Indirect Sexism in John Grisham’s Sycamore Row (2013): Unveiling Sexual Inequality Through a Gender-Committed Pedagogy in the Translation Classroom

  • José SantaemiliaEmail author


In the ongoing fight for sexual equality, discourse and translation are key mechanisms, that deserve careful scrutiny. This chapter describes a teaching experience within my Legal Translation (English–Spanish) module at the University of Valencia. Students were required to translate some passages from Sycamore Row (2013), a best-selling legal thriller by John Grisham. In class, we analyzed and discussed these passages and compared them with the students’ translations as well as with the 2014commercial Spanish version, entitled La herencia. Sexist and/or patronizing comments are common in this book, disguised under the veil of irony or humour. Thus, John Grisham manages—through humour and irony—to portray women as unprofessional in the legal field, as dangerous objects of men’s desire, as a source of danger and trouble, and so on. Translation as a didactic tool can be used to interrogate not only the linguistic structures of the original, but also its (androcentric) logic; in this respect, both feminist translation strategies (Flotow, 1991; Massardier-Kenney, 1997) and a feminist pedagogy (Ergun and Castro 2017) will be most useful.


Indirect sexism Feminist translation Translation teaching Feminist pedagogy Feminist pedagogy 


  1. Campos Pardillos, M.Á. 2007. Algunos apuntes metodológicos para las asignaturas de traducción jurídica avanzada. In La didáctica de la traducción en Europa e Hispanoamérica, ed. J.A. Albaladejo et al., 111–126. Alicante: Universidad.Google Scholar
  2. Castro, O. 2010. Non-sexist Translation and/in Social Change: Gender Issues in Translation. In Compromiso social y traducción/interpretación – Translation/Interpretation and Social Activism, ed. J. Boéri and C. Maier, 107–120. Granada: ECOS.Google Scholar
  3. Chesterman, A. 2009. The Name and Nature of Translator Studies. Hermes—Journal of Language and Communication Studies 42: 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chew, P.K., and L.K. Kelly-Chew. 2007. Subtly Sexist Language. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 16 (3): 643–678.Google Scholar
  5. De Lotbinière-Harwood, S. 1991. Re-belle et infidèle: La traduction comme pratique de réécriture au feminine [The Body Bilingual: Translation as a Rewriting in the Feminine]. Montréal and Toronto: les editions du remue-ménage and Women’s Press.Google Scholar
  6. Eco, U. 2003. Dire quasi la stessa cosa. Esperienze di traduzione. Milano: Bompiani.Google Scholar
  7. Ergun, E. and O. Castro. 2017. Pedagogies of Feminist Translation: Rethinking Difference and Commonality Across Borders. In Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives, ed. O. Castro and E. Ergun, 93–107. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Goodrich, P. 1987. Legal Discourse: Studies in Linguistics, Rhetoric and Legal Analysis. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Grisham, J. 2013. Sycamore Row. New York: Dell Books.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2014. La herencia, trans. Jofre Homedes Beutnagel. Barcelona: Plaza and Janés.Google Scholar
  11. Hooks, B. 1994. Teaching to Transgress. Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Inghilleri, M., and C. Maier. 2009. Ethics. In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, ed. M. Baker and G. Saldanha, 100–104. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Irwin, J.T. 2002. Beating the Boss: Cain’s Double Indemnity. American Literary History 14 (2): 255–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jaber, M.H. 2015. Criminal Femmes Fatales in American Hardboiled Crime Fiction. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Larkosh, C. 2017. Translation Studies and the Queer Ethics of the First Person. In Traducir para la igualdad sexual [Translating for Sexual Equality], ed. J. Santaemilia, 157–172. Granada: Comares.Google Scholar
  16. Lazar, M. 2005. Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis. Studies in Gender, Power and Ideology. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  17. Levine, S.J. 1983. Translation as (Sub)Version: On Translating Infante’s Inferno. Substance 42: 85–94.Google Scholar
