Polyglot Encounters in Early Modern English Narratives of Distant Travels, 9 and 11 Nov. 2020

Join us for two virtual evening sessions (5-6.30pm – UK time) on 9 & 11 November 2020 – you can watch the two sessions here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/yibuf0ab/1 (click on “schedule” to switch from the first to the second session) (courtesy of the Society of Renaissance Studies – many thanks to Rachel Willie)

Organisers: Nandini Das (TIDE, Exeter College, Oxford), Ladan Niayesh (LARCA, University of Paris; Visiting Fellow, Exeter College, Oxford)

In an age of geographic discoveries and colonisation, easier communication, and international trade growing steadily from the mid-16th century, England gradually established itself as an Atlantic and global power, as a prelude to the formation of the British empire. English records of this era of expansion offer multiple examples of linguistic contacts with the wider world, with translations, lexical borrowings, and records of multilingual exchanges between travellers and the peoples they encountered.

These two online evening seminar sessions, jointly organised by TIDE (University of Oxford, ERC) and LARCA (University of Paris, CNRS), aim at exploring some of the practices and strategies underpinning polyglot encounters in travel accounts produced or read in England. Drawing on linguistic, lexicographic, literary and historical methodologies, we will look into some of the contexts and significances of these textual contact zones. Particular attention will be paid to uses of polyglossia in processes of identity construction, defining and promoting national or imperial agendas, appropriating and assimilating foreign linguistic capital, or meeting resistance and limits from linguistic and cultural others refusing to lend themselves to subaltern status.

The event is supported by ERC-TIDE (Oxford), the “Early Modernities” programme of LARCA (UMR 8225, CNRS, University of Paris), the “Translation and Polyglossia” project (Université Paris Nanterre & Institut Universitaire de France), IHRIM (UMR 5317, CNRS, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon), and the EMRC (University of Reading). Session 1: Global Threads and Tangles 9 November, 5:00-6.30PM

Chair: Laetitia Sansonetti (Université Paris Nanterre & Institut Universitaire de France)

5:00-5.30PM Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex): “The Madoc Legend, Language and Race at the Dawn of The First British Empire”

5.30-6:00PM Sarah Knight (University of Leicester): ” ‘Their Garments variegate like ye fishes in ye Euxine sea’’: fashion, languages and perceptions of the Ottoman world at the early modern English universities”

6:00-6.30PM: Question and discussion time

Session 2: Communications and Miscommunications 11 November, 5-6.30PM Chair: Sophie Lemercier-Goddard (IHRIM, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon)

5:00-5.30PM Donatella Montini (University of Sapienza Rome): “Travel and Translation in John Florio’s Two Navigations”

5.30-6:00PM Matthew Dimmock (University of Sussex): “Ylyaoute! English Engagements with the ‘Strange Tongues’ of the Far North”

6:00-6.30PM: Question and discussion time

Translation and Polyglossia in Early Modern England


The aim of the ‘Translation and Polyglossia in Early Modern England’ project is to analyse the evolution of literary polyglossia, i.e. the co-presence of several languages within one printed text, whether those languages are set in parallel or intertwined, in works printed in England over the 16th and 17th centuries. A study of translation practices will shed light on this history of polyglossia in order to show how, through the circulation of texts and people, the humanist exercise of translation recommended to learn languages shaped the English literary production of the period. This study will help understand better the ways in which a feeling of national identity was built on a common vernacular, at a time when linguistic exchanges with countries on the Continent and beyond became more intense.
This blog will record the meetings of the ‘LLCT 16-17’ seminar (‘Linguistic, Literary, Cultural Transfers, 16th-17th centuries’), which will take place four times a year, chaired by Laetitia Sansonetti (junior fellow at Institut Universitaire de France, 2018-2023), gathering French and international researchers who study linguistic, literary, and cultural transfers between the British Isles and the rest of the world in the 16th and 17th centuries.