Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-29-2020


This thesis focuses on the question of translator roles in literary theory. I characterize these roles between positions that have traditionally been described by literary and philosophical theorists such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault. By examining the products of translation (French-language bandes-dessinées and their English translations), and considering critical literary and translation theories, I demonstrate the unique position held by translators and their work through the proposal of what I call the translator-function (modeled after Foucault’s author-function). The principal aim of this thesis is to problematize preconceived ideas about translators and to examine the unique position of the translator in literary tradition. I propose therefore to expand contemporary literary theory to include translation and those who produce it. Translation, I contend, is worthy of critical literary consideration rather than simply being a necessary function within the market forces of global literary industries. Translation figures perform essential and often transformative functions in the transmission of literary and cultural information from one language community to another, while oscillating between the positions of reader and author in very distinctive ways. This thesis will demonstrate that the translator exists at the threshold of these essential roles and enacts indispensable elements of these figures in his or her work. The concept of the translator-function will assist in conceiving the translator’s role and thus be formulated through a consideration of the translator’s various roles in negotiating a source text’s language, visual elements, influences, contexts, and readership in the target language.


Hergé, Tintin, French, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, cultural turn

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Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Francis Higginson

Second Committee Member

Dr. Marina Peters-Newell

Third Committee Member

Dr. Stephen Bishop