projects might be thought of as “irst generation” responses to Baker’s work, narrative continues to interest both new and established research- ers. For example, Abou-Bakr (in progress) is a contrastive study of the translations and paratextual features of published collections of Palestinian folktales, examin- ing ways in which these frame the stories with regard to Palestinian identity and nation building. Summers (in progress) uses theories of social narrative to analyse translations of the writings of East German writer, Christa Wolf, examining the extent to which the author and her texts have been appropriated into diferent social narratives of intellectual dissidence or complicity within the Socialist re- gime in the GDR. Pasmatzi (in progress) looks at how conlicts between histori- cal and political narratives manifest themselves in the Greek translations of sev- eral high-proile Anglophone historical novels concerning the Greek Civil War (1946–1949). Youssef (in progress) aims to problematize the idea of “European inluence” on 1920s Arabic discourses by investigating processes of translation in the Cairene press of the time. Helin (2006) examines representations of the Islamic world in Finnish translations of National Geographic. Elliott (2008) explores “the intersection of translation and narrative discourse in relation to Bible translation, and particularly with regard to literary characters”. Jones (2009) examines interna- tional conlict resolution and mediation, Aaltonen (2009) looks at Finnish theatre translation, McDonough Dolmaya (2010) works on the localization of global and Canadian top brand websites in Canada, and Al-Ghamedi (2012) writes on the paratextual framing of two novels by Saudi writer Turk al-Hamad.

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3. Applying narrative theory

My own work (Harding 2009, 2012) turns to the hostage-taking of School No.1

in Beslan, Southern Russia. On Wednesday 1 September 2004, an armed group

seized and held captive over a thousand people, including many children. By the time the siege came to its bloody and chaotic end three days later, more than three hundred people had been killed and hundreds more wounded. he atrocity at-

tracted signiicant international attention, and even as the details of the attack re- main contested and unclariied (Dunlop 2006, 2009, Phillips 2007), it is now seen

as a vital turning point in Russia’s approach to terrorism and in the operations of

the Putin presidency (Hutchings and Rulyova 2009). I have undertaken a detailed, sustained textual analysis examining online reporting published by three very diferent Russian-language news websites: 1) RIA-Novosti (www.rian.ru, 3 March 2011), a large, state-controlled agency with close ties to the Russian government; 2) Kavkazcenter (www.kavkazcenter.com, 3 March 2011), the major site of the Chechen armed resistance, and 3) Caucasian Knot (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, 3 March 2011), a regional specialist site founded by Memorial, Russia’s internationally-renowned human rights organisation, all of which covered the events in Beslan as they were unfolding during the course of the three day siege and its immediate atermath. he examination of both Russian and

English texts also raises issues of translation, particularly in regard to online and fringe media, and ways in which translation and omission afect the construction and reconstruction of narratives. It also extrapolates from the case study of Beslan

to relect upon the potential for certain kinds of narrative to either perpetuate or

dissolve situations of violent political conlict. Narrative theory is adopted not only as an analytical tool with which to ap- proach the data, but in order to investigate and develop the theory itself. hus, while the study takes Baker (2006) and her major sources (particularly Somers and Gibson 1994 and Bruner 1991) as its starting point, it departs from these by pro- posing and exploring a revised typology of narratives, the combination of narra-

tological and sociological approaches, an intratextual model of analysis, and new emphasis on the importance of narrators in the coniguration and reconiguration

of

narratives. All of these are discussed in this article.

3.1

A typology of narratives

A cardinal assumption of a narrative approach to data is that the narrative is the

unit of analysis. Somers and Gibson (1994) distinguish between four diferent di- mensions or kinds (Somers 1997) of narrative: ontological, public, conceptual, and meta-narrative. Ontological narratives, “the stories that social actors use to make

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sense of — indeed, in order to act in — their lives” (Somers and Gibson 1994, 61) are what Baker calls “personal narratives”, deined as “personal stories that we tell ourselves about our place in the world and our own personal history” (2006, 28). Public narratives are “those narratives attached to cultural and institutional formations larger than the individual” (Somers and Gibson 1994, 62), such as the family, the workplace, religious and educational institutions, media, government, and nation, examples to which Baker (2006, 33–38) adds literature and a society’s literary system, advertising, cinema and political activism; Boéri further includes professional narratives, “stories and explanations that professionals elaborate for themselves and others about the nature and ethos of their activity” (2008, 26). he third type of narrative in the model is conceptual narrativity, expanded by Somers into conceptual/analytic/sociological narrativity and deined as “the con- cepts and explanations that we construct as social researchers” (Somers 1997, 85). Baker extends the category to include “disciplinary narratives in any ield of study” (2006, 39) and broadens the deinition to “the stories and explanations that schol- ars in any ield elaborate for themselves and others about their object of inquiry” (ibid.). Finally, meta-narratives are “the master narratives in which we are em- bedded as contemporary actors in history”, described as “the epic dramas of our time” and “progressive narratives of teleological unfolding” such as Capitalism vs.

