Writing Bilingually is a research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust from January 2023 to March 2026. Led by Dr Sara Miglietti, it aims to create an annotated repertory of prose self-translations printed in Italy and France from 1465 to 1700. The results will be shared through an online database and an open-access annotated repertory, as well as through peer-reviewed publications.
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Overview of the project
Early modern Europe was a multilingual world: while Latin was still the lingua franca of international scholarly exchanges, vernacular languages were increasingly being used for both literary and scientific endeavours. Many writers were actively bilingual, switching between languages depending on subject and intended audience. Some went so far as to translate their own works across different languages: usually Latin and a vernacular, sometimes different vernaculars, in rare cases even Greek and Latin.
The activities of these ‘self-translators’ are still poorly understood. Most studies to date have centred around individual case-studies, usually of canonical literary figures. Writing Bilingually takes a more comprehensive approach, examining the full scope of this practice not only among famous literati, but also in the more technical domains of medicine, philosophy, theology, and practical advice. Some of the questions we aim to address include:
- Who self-translated, why, and in what contexts?
- What role did self-translations play in circulating knowledge among domestic and international publics?
- How did self-translation relate to translation tout court? Were the two commonly understood as distinct activities? Did self-translators reflect programmatically on their practice in the same way translators often did?
- How did self-translation relate to early modern language debates? What can it tell us about the interaction of Latin and vernacular, but also of multiple vernaculars, in early modern language communities?