RECAP: “Researching the Eighteenth Century” Seminar 1

RECSO Michaelmas Term Seminar Series: “Researching the Eighteenth Century”

Dr. Fiona Gatty and Adam Bridgen

For those of you who were unable to make it, but wish to keep up to date with the seminar series and future talks, today Dr. Kelsey Rubin-Detlev instigated a fascinating discussion on translation and its place in research. Sharing her expertise, Kelsey talked of translation as a form not so much of mechanical reproduction, but rather as a ‘creative’ act which allowed one to engage with and understand the nature of eighteenth-century writing in revelatory and surprising detail. Kelsey situated this discussion within a broader story and history of translation itself, and emphasised the developing status of translation within academic research, particularly given the focus on ‘Impact’ in the REF. Kelsey proceeded to discuss her translation project on Catherine the Great’s letters, with Prof. Andrew Kahn, and the productive challenges of Catherine’s idiosyncratic language, multi-linguality, and the cultural and social significance of the use of different registers. It turns out scholarly translators face many of the same decisions which editors do, in attempting to preserve the original meaning of a given text, while of course making it available to modern audiences. The audience’s questions and ensuing conversation embraced the politics of translation, comparative translation, translation as a poetic practice and the particular challenge of poetry to modern translators, bringing us to reflect on the compartmentalised nature and focus that we bring to translation these days, and the undervaluation of translation in the world of GoogleTranslate.

Our next talk is entitled, ‘A life in the past: finding your way round the archives and libraries of France in a pre-digital age’ (Professor Laurence Brockliss, Magdalen College) on Friday 28 October (Week 3) 12:30-2pm, Colin Matthew Room, Radcliffe Humanities. All are welcome.

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