Narratives Shared/ Personal collective Local Particular Societal Theoretical General Meta
Narratives
Shared/
Personal
collective
Local
Particular
Societal
Theoretical
General
Meta

Figure 1. A revised typology of narratives

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Communism, Barbarism vs. Civilisation, or Marxism and the Triumph of Class Struggle (Somers 1997, 86). Baker cites Bourdieu’s “myth” of globalization and the narrative of economic rationality, the Cold War, the “War on Terror”, and the Holocaust as further examples (2006, 44–46). Rather than diferentiating between these four types of narrative in a lat mod- el, I revised the model into one that begins with a typology of two: (a) personal narratives and (b) shared or collective narratives, which encompass the remaining three types from the original model (now called societal, theoretical, and meta- narratives), to which I added the category of “local” narratives (see Figure 1). his dual typology stems from the assumption, perhaps overlooked in the original model, that there is a diference between personal and other types of nar- ratives. Personal narratives are those that individuals construct about the self (and use to construct the self), and in doing so, assume a certain amount of individual responsibility and accountability for them. In contrast, shared or collective nar- ratives include “the stories that are told and retold by numerous members of a society over a long period of time” (Baker 2006, 29). hey are “the narratives that underpin the social order” (ibid.), that circulate in an individual’s environment, that make up “the narrative frameworks of the …community” (2006, 31). hus, these are narratives that are constructed collectively about the collective (and which also, ultimately, construct the collective group) through processes of col- laboration, consensus and coercion. It is acknowledged that personal narratives can never be constructed in isola- tion from the collective narratives in which individuals are embedded (Somers and Gibson 1994, Whitebrook 2001, Baker 2006), and also that collective nar- ratives rely on “compatible personal narratives” in order to “gain currency and acceptance” (Baker 2006, 30). Yet ultimately, there remains a distinction between narratives that are authored (where authorship is understood to mean a sense of ownership and autonomy) by individuals, and which may, or may not, be commu- nicated to various degrees, (see Riessman 1993), and narratives that are authored collaboratively and consensually. A dual typology highlights both this distinction and the interplay between them. In the case of my study, this dual typology was particularly useful in focus- ing attention on the eyewitness accounts included in the reportage on Beslan. It enabled me to see personal narratives of eyewitnesses and hostage survivors as crucial, contributing components to the collective narratives being constructed about Beslan when the town had suddenly become such a crowded, confused and dangerous place. hus, it was especially revealing to discover, through the textual analysis, how eyewitness accounts were marginalised, manipulated, selectively ap- propriated into, or simply deselected from, each primary narrative text.

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Other revisions to the original model include the addition of a separate cat- egory, “local” narratives, which may, in a sense, be thought of as the basis or “raw material” of all the other subsequent categories. hese are narratives relating par- ticular events (and the particular actions of particular actors) in particular places at particular times. hey may also be thought of as “bounded” or “limited” in the same way in which “local” is used in medicine to describe something that is con- ined to a limited area or part. hese are the narratives of everyday conversations, the replies to “what did you do today?” and “what happened?” hey may be barely articulated, or they may be communicated, circulated, published, the stuf of ar- guments, disputes, newspaper stories, police reports, court transcripts, oral his- tories, journals, letters, emails, blog posts, tweets, and so on. he hostage-taking in Beslan’s School No.1 in September 2004 is considered to be a local narrative because it concerns speciic times, places, people and events. As with the distinctive category of personal narratives discussed above, the addition of this category seemed necessary in order to be able to distinguish be- tween “smaller narratives” (characterised by concrete, speciic and particular ele- ments) and “larger narratives” (characterised by ever-more abstract elements) in a way that is not immediately apparent in the original model. he idea that local narratives are, like personal narratives, crucial contributing components to these larger narratives enabled me to focus my attention on details and speciics in the data that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Indeed, the notion of “awkward” details that seemed to jar against narrative coherence became a key part of my con- clusion that relected on ideas of resistance against the reductionist, homogenising narratives that circulate so readily in societies. My revised typology also suggests alternative names for two of the original categories, further clarifying the original model. “Societal” is used rather than “public”, in order to emphasise the circulation and operation of these narratives in the various units and institutions of society, “however local or grand, micro or macro” (Somers and Gibson 1994, 62). he term also avoids possible confusion arising from the term “public” narratives because not all of these societal narra- tives will necessarily be public, that is, in the public domain. It is oten the case that social institutions, private companies, religious organisations and government agencies will have, alongside their public narratives, narratives which they prefer to keep out of the public domain. “Leaked” information that inds its way into the Wikileak archives and onto the front pages of newspapers could be said to be one or more societal narratives that were never, or not yet, intended to be public. “Public narratives” then, can be used to indicate (any) narratives that circulates in the public sphere. “heoretical” rather than “conceptual/disciplinary” narratives are reconceptualized to include any narratives of theory. his moves the category beyond the privileged conines of academia (see Baker 2006, 174 n11) and focuses

