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A Manuscript Present: Translation and Remediation in the Early Middle Ages

Friday, October 24, 2014
12:00 AM
Keene Theater, East Quad

We like to think of ourselves as the digital age. We are fast, we are mobile. When the digital age looks back at the middle ages, here are the two images we’re most likely to imagine: the monk bent over his parchment, and the book chained to the desk. Physical labor and absolute immobility: the very opposite of the hands-free mobility with which we flatter ourselves.  I won’t dispute the physicality—in fact, I’m going to praise it—but immobility? That’s another story. Early medieval books did in fact move; in fact, the very idea of ideas in movement—translation broadly understood—is central to the stories many of these books tell about themselves. Early medieval bookishness is a world of intense and material mobility and linguistic flux that deepens our modern understandings of “translation.”

Speaker:
Catherine Brown, Comparative Literature and Residential College