A few weeks ago, Routledge sent me a copy of the latest edition of Jeremy Munday’s Introducing Translation Studies, which I’ll be using in the fall with my undergraduate theory of translation course (in combination with the Reacting to the Past method I’ve already discussed here). We’ll be publishing a review of the book in the March 2013 issue of The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, but in the meantime, I thought I’d write a short review of my own here.
So what has changed since the last version of the book, which was published four years ago? Visually, this third edition, released in February 2012, is quite appealing: it uses both blue and black text throughout, which makes navigating through the chapters much easier. It’s also been expanded: the 2008 edition, which was also smaller in size, was 236 pages, while this one is 366. Although a new chapter, which discusses how to apply theory to translation commentaries and research projects, accounts for most of the extra pages, the other chapters generally contain new material as well.
As with the 2nd edition, a companion website has been prepared to accompany the book. There, students will find material to accompany every chapter–typically an introductory video, a series of multiple-choice questions, recommendations for further reading and suggestions for related research projects. While the book itself includes some of these same features (reading list and research project topics), the online material is different enough that students will find a visit to the website helpful. For instructors, the companion website offers free access to journal articles related to each chapter (annotated by Jeremy Munday), along with PowerPoint presentations that cover the main points of every chapter. I’m torn, though, as to whether these PowerPoints are an advantage or disadvantage: on the one hand, new instructors will likely find the files helpful; the slides can be customized, and the fact that the main points are already summarized in the presentations will help save some preparation time. On the other hand, a PowerPoint lecture is, at least in my view, a fairly boring way to present the material, and, as others have argued (e.g. Bligh 1998), lecturing alone is not an effective way to help students learn. For this reason, I would have liked to have seen Munday suggest different ways of integrating the content of his book into a translation theory class. For instance, the website could have offered activities related to each chapter’s content, additional case studies that could be analyzed together in class, or even recommendations for integrating various technologies (e.g. Twitter, blogs, wikis) into the classroom to help students reflect on and apply the material in the book. (For those who are interested, The Chronicle has published a number of articles discussing how professors have integrated these kinds of technologies into their classes, which could provide some inspiration for translation studies professors. Here’s one describing a professor’s experience allowing students to ask questions in class via Twitter, another offering advice on teaching with Twitter, and one more discussing how to integrate blogs into the classroom).
Companion website aside, this new edition of Introducing Translation Studies definitely has more to offer than the 2008 volume. In the new media chapter, for instance, Munday has been able to briefly address topics like crowdsourcing, fan-subbing and activist translation, three subjects that are increasingly popular of late, judging by the number of books and journals that have recently focused on these issues (e.g. the upcoming issue of The Translator focusing on non-professional translation, the 2011 issue of Linguistica Antverpiensia on community translation, or the 2010 book Translation/Interpreting and Social Activism). Students interested in cognitive approaches to translation will likely appreciate the new addition to Chapter 4, which discusses some of the ways of conducting observational research. While I would have liked to see additional case studies related to some of this new material (either in the book or on the companion website), the updated reading lists and discussion of new trends in translation studies make switching to the third edition worthwhile.
Bligh, Donald. (1998). What’s the Use of Lectures? Exeter: Intellect.