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on the act of theorising that these narratives involve, particularly with regard to their use of abstract terms to account for concrete events and situations (Harding 2009, 2012). he signiicance of the use of abstract terms in the construction of certain types of narratives is highlighted in a further revision to the original typology:

the placing of the four diferent categories of shared or collective narratives on

a continuum stretching from “particular” to “general”, as indicated by the dark,

vertical arrow in Figure 1. While such a visual representation can, of course, only give a very approximate indication of the concepts which inspired it, the diagram

is intended to draw attention to both the interconnectedness of the separate cat-

egories and their porous, indistinct boundaries as well as the clear diferences be- tween the types of narrative at either end of the continuum, namely local and meta-narratives. heoretical and meta-narratives are characterized by the abstract quality of their elements. Indeed, theoretical narratives might be thought of as the point on this continuum at which the relationships between particular and general nar- ratives become problematic as theory and analysis struggle to remain grounded in the speciic narratives that inform them even as they try to generalize and ac- count for more than any speciic set of circumstances at any given time. Somers and Gibson (1994) grapple with this, and Alasdair MacIntyre also relects on the hazardous relationship between particularity and generality:

[I]t is in moving forward from such particularity that the search for the good, the universal, consists. Yet particularity can never be simply let behind or obliterated. he notion of escaping from it into a realm of entirely universal maxims which belong to man as such…is an illusion and an illusion with painful consequences. When men and women identify what are in fact their partial and particular causes too easily and too completely with the cause of some universal principle, they usu- ally behave worse than they would otherwise do. (1981, 221)

Particular narratives are routinely embedded into generic stories (Bruner 1991) — considered generic insofar as they are recognisable by general rather than spe- ciic elements, and also known in the literature as master plots, archetypes (Abbott 2008), skeletal stories or canonical stories (Baker 2006). 6 Embedding a particular narrative into a generic story is a means of making sense of that narrative and ill- ing in any missing details (Bruner 1991, Bennett and Edelman 1985). It can also be an “active process of signiication” (Baker 2006, 106), used to shape interpretations (re-narrations) of a particular narrative, its speciic events and actors. 7 he ways in which personal and local narratives are embedded into larger, general, meta- narratives or, from a diferent perspective, the appropriation or framing of local narratives into meta-narratives forms a core part of my work. 8

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heorising narrative types in this way enables a much more explicit discussion

of ways in which narratives interact with and contest each other. Again, as with

the new focus on personal and local narratives, being able to deine more clearly (and thus identify) these abstract narratives in my data allowed me to see patterns across the three Russian narratives (all use diferent abstract narratives to frame the Beslan hostage-taking) and in the process of translation (abstract, reductionist narratives are reinforced in translation while “smaller” particular narratives are marginalised or simply eliminated).

3.2 ‘Socio-narrative’: Combining narratological and sociological approaches to narrative

A second way in which I have developed narrative theory is through the deliber-

ate combination of narratological and sociological approaches, (hence my term “socio-narrative”) even though Baker clearly distances herself from narratology (2006, 3–4). Al-Hertani (2009) and Baldo (2008) also do this although with dif- ferent emphases. Al-Herthani (2009) draws on the central notions of paratextual and peretextual features developed in the work of French narratologist, Gérard Genette. Baldo describes a trajectory from classical narratology, “popularised by such structuralist critics as Genette, Prince, Rimmon-Kenan, Bal, [and] Toolan” (2008, 39), through the idea of textuality, (“the interplay of the meaning of the

author with the meaning of the reader” (2008, 42)), to post-structuralist narratol- ogy with its emphases on “the importance of historicity and context in narrative construction, and the links between literature and lived experience” (2008, 46) and inally to sociological approaches to narrative. My work draws largely on that of Mieke Bal, whose Narratology: An Introduction to the heory of Narrative (1985/1997), now in a third, revised edition (2009) proved useful because of its clarity, systematicity, and thoroughness. It is this structuralist approach to the assemblage of a precise vocabulary and clearly deined concepts (see also Fludernik 2009, Herman et al 2007) that I see as one of the most compelling reasons to combine narratology with sociological approaches to narrative. While sociological approaches to narrative expand the deinition, nature, and consequence of the object(s) of our investigation — from discrete,

if broadly deined, “texts” to “difuse, amorphous conigurations…that cut across

time and texts” (Baker 2006, 4), narratology can provide a rigorous, explicit lexi- con and a rich conceptual toolkit with which to pursue and communicate such investigations. My use of Bal’s work is, of course, selective, and largely determined by the nature of my data. Text, fabula, and story — three diferent ways of looking at the same thing, of diferentiating between form, content, and construction — provide

