Bourdieu and Genette in Paratext: How Sociology Counts in Linguistic Reasoning

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar

Abstract

While Bourdieu’s theory of practice provides an ensemble of conceptual tools which analyze patterns of social life that are irreducible to the limiting view of individuals as free-acting agents, Genette’s paratextual theory offers the metalanguage necessary to account for the microcosm of paratext as a linguistic space. This study takes issue with unidirectional approaches to researching paratexts in terms of linguistic or sociological accounts, and argues for a bidirectional understanding of paratext to unearth the interplay between structure and agency. Drawing on Genette’s paratextual features and Bourdieu’s sociology, this interactive approach is explored in a series of analyses of paratexts enveloping two Arabic translations of Gibran’s The Earth Gods. Through a discussion of the linguistic manifestations and the socio-historical backdrops of paratexts, the paper argues that the preface with its attendant micro features has the potential to exhibit the translation illusio which epistemologically foregrounds the stakes and investments that motivate the production of translation.

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