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Call for Papers - Early Modern Translations and the Classics

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Published Date

August 28, 2023


The recent surge of interest in “global Classics”, the study of the texts and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean beyond the bounds of Greece and Rome, has directed much scholarly attention to the reception of Classics in vernacular languages and the role of Classics as a medium of interaction between cultures. Excitingly, such inquiry has also opened the door to exploring more marginalized voices in Classical studies, such as translations by women [“Grossly Material Things”: Women and Book Production in Early Modern England, Smith 2012] and the reception of Classics in Latin America [Empire without End: Virgilian epics from Spanish and Portuguese America, Valdivieso forthcoming] and East Asia [Plato Goes to China, Bartsch 2023]. Furthermore, we are interested in exploring the potential avenues generated by examining the bi-directional relationship between translation in and out of Classical languages and vernaculars and the composition of new texts within the confluence of different cultures. 

This conference will further such efforts by gathering together scholars who are interested in the global picture of Classics and translations during the early modern period (ca. 1500-1800). The scope is intentionally broad so as to encompass translations of the Classics into other languages, polyglot works, and global reception of classics, etc. The conference will showcase the breadth and depth of the field, foster cooperation within and between fields, and encourage cross-discipline publication.

Possible topics include:

  • the influence of ancient translation theory on early modern vernacular-to-vernacular translation practices

  • Jesuit missionaries’ use of Latin alongside/against indigenous languages and text cultures

  • the dialogue between different vernacular translations of ancient works, e.g. Alexander Pope and Anne Dacier on Homer, as a form of critical inquiry

  • the role of translation from the classics in constructing early modern women’s participation in the public sphere

  • the translation of the Chinese Classical canon into Latin (and other European vernaculars) for European audiences

  • the pedagogical practice of “double translation” and its influence on Neo-Latin writing

  • the influence of Latin American contexts on the development of Neo-Latin writing

  • metrical innovations in 16th-century English verse in response to Greek poetry

  • experimentation with Classical genres in Renaissance humanist works

The conference, sponsored by the University of Oxford and Princeton University, will be held 8-9 March 2024 at Princeton University. We are pleased to have Dr. Gail Trimble, Associate Professor of Classical Languages and Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Trimble writes on Latin poetry and literary form and is completing a new commentary on Catullus 64 with Cambridge University Press.

We invite 20-minute paper proposals of no more than 500 words from postgraduate students and early career researchers in any field. Abstracts are to be submitted to [email protected] by November 30. Also, please see the conference Facebook page here.                                                                                                                                                                                               
Please direct any questions you may have to the conference organizers, Cynthia Liu ([email protected]) and Jamie Wheeler ([email protected]).