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an entry point. hus, the reportage selected as data for the study is considered to be a collection of six (three Russian and three English) primary narrative texts, each “a inite, structured whole composed of language signs…in which an agent relates (‘tells’) a story in a particular medium” (Bal 1985/1997, 5). he agent is the narra- tor and, here, is understood to be the news agency that relates each story through the narrative texts posted on its website within the time frame of the study. Bal calls the narrator’s text “primary” to indicate the hierarchical connections between the narrative text as a whole “into which…other texts are embedded” (2009, 52), and it was the analysis and division of each primary text that led to the intratextual model used to structure the analysis of the data. he fabula is deined as “a series of logically and chronologically related events that are caused or experienced by actors” (Bal 2009, 5), and it is made up of ele- ments: events, actors, time and location. Each of the six narrative texts relates the hostage-taking in Beslan, yet each one difers in its inclusion and omission, or “selective appropriation” (Somers and Gibson 1994, 60, Baker 2006, 71–77 and 114–122) of all possible elements. he Story is deined as “the fabula…presented in a certain manner” (Bal 2009, 5); the six narrative texts share common elements, yet difer in “the way in which these events are presented” (Bal 1985/1997, 6 em- phasis in the original), resulting in very diferent stories. Elements can be attrib- uted varying degrees of signiicance, 9 ampliied through temporal and/or spatial positioning, the inclusion of greater detail, allotted a greater proportion of the whole narrative through repetition and reiteration, or interpreted “as crises of a particular magnitude or as turning points in the context of the overall narrative” (Baker 2006, 68). he way elements are temporally and spatially related to each other is a regular means of making a story from the fabula. In any given narrative text, the chrono- logical sequence of a fabula, which can normally be deduced from the laws and norms of everyday logic — Bal’s example is that “one cannot arrive in a place before one has set out to go there” (2009, 79) — can, and oten does, difer from the se- quential ordering of events in a story. Bal calls these diferences chronological de- viations, or anachronies (also used by Genette 1972/1980, 35–47), and argues that,

[p]laying with sequential ordering is not just a literary convention; it is also a means of drawing attention to certain things, to emphasize, to bring about aes- thetic or psychological efects, to show various interpretations of an event, to in- dicate the subtle diference between expectation and realization, and much else besides. (1985/1997, 82)

he same is true in a news narrative, where the chronological sequence of the fabula may be thought of as the real events occurring in real time, which the news reporter relates. he sequential ordering of the reporter’s story is likely to trace the

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chronological sequence of those real time events, particularly when a story is “live” or when attempting to report events as they are happening, but it is also likely to be frequently interrupted in order to relate events that happened prior to those events. Bal calls such an interruption “retroversion” (2009, 83). 10 External retro- version occurs when the anachronic events related originally took place prior to the time span of the primary narrative, and internal retroversion occurs when the anachronic events related took place within the time span of the primary narra- tive. 11 Retroversions are a means of selectively appropriating elements from other narratives into the primary narrative text, and how far back in time the retrover- sion reaches can be highly signiicant. An external retroversion that has a long “distance” (Bal 2009, 88) or “reach” (Genette 1972/1980, 48), such as the recol- lection of hostilities between nations or ethnic groups that occurred hundreds of years ago, will place those hostilities and the current news story into a single nar- rative arc. All three Russian language primary narrative texts in my study included sev- eral diferent retroversions of varying time spans, all of which contributed to the construction of very diferent narratives. RIA-Novosti, for example, includes ive external retroversions with a reach of between twelve hours and ninety-nine years. hese are narratives of previous hostage-takings and acts of political violence in Russia, including a potted history of war in Chechnya and references to the hus- band of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna (1864–1918) — venerated in a re- ligious ceremony taking place in Krasnoiarsk, Siberia, at the time of the siege in Beslan– who was “killed by terrorists” 12 in 1905. hus, RIA-Novosti frames the events in Beslan as yet another terrorist attack on the Russian Federation. Russia knows about terrorism, suggests the narrator through these connections; we are not new to the experience, in fact, we were the irst. 13 In RIA-Novosti ’s English narrative, there are iteen external retroversions (with a shorter reach of between six months and twelve years); the story of the Grand Duke’s assassination is omitted and replaced by an additional ten referenc- es to “Terrorist Attacks in Moscow in 1999–2004”. While the emphasis on Moscow underscores the oicial Russian narrative expounded by President Putin in his televised address to the nation (also included in RIA-Novosti ’s English narrative) that the attack in Beslan was “a challenge against Russia and our nation as a whole”, attacks in the capital could also be perceived negatively by a domestic audience who might panic and conclude that their government is unable to protect them, but serve to reinforce for foreign readers the characterisation of Russia as a coun- try “on the front line of the war on terror” and, hence, legitimize and justify its “counter-terrorist operations in Chechnya”. In contrast to both of these, Caucasian Knot uses four external retroversions — narratives of previous hostage-takings not only in Russia but also the seizure

