Authorial Translation in Renaissance Europe

  • Start date:
    15/05/2015, 00:00

Deadline: 15 May 2015

Organizers: Dr William Barton (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, Innsbruck); Dr Sara Olivia Miglietti (Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick)

This panel, or series of panels, aims to investigate the forms and strategies of authorial translation in the long Renaissance (c. 1350-1650). By ‘authorial translation’ we intend to designate a constellation of practices ranging from self-translation proper (see e.g. Cordingley 2013, Deneire 2013, Turchetti 2013, Turchetti 2015) to the activity of ‘“strong” translators who placed their own unmistakable imprint on the works they translated’ (Bernofsky 2005:x). In thelatter sense, authorial translation is not necessarily defined ‘by the translator being an author in his own right, but by his active shaping of the translated text in a particular direction’ (ibid.). By encouraging reflection on this theme, we aim to draw attention to a crucial, though still understudied, aspect of Renaissance culture, and to establish a dialogue between intellectual historians, linguists, and literary theorists concerning the character of Renaissance translation practices.

In recent decades, the ‘translation turn’ that has thoroughly reshaped literary and cultural studies by transforming translation from a ‘thing to be taught’ into a ‘thing to be studied’ (Bassnett and Lefevere 1990) has also brought into focus the importance of translation as a pivotal aspect of Renaissance culture. Renaissance translation has thereafter been investigated as a humanistic practice allowing dissemination of ancient texts and knowledge, and—more often than not—carried out under controversial theoretical guidelines (see e.g. Botley 2004); as a catalyst of transnational and/or cross-cultural communication and ‘hybridization’ (see e.g. Burke 2005, Burke and Po-chia Hsia 2007, and William Pettigrew’s on-going AHRC project on ‘Cultural Hybridisation and Early ModernGlobalisation’); as a social practice defined by specific material and historical circumstances (see e.g. Pérez Fernández and Wilson-Lee 2014); and as a key contributor to the refashioning of Latin and to the development of national vernacular languages in Renaissance Europe (see e.g. Melehy 2010, Thurn 2012, Deneire 2014).

While studies such as these have greatly advanced our knowledge of the forms and strategies of Renaissance translation, as well as of the social and biographical profiles of Renaissance translators (see e.g. recent studies of John Florio by Pfister 2005, Pirillo 2013), substantial work still remains to be done in order to clarify the complex relationship between translation and authorship throughout the late medieval and early modern period—a time that witnessed profound transformations to the very notion of ‘author’ (see Brunn 2001). By focusing on the theory and practice of Renaissance authorial translation, we hope to contribute, on the one hand, to our knowledge of Renaissance translation practices, and, more broadly, to the on-going theoretical debate about the nexus between translation and authorship (see e.g. Venuti 2008 and Pym 2010).

We welcome abstracts for 20-minute presentations on the following themes:

  • –  authorial translation: definition and case studies
  • – self-translation: forms, strategies, related issues (linguistic: Latin andvernacular, bilingualism, linguistic choice and the expressive potentialities of different languages, etc.; social and cultural: intended audiences, impact of censorship, etc.; literary: authorial revision, rewriting, authorial intention, etc.)
  • –  supervised translation: status and case studies
  • –  traducteur/traditeur: translation as a form of rewriting/authorship

    Please send a 150-word abstract (inclusive of keywords) and a 300-word curriculum vitae to by 15 May 2015 (sample CVs are available on the RSA website:

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