Sara Miglietti (with Marco Spreafico and Eugenia Sisto)

The presentation of the official release of the Writing Bilingually database, the first comprehensive survey of prose self-translations produced in Italy and France from the early age of print to the end of the seventeenth century. Self-translation (the practice of translating one's own works) offers a unique vantage to study the multilingual dimension of early modern European culture, where classical languages coexisted in fruitful symbiosis with modern vernaculars. Writers self-translated across different languages to reach wider readerships while showcasing linguistic mastery and retaining control over their work. In so doing they often revised their original source-texts, whether to adapt them to a different intended public or for other reasons.

From Leon Battista Alberti’s On Painting to John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, many important works from this period exist in different (but equally authorial) language versions, which should be studied together like panels of the same diptych. But self-translation was not confined to "great books" and "major figures": it occurred across the whole spectrum of textual production, from ephemera such as prognostications and funeral orations to travel accounts and surgery textbooks.

Featuring findings from an ongoing project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Writing Bilingually database will eventually bring together over 500 works that will transform our understanding of this phenomenon. This Work-in-Progress seminar marks the official public release of the project database, and includes a practical demonstration of its key functionalities.