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of the Japanese embassy in Peru in December 1996 — to connect negotiations between oicials and hostage-takers to the lives saved. By opening up narratives of terrorism to include others, Caucasian Knot not only undermines the oicial nar- ratives of Russia as a special victim of terrorism but also shits the emphasis of the narrative from victimhood to possible life-saving responses. In news reporting, there will always be internal retroversions of a sort, with temporal “gaps” in the narrative “illed in” as new information comes to light. RIA- Novosti ’s irst detailed descriptions of the attack on School No.1, for example, are reported over two hours ater the story was irst reported and about three and a half hours ater the attack occurred. his is because these anachronic accounts come from iteen people who hid in the boiler room during the attack and only later managed to escape. Media outlets will generally try to minimize the reach of these internal retroversions as much as possible and be instead “the irst to break the news”. Arguably, the shorter the reach of the internal retroversion, the more signiicant the narrator considers the event or element. Repetitions, that is, when the sequential ordering of the events in a story is momentarily interrupted from tracing the chronological course of the fabula in order to re-narrate a prior event, are also an indication of the degree of signiicance placed on elements by the nar- rator, with those considered to be more signiicant more likely to be repeated more oten. When both the reach of an internal retroversion is very short and the ele- ment is repeated, then it can be argued that the narrator considers such elements to be highly signiicant. hus, the manner in which RIA-Novosti reports President Putin’s televised speech on the evening of 4 September, with updates every few minutes and sections of the speech repeated as well as the speech in its entirety posted twice, indicates that RIA-Novosti considers the speech and its contents to be highly signiicant. An abridged translation — references to Russia’s history and the fall of the Soviet Union are omitted — of the president’s speech is posted with- in ninety minutes of the original publication of the full text, and a full retranslation is posted on Sunday, 5 September. In stark contrast, Kavkazcenter gives the speech short shrit, summarizing it in a highly critical single post, while Caucasian Knot summarizes it with a selection of quotations reproduced without comment. Both sites omit the speech from their English narratives. If the reach of an internal retroversion is relatively longer and cannot be ac- counted for by the lack of available information, then this is likely to indicate that the narrator does not deem the event to be of great signiicance. he apparent poi- soning of Novaya Gazeta journalist, Anna Politkovskaia, who was on her way to Beslan by plane, occurred on the evening of Wednesday, 1 September, but was not reported by RIA-Novosti until 18:56 on Friday 3 September, and even then only indirectly through the disclaimer of the Karat aviation company. Similarly, the arrest of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Andrei Babitskii in Moscow’s

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Vnukovo airport took place on the morning of hursday, 2 September, but was not reported by RIA-Novosti until 17:45 on Friday, 3 September. His court appearance on Friday was only reported on Saturday aternoon. 14 Other ways in which the story difers from the fabula can be seen in the difer- ences between an actor (an element) and a character (or similarly, the diferences between a place and a space), that is, the efect that is created when the narrator provides an actor (or a place) with distinctive characteristics (Bal 2009). 15 Leonid Roshal, one of three people with whom the hostage-takers demand to meet, is an actor common to all three Russian primary narrative texts. On 1 September, Caucasian Knot describes him as the well-known paediatrician, “who in 2002 went to the hostages in the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow”, and reports his arrival at operation headquarters at Beslan later that day. RIA-Novosti describes Dr Roshal as “the well-known paediatrician” who,

in October 2002 took part in the release of the hostages seized by boeviki in the building of the Dubrovka theatre centre. he doctor conducted negotiations with the terrorists about the release of children, and about the relaying of food, water and medicines to the hostages. 16

RIA-Novosti follows his movements throughout the day, beginning with an inter- view in Moscow as he declares his readiness to ly to Beslan, his light to Beslan, and his arrival and presence in the operation headquarters. he interview and his arrival are also included in the RIA-Novosti English narrative (he is missing altogether from the Kavkazcenter and Caucasian Knot English narratives), where Roshal’s role in the Dubrovka theatre hostage crisis is described in glowing terms, using language that almost depicts “[t]he selless physician” as a compassionate, even Christ-like igure. Compare this excerpt from the English narrative with the back translation above. Notable diferences in the text are underlined.

Leonid Roshal appeared in the tragic limelight when he volunteered to negotiate in the Dubrovka heatre plight in Moscow as terrorists took a full house hostage during a sensational musical in autumn 2002. At the risk of his own life, he was attending to the sick and interceded for the captives. 17

Again in contrast, Kavkazcenter simply describes Roshal as “a participant in the negotiations at Nord-Ost”. Rather than tracking his movements throughout the day, at 20:06, just a few minutes before RIA-Novosti reports his arrival in Beslan, Kavkazcenter reports Valerii Andreev, head of the FSB [Federal Security Services] in North Ossetia, as saying that “at present, measures are being taken to search for Doctor Leonid Roshal in order to bring him to Beslan and continue the negotiat- ing process”, to which Kavkazcenter adds that “it is not quite clear why the FSB is stating that it is looking for Doctor Roshal when it is well known that Roshal

