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Introducing the classics: A case study of the introductory work to translations of Max Weber and Georg Simmel

Pengelly, Beth (1996) Introducing the classics: A case study of the introductory work to translations of Max Weber and Georg Simmel. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis is a study of a period of theoretical development within American sociology focusing on the resourcing of the translated texts of two theorists, Max Weber and Georg Simmel. It is based on the textual work of translators in prefatory and introductory work to the English translations, and makes evident the social organisation of the re-production and re-presentation of both theorists' texts.

I constitute my account of translators' textual work from the 'companion' texts they wrote to accompany the publication of their translations. Explicitly concerned with introducing the translations, companion texts provide a mediative commentary about the relation between the German and English texts, and between past and contemporary sociology. I have written the thesis as a series of overlapping readings of the companion texts which explore their mediative and organising role. I explore three moments of the textwork of translators: the work of selection of text for translation; the rendering (transliteration) of the text, and the work of re-presenting the translation as the original author's text.

The textwork of the translators is the precondition for classical exegesis as a form of theorising, but has not received close sociological attention. Translators, mostly academic sociologists explicitly concerned with sociological theory and development, wrote companion texts that enable readings of translations as what Weber or Simmel said,' 'thought' or 'intended'. I draw on studies within the sociology of texts to develop my reading of the writing-work of the translators. Feminist examples of resistance to re-reading are interwoven in the study to highlight the inscription of genderic concerns, to trace their development throughout the separate moments of the translation process, and their changes through time.

The study is historically located by the publication dates of translations, but focuses on the material transformations of texts and their reorganisation. The conventional practices of the thirty years after the second world war are the primary focus. I argue that changes to conventional practices in the last twenty years in line with increased awareness of textual and (in a limited way) feminist concerns, do not significantly alter the gendering of authority which was a consequence of earlier biographical modes of introduction. The thesis shows how androcentricity is reproduced in this instance, by its implication within the reading/writing practices deployed in the translation of the classics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Baldock, Cora and Booth, Michael
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