Gender Studies Programme - Manipulating Simone de Beauvoir: A Case Study of the Chinese Translations of the Second Sex

March 25 (Wednesday) 12:30 - 2:00 pm

Topic : Manipulating Simone de Beauvoir: A Case Study of the Chinese Translations of the Second Sex                  
Speaker : Nicki Liu Haiping

Speaker's Biography :
Nicki LIU Haiping is a MPhil student in Translation Department and Gender Studies program of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Deeply encouraged by Sherry Simon’s and Louise von Flotow’s writing on gender and translation, Nicki combines her passion for gender issues and knowledge of translation studies into her current research project. She attempts to analyze the macro-context (the socio-cultural background of publishers, translators, writers, etc) and the micro-level textual data in order to get a fuller picture of the complex operations and manipulations involved in translation of The Second Sex in China. 

Moderator : Dr. CHO Man Kit, Gender Studies Programme, CUHK

Language : English

Venue : CKB 109 (Room 109, Chen Kou Bun Building) 

Abstract :
Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, one of the most influential feminist works and the starting point of second-wave feminism, has been translated and published several times in Mainland China and Taiwan since 1972 to date. This thesis seeks to analyze how the Chinese translations of The Second Sex are manipulated by its cultural mediators, especially translators. Drawing upon the Manipulation School’s theoretical frameworks, this paper firstly probes into the praxis of translation activities and Chinese feminist discourses since 1970s through close reading of the paratextual materials of all the Chinese translations of The Second Sex, including translators’ prefaces, publishers’ notes and introductions, etcA few sub-questions are addressed in this endeavor: How did the cross-cultural dynamics of feminist knowledge transfer from the West to China shape the translations of The Second Sex? How did women’s movements in Taiwan before and after the lifting of the Martial Law govern the translation and publishing journey of The Second Sex? How did translators in Mainland China negotiate the volatile mixing of Marxism with Existential Feminism in their translation projects under the Chinese Communist nation-state’s political control over post-Maoist academic feminism? Secondly, through a detailed comparison of  three chapters -- “Sexual Initiation”, “The Married Woman” and  “The Woman in Love” -- among four Chinese translations, this study adopts Jeremy Munday’s Appraisal Theory to bring to light and analyze the complexities of the configuration of gender/sexual identities taken on by translators, the tension between patriarchy and feminism faced by translators in their social context, and the emotional affinities and resistance translators have in their translations — and, ultimately, of how all these factors shape the Chinese translations of The Second Sex at a linguistic level.