Translating Television in Latin America (with Laurena Bernabo)

In this week’s episode, guest Laurena Bernabo discusses her article “Progressive Television, Translation, and Globalization: The Case of Glee in Latin America” which analyzes the behind-the-scenes production process to dub the TV show Glee into Spanish for Latin American audiences. Bernabo demonstrates how managerial choices, talent availability, and narrative particularities shape the creative decisions for a show’s dubbing. In the specific case of Glee, these creative decisions significantly impact the translation of the show’s attempts at representing various identities, such as gender, race, and sexuality. Bernabo argues for the importance of studying production processes and translated texts together to account for how ideologically rich representations circulate across linguistic and national contexts.

“Production studies has considered global media flows, but the actual translation process gets glossed over. Translation studies are often based on the text. So what my research does is not just look at producers, the script-writing, the process, and not just look at the final product, but putting those two together to see what is happening behind the scenes. What are the kinds of norms or expectations or constraints? What are the factors that shape what they can or cannot do? And then, given all those factors, how does that shape the ways that identity are constructed?”

Episode Transcript (open as PDF)

Show Notes

05:17 about New Art Dub studio in Mexico City (in Spanish)

16:40 a Washington Post article about the normalization of Mexican accent as the accent-neutral Spanish

20:15 brief report on racial construction in Latin America

37:00 about The Kitchen studio in Miami

42:05 a New York Times article about Netflix’s investment in dubbing

About the Guest

Laurena Bernabo is an assistant professor in the department of Entertainment & Media Studies at the University of Georgia. Dr. Bernabo earned her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa’s Department of Communication in 2017. Her dissertation, titled “Translating Identity: Norms and Industrial Constraints in Adapting Glee for Latin America”, won the top dissertation award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language & Gender. Work from her dissertation has been published in Critical Studies in Media Communication and The Velvet Light Trap, and earned an award from the Media Industry Studies group of the International Communication Association. Dr. Bernabo continues her study of translation having visited The Kitchen, a prominent Miami dubbing studio, and has a forthcoming book chapter on U.S. responses to the subtitled Oscar-winning film Parasite.