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works for (sostoit v shtate) the FSB”. hus, one actor, Leonid Roshal, is character- ised in three diferent ways: as doctor, hero, and secret police, and in translation he is either enhanced or eliminated. Text, fabula, story, narrator, elements, anachronies, retroversions, actors, char- acters, place and space are all examples of narratological concepts that enable clear and insightful investigation, analysis and discussion of narratives, be they textually bound or constructed across a variety of verbal and non-verbal texts. here are, of course, others. Baldo (2008) explores focalization, for example, Hermans has ex- plored notions of voice (1996) and irony (2007), and metaphor has also attracted attention from Translation Studies scholar (see St André 2010). A continued ex- ploration of the ield would yield further useful terms and concepts.

3.3 An intra-textual model for the analysis of text

Engaging with these terms from narratology led directly to the construction of what I call an intra-textual model of analysis that separates out the types of texts embedded within each primary narrative text. he model diferentiates between narrative and non-narrative material, and then further diferentiates the narrative material according to time and place (see Figure 2). his model, which I believe could be used for other sets of comparable data, was extremely useful for compar- ing and contrasting my material in both Russian and English taken from the three

Primary narrative text Non–narrative texts Narrative texts Anachronic (external Synchronal retroversions)
Primary narrative
text
Non–narrative texts
Narrative texts
Anachronic
(external
Synchronal
retroversions)
Located beyond
Beslan school no.1
Located in or near
Beslan school no.1
(core narrative)

Figure 2. An intratextual model for analysis

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diferent websites and, ultimately, I used it as the entire structural basis for my analysis. In the same way that single, integral narrative texts can include non-narrative comments such as description or argument, each primary narrative text includes non-narrative material such as oicial statements and condemnations, letters of appeal, commentaries and opinion pieces. 18 Bal argues that identifying such passages “oten helps to assess the ideological or aesthetic thrust of a narrative” (2009, 9) because it is oten in the non-narrative comments “that ideological state- ments are made” (2009, 31). his is not to say, Bal acknowledges,

that the rest of the narrative is “innocent” of ideology, on the contrary. he reason for examining these alternations is precisely to measure the diference between the text’s overt ideology, as stated in such comments, and its more hidden or natu- ralized ideology, as embodied in the narrative representations. (ibid.)

his is true of the primary narrative texts in my study, where non-narrative com- ments are oten quite explicit expressions of various opinions and allegations, which are embodied, to difering degrees, in the remaining narrative material. his narrative material can then be categorised as either synchronal (occurring within the same time frame as the primary narrative text) or anachronic (occur- ring outside of the time frame of the primary narrative text). While all three news agencies consistently reported events in Beslan as they were unfolding, they also included narrative texts relating events that happened before the attack on Beslan, as discussed above. Finally, all the synchronal narrative material within each primary narrative text is further categorised according to spatial position, that is, narratives that relate events occurring beyond Beslan’s School No. 1, and narratives that relate events occurring near or in Beslan’s School No.1. he school in Beslan quickly becomes the site of events that constitute what might be thought of as the core nar- rative, for without it, without those events, there would be no other material and no narrative texts. Although access to this site is severely restricted, its boundaries are porous; hostages escape, are released, are sent to the boundary with messages to be delivered across the line, telephone connections are made, Ruslan Aushev (former president of Ingushetia) walks in and out again. Towards the end of the siege this boundary seems to collapse, with Russian special forces moving into the school, hostages leeing into nearby apartment blocks or sped of in cars to vari- ous hospitals, and hostage-takers escaping into nearby buildings and across the railway lines into other parts of the town. One of the most surprising results of the study was that, despite all this movement and all the uncertainty about what was happening and why, only a very small proportion of text (in all six narratives) is devoted to relating this core narrative.

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3.4 Narrators and temporary narrators

A further insight gained from drawing on narratology was the study’s focus on

narrators — little discussed in the literature on social narrativity 19 — and tem- porary narrators, that is, actors to whom the function of narrating is temporarily transferred, as in the case of direct speech (Bal 2009) or, in this case, in the inclu-

sion of texts penned by commentators and/or lited from other media. All three narrators (news agencies) enlist several diferent temporary narrators — govern- ment oicials, other media, experts, commentators, translators, correspondents, and eyewitnesses 20 — to contribute to the construction of their primary narra- tive texts, and the distinct narratives constructed can partly be accounted for by identifying to whom each narrator temporarily passes the function of narrating and the manner in which this is done. Findings of particular interest included the overwhelming dominance of oicial temporary narrators in RIA-Novosti ’s Russian and English narratives, the framing efect of enlisting certain “experts”, the dimin- ishing of rhetorical power through awkward translations, and the manipulation of (particular) eyewitness narratives to conform to larger, politically expedient nar-

ratives, usually through the use of indirect speech, the late temporal positioning of eyewitness narratives within the primary narrative texts and selective “cutting and pasting” from other online media. It was also interesting to ind that, of the three websites, Caucasian Knot in- cluded the greatest number of eyewitnesses functioning as temporary narrators, more of whom are named and quoted directly and, in a marked departure from the other two sites, are included already on the irst day of the siege. Caucasian Knot also includes a wider selection of oicial narrators, including, signiicantly, high ranking oicials from the Chechen-Ichkerian government (in exile), regard- ed as terrorists by the Russian government and so, of course, absent from RIA- Novosti ’s narrative. President Aslan Maskhadov makes a statement elaborating a narrative of legitimate struggle that rejects illegitimate means, and Presidential Representative Akhmed Zakaev reiterates Maskhadov’s willingness to travel to Beslan at great personal risk — he was a wanted man and in hiding at the time —

to negotiate with the hostage-takers, an ofer repeated by Ilias Akhmadov, Foreign

Afairs minister, who speaks insightfully at length about the efects of years of war on Chechnya’s people, the foolishness of the hostage-takers, and strategies

for peaceful, political negotiations between Russia and Chechnya. Together with the personal narratives of eyewitnesses, these temporary narrators contribute to a primary narrative text that is a distinct, more nuanced, more complex, alternative

to oicial narratives. What is also interesting is that none of these are included in

Caucasian Knot ’s English primary narrative text.

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hus, applying socio-narrative theory to data of this kind brings to the fore questions such as who may narrate and who may not? How do narrators control or re-narrate their temporary narrators? Which potential narrators may choose not to narrate on speciic occasions, and what are the implications of this silence? If resources are limited, as is most likely the case with independent sites such as Kavkazcenter and Caucasian Knot, how can translation most efectively give in- ternational voice to those customarily marginalized by more powerful narrators? Because of the sociological assumptions of socio-narrative theory, such questions are essentially about authority and power and concern issues of conlict, domi- nance, resistance, coercion and subversion and the power and abilities of individu- als and societal groups to elaborate and circulate their narratives.

4. Conclusions and further possibilities

As mentioned above, socio-narrative theory has been used in translation and in- terpreting studies to analyse and account for both micro and macro translational choices and strategies with regard to literature, cultural theory, political propagan- da, personal and political negotiations in the development of alter-globalisation activist networks, news media, international publishing practices, Bible transla- tion, theatre translation, conlict mediation and website localization. My own re- search interests include the wealth of documentation related to Beslan that has been collected by grass-roots organisations of people who lost loved ones in the siege, including the transcripts of the trial of Nurpashi Kulaev, the only hostage- taker at Beslan to be apprehended. Socio-narrative analyses of these materials seem a fruitful means of exploring notions of security, terrorism, counter-terror- ism, ethnic conlict and human rights as narrated by and enacted in the Russian government and judicial system. he intra-textual model of analysis suggested here proved a very useful means of comparing and contrasting primary narrative texts (Russian and English/trans- lated) and quickly revealed several areas of interest for investigation, such as the surprisingly small proportion of RIA-Novosti ’s texts devoted to the ‘core narrative’ and the large amount of non-narrative comment. his model, or adaptations of it, could readily be applied to other comparable sets of data; international news and news translations will always provide rich data for investigating ways in which vio- lent political conlicts are narrated by, and to, key players. he Israeli military cam- paign codenamed Operation Cast Lead launched against Gaza in December 2008, for example, was extensively reported in many languages throughout the world, yet of the vast amounts of column space, radio airtime and television broadcasts devoted to the ighting during the campaign, how much related events occurring

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within Gaza and beyond Gaza (and what was the spatial location of those events), what external retroversions were included, how much of the material was non- narrative material (oicial statements, commentary and analysis) and what so- cietal, theoretical, and meta-narratives were used to frame the events unfolding within Gaza? Who were the narrators and temporary narrators and how were tem- porary narrators re-narrated and temporally (and spatially) positioned? How do these compare across languages and what role does translation play in reconigur- ing and circulating these narratives? How to apply socio-narrative theory to Translation Studies? Its application is limited, I think, only by one’s own imagination and the availability of data. It is hoped that the literature discussed in this article, along with the revised typology, insights gained from combining narratological and sociological approaches, the intratextual model of analysis and the focus on narrators and temporary narrators, will be useful and valuable for researchers asking how to apply socio-narrative theory in Translation Studies.

Notes

1. he literature, of course, is vast. For starting references, see Somers and Gibson (1994, 80 n5), and for an overview of more recent developments and sources see also Herman et al (2007).

2. Hermans suggests “narrativity” as one of three possible approaches — the others are modern

hermeneutics and Niklas Luhmann’s concept of second-order observation — that could create within the discourse about translation a “certain self-critical distance” (2002, 20) that he sees as lacking in the discipline, but takes the suggestion no further than a brief, inaugural discussion of an essay by Mieke Bal (1993).