  18. Maier, C. 1998. Issues in the Practice of Translating Women’s Fiction. Bulletin of Spanish Studies 75 (1): 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2003. Gender, Pedagogy and Literary Translation: Three Workshops and a Suggestion. In Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy, ed. B.J. Baer and G.S. Koby, 157–172. Amsterdam and Philadephia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  20. Martín Ruano, M.R. 2009. La neutralidad a examen: Nuevos asideros para el ejercicio de la traducción jurídica. In Reflexiones sobre la traducción jurídica [Reflections on Legal Translation], ed. J. Baigorri and H.J.L. Campbell, 73–89. Granada: Comares.Google Scholar
  21. Maruenda, S., and J. Santaemilia. 2012. An Introduction to Translation Practice (English–Spanish/Catalan). Valencia: PUV.Google Scholar
  22. Massardier-Kenney, F. 1997. Towards a Redefinition of Feminist Translation Practice. The Translator 3 (1): 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mayoral, R. 2000. (Official) Sworn Translation and Its Functions. Babel 46 (4): 300–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mills, S. 2008. Language and Sexism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mizejewski, L. 2004. Hardboiled and High Heeled. The Woman Detective in Popular Culture. New York and London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pawling, Christopher (ed.) 1984. Popular Fiction and Social Change. London: Macmillan Press.Google Scholar
  27. Pym, A. 2010. Translation and Text Transfer: An Essay on the Principles of Intercultural Communication, Rev. ed. Tarragona: Universitat.Google Scholar
  28. Reimóndez, M. 2017. Distance or Engagement? Questioning Mainstream Discourses on Interpreter Professionalism from a Feminist and Postcolonial Perspective. In Traducir para la igualdad sexual [Translating for Sexual Equality], ed. J. Santaemilia, 137–148. Granada: Comares.Google Scholar
  29. Santaemilia, J. (ed.). 2005. Gender, Sex and Translation: The Manipulation of Identities. Manchester: St. Jerome.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2009. It’s Unfair to be a Second-Class Citizen Because of Love: The Legal, Sexual and Discursive Struggles Over ‘Gay Marriages’ in Spain. In Proceedings of the 5th Biennial International Gender and Language Association Conference IGALA 5, ed. J. de Bres, J. Holmes, and Marra Meredith, 317–328. Wellington: University of Wellington.Google Scholar
  31. Santaemilia, J., and S. Maruenda. 2013. Naming Practices and Negotiation of Meaning: A Corpus-Based Analysis of Spanish and English Newspaper Discourse. In Research Trends in Intercultural Pragmatics, ed. I. Kecskes and J. Romero Trillo, 439–457. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar
  32. Sauerberg, L.O. 2016. The Legal Thriller from Gardner to Grisham. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shrewsbury, C.M. 1993. What Is Feminist Pedagogy? Women’s Studies Quarterly 25 (12): 166–173.Google Scholar
  34. Swim, J.K., et al. 2004. Understanding Subtle Sexism: Detection and Use of Sexist Language. Sex Roles 51 (3/4): 117–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Swirski, P., and F. Wong. 2006. Briefcases for Hire: American Hardboiled to Legal Fiction. The Journal of American Culture 29 (3): 307–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tymoczko, M. 2007. Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Tymoczko, M., and E. Gentzler (Eds.). 2002. Translation and Power. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  38. Venuti, L. 1998. The Scandals of Translation. Towards an Ethics of Difference. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vidal Claramonte, M.C.A. 2013. Towards a New Research Model in Legal Translation: Future Perspectives in the Era of Asymmetry. Linguistica Antverpiensa 12: 182–196.Google Scholar
  40. Vidal Claramonte, M.C.A., and M.R. Martín Ruano. 2003. Deconstructing the Discourse on Legal Translation, or Towards an Ethics of Responsibility. In Speaking in Tongues: Language Across Contexts and Uses, ed. L. Pérez González, 141–159. Valencia: Universitat de València.Google Scholar
  41. von Flotow, L. 1991. Feminist Translation: Contexts, Practices and Theories. Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction 4 (2): 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. ———. 2005. The Strain of Cultural Transfer: A Brazilian Critic of Canadian and Other Feminisms. In Perspectivas Transnacionais, ed. S.R. Goulart Almeida, 31–41. UFMG: Belo Horizonte.Google Scholar
  43. Wagner, A., et al. 2014. Cultural Transfer and Conceptualization in Legal Discourse. In The Ashgate Handbook of Legal Translation, ed. L. Cheng, et al., 27–42. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ValenciaValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations