Talk:Distancing effect

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Talk[edit]

Verfremdungseffekt in English[edit]

I don't understand why this page is titled "Distancing Effect." This translation is far less common than "alienation effect," and it does little to clarify the nuances of Brecht's neologism. Alienation effect at least retains the etymological connection to Entfremdung. I wrote a comment two years ago pointing out that "alienation effect" is 5x more common than "distancing effect" when cross-referenced with "Brecht" in jstor results since 1990 (still true), but I'm not sure to whom my appeal should be directed. The title of an article is not the proper place for this kind of editorial rigidity, nor is it appropriate to attempt to undermine 70+ years of thoughtful scholarship on Brecht by dismissing "alienation effect" as a mistranslation. There seems to be someone out there who cares very deeply about this, and I invite him or her to cite and sufficiently cross-reference the idea that "distancing effect" has become the translation of choice. Pblchkn (talk) 21:50, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

You may be right about the frequency, but regarding accuracy my understanding, from an eminent German dramaturge, is that since "Entfremdung" has such a long philosophical history in German going back past Marx at the least, and has traditionally been translated "Alienation" in English, that to say "Alienation Effect" in English implies that the German is "Entfremdungeffekt", which it's not. This carries all the baggage of the philosophical content of "Alienation", and is inaccurate to people concerned with the broader scope of German intellectual history. Of course Brecht partially intended this, as you say, but he could have literally said "Alienation Effect" in German, but he definitely and intentionally did not. "Distancing Effect" at least has the virtue of being neutrally descriptive and a new term with echoes of an old one, like a palimpsest or something. 76.219.76.176 (talk) 23:24, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I looked into the archive and you clearly understand all the issues... I guess the sense I want to argue is that people feel strongly AGAINST this one term, not for any particular other term. I know a lot of theater artists who use the concept and feel strongly about this issue because their goal is to question and overcome alienating cultural patterns, not alienate an audience further. Second, it may not be similar to the page for, say, "Killer Whale" because the actual meaning of the term is implicated in its translation. An interesting one is "Nanking Massacre" which retains the archaic "Nanking" for "Nanjing" but is modernized instead of the traditional "Rape of Nanking". 76.219.76.176 (talk) 01:45, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I disagree. Not only is there a strong sentiment against "alienation effect," there has been a strong push towards adopting Jameson's "V-effect." "V-effect" has been used more and more frequently by scholars and in classrooms the last decade or so, appearing in conferences, papers, and graduate seminars. "Alienation effect" is not only problematic because of the long academic history of "Entfremdungeffekt," well articulated above, but also because on the misleading connotations "alienation" (and "distancing" for that matter) has in English. Brecht is not arguing that his audience should be emotionally alienated or distanced from his epic theatre, as is often misinterpreted. In fact, he argues for the exact opposite. Brecht argues for an engaged and stimulated audience, like one would find at a boxing match: with alcohol and cigars and emotionally invested. What the audience should be distanced or alienated from is emotional connection and empathy towards the characters. "V-effect" does not allow quick and uncritical oversimplification in English, as "alienation effect" and "distancing effect" can. Special:Contributions/24.118.2.105 (talk) 08:38, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you to both of the respondents. I understand the shortcomings of "alienation effect" as a translation, but similar arguments could be made about every other option. The simple truth is that there has never been a consensus; I've read or heard "alienation," "estrangement," "distanciation," "distancing," dis-illusion," "V-effect," and "defamiliarization," none of which captures the duplicitous relationship between Verfremdung and Entfremdung (For an especially cogent reading of the relationship between these two concepts, see Ernst Bloch "Alienation, Estrangement: Entfremdung, Verfremdung": http://www.jstor.org/pss/1144598). This is, however, a question best left for the body of the article. In both academic journals and the popular press, alienation effect remains at least 5x more popular than any other translation (again, you can verify this by cross-referencing "alienation effect" and "Brecht" in jstor or lexis-nexis and comparing the results with the alternative translation of your choice). It's patronizing and misleading to assume that those scholars who continue to refer to the most-common translation are unaware of its shortcomings. Pblchkn (talk) 23:56, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Right now the page is a mess of fragmentary attempts to explain the problem. Can one of you replace them with a concise paragraph, with citations? That way the question of title will be much less important. NeoAdamite (talk) 01:53, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

The Brecht quote ('prevents the audience....') is much repeated elsewhere on the internet, and apparently in some published works, but in my copy of Brecht on Theatre, which is a 1986 reprint of the Hill and Wang edition, it does not appear on page 91. In fact, I cannot find these words anywhere in the book (the title of which is wrongly spelled in the citation - should not be "theater"). It is possible that it is a paraphrase of what Brecht says in the essay quoted on that page, which is on 'Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting', that is: 'the audience was hindered from simply identifying itself with he characters in the play.' Can others check their editions of this book, to see if I have just missed the quote? Or if it appears on a different page? Redmagic (talk) 12:45, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

I agree, Redmagic: that passage you quoted from p. 91 does look like the likeliest candidate for the actual quotation. But it's not really close enough to the "prevents the audience" quotation in the article to be, say, a competing translation. My guess is that the "prevents the audience" quotation is not Brecht at all, but a critic's paraphrase and explanation of Brecht's concept. (It's not John Willett's, from the end of "Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting.") A Google search turns up thousands of web pages with this exact quote, almost never with bibliographical citations, but occasionally with Willett 91, suggesting that the author of this Wikipedia article simply took it from one of those other web pages. Hong12kong (talk) 09:56, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Hong12kong, I had already annotated a student's essay with this quote to the effect that I do not believe that this is actually from Brecht's work. It seems to me that it should be removed from the article, unless the original author can give a legitimate source. I also did that Google search, and agree that it may be that the author took the quote from one of those other sources. It is also possible, I suppose, that those other quotes can be traced back to this wikipedia page, which says something rather depressing about the state of scholarship in this area.Redmagic (talk) 12:42, 29 March 2013 (UTC)