3. hese draw on Bruner (1991) and are temporality, relationality, causal emplotment, selective

appropriation, particularity, genericness, normativeness (canonicity and breach) and narrative accrual.

4. In his own work, Said also “repeatedly foregrounds the crucial role of narrative” (Al-Herthani

2009). See, for example, Said (1984).

5. Baker also discusses the organization, its translation policies and practices, and other refer-

ences to it in the media (2006, 73–5, 108–09, 177; 2010b).

6. See Baker (2006) for her discussion of “particularity” as a feature of narrative.

7. his is the understanding of “framing” followed by Baker (2006, 105–140) and drawn from

literature on social movements. While Baker discusses several framing strategies (temporal and spatial framing, selective appropriation, labelling, and positioning of participants), she does not speciically discuss the embedding of particular narratives into more general narratives as a framing strategy, although arguably, it could easily be considered as such. Conversely, Abbott discusses at some length the use of “framing narratives” from a narratological perspective

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(2008, 28–30), yet he is careful to diferentiate this from Gofman’s “frame theory” (1974/1986). Again, I would argue that, from a socio-narrative perspective, these framing narratives could easily be conceptualised through the lens of frame theory.

8. Conversely, a meta-narrative might also be “particularised” by linking it speciically to

concrete characters and locations, oten infusing them with the power of the meta-narrative. Examples might be “sacred sites” in Australian Aboriginal cultures, sites of historic battleields, and sites of religious signiicance or pilgrimage. Conlict over the application of diferent meta- narratives to such sites is oten a primary source of (armed) conlict over geographical space.

9. Baker calls this “weighting” (2006, 68), and she discusses it in the context of “causal emplot-

ment”, one of her “features of narrativity”. hese, along with Bruner’s (1991), could all be under- stood as aspects of Bal’s “story”.

10. Bal avoids “the more common terms ‘lash-back’ and ‘lash-forward’ because of their vague-

ness and psychological connotations” (2009, 83). Other terms used in narratology are “analep- sis” and “prolepsis” respectively (Abbott 2008, Genette 1972/1980, 40).

11. A third type, mixed, refers to a retroversion that returns to events which begin prior to the

primary narrative, but end within the time frame of the primary narrative. he duration of the anachronic events may be called the anachrony’s “extent” (Genette 1972/1980: 48) or its “span”

(2009, 91–91).

12. All translation are my own unless otherwise speciied.

13. he wave of terrorist attacks carried out in Russia by the terrorists, or boeviki, of the Social

Revolutionary Party in the early twentieth century, of which Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was a victim, are now widely acknowledged to be the irst example of sustained, organised ter- rorism in the modern period (Geifman 1993).

14. See ‘Another Journalist Detained at Moscow Airport’, (http://cpj.org/2004/09/another-

journalist-detained-at-moscow-airport.php, 5 March 2011) and ‘Prominent Russian Journalist Sentenced to Prison for Hooliganism’, (http://cpj.org/2004/09/prominent-russian-journalist- sentenced-to-prison-f.php, 5 March 2011) from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

15. In her study of live radio broadcasts of sports events, Ryan (1993) indentiies the construc-

tion of characters as one of three basic operations crucial to constructing a narrative from events as those events are occurring.

16. ‘Доктор Рошаль готов вылететь в Северную Осетию’, RIA-Novosti, 1 September 2004,

12:44. http://ria.ru/incidents/20040901/669256.html (accessed 11 January 2012).

17. ‘Famous Dr Roshal in North Ossetia to Mediate for Hostage Kids’, RIA-Novosti, 1 September

2004, 20:55. http://en.rian.ru/onlinenews/20040901/39768314.html (accessed 11 January 2012).

18. he distinction between non-narrative and narrative material is a pragmatic one based on

deinitions of narrative that stress the (causal) relation of events, and is used here to acknowl- edge the qualitative diferences between material that relates events and material that merely describes or comments upon those events. Of course, all material is ultimately understood through narrative coniguration, but I do not think it helpful if diferences are obscured by con- sidering everything to be narrative.

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19. Bruner acknowledges, but does not explore in any depth, the power of “great storytellers” to

either relate a narrative so well as to create the illusion that their story needs no interpretation, or alternatively, to lead people “to see human happenings in a fresh way…in a way they had

never before ‘noticed’ or even dreamed” (1991, 12). Somers and Gibson (1994), Somers (1997), and Baker (2006) discuss the concept of narrator only indirectly, in their considerations of per- sonal (or ontological) and public narratives and the construction of narratives by “social actors”, including individuals and social institutions.

20. hese categories of temporary narrators are, like any category adopted for the purpose of

analysis, porous and in lux rather than ixed. Correspondents may also narrate as eyewitnesses, and a government oicial may also be a relative of a hostage, as in the case of Taimuraz Mamsurov,

chair of the North Ossetian parliament, whose two children were among the hostages.

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