Research Group for Law and Culture in the Pre-Modern North

Motivations and Methods: The Later Translation of Medieval Texts

Many readers access medieval texts primarily through translations, and this has been the case since the early-modern period. In this conference, we seek to engage with the history of the translated medieval text, the motivations behind translations and their methods.

A manuscript page showing an original and translation in parallel columns
AM 313 fol. 2r; parallel Old Norwegian and Danish translation of the Landslov
Handrit.is (AM 313 fol.)

Main content

The conference will focus specifically on the translation of medieval texts in post-medieval times. We welcome both papers that take as their subject early modern translations of medieval texts, as well as modern translations of medieval texts, from any geographical area, from subject areas such as law, history, literature and medicine.

We are delighted to welcome Professors Alison Finlay (Birkbeck) and Liam Breatnach (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) as keynote speakers. 

Papers may consider the motivations behind the translation, engaging with such questions as:

  • What are the explicit and implicit motivations behind the translation?
  • Why/how were the source and target languages chosen?
  • How does the translation engage with previous translations?
  • What does the translation or act of translation tell us about the political and social context of the translated text?

Papers may also consider the methods used to produce the translation. You might, for example:

  • Talk about an aspect of your way of working when translating medieval texts.
  • Explain why a certain vocabulary was used.
  • Walk us through a problem you have faced in doing translations and way you have sought to solve the problem.
  • Consider editions of texts and their translation(s).

You may also choose to engage with themes such as antiquarianism, the history of translation, why certain texts have been translated many times or not at all, and the benefits and drawbacks of undertaking translations in the first place.

Papers will be 20 minutes long. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and submitted to the organisers by email no later than the 20th July:

For more information or questions, please contact:

Helen F. Leslie-Jacobsen, University of Bergen (helen.leslie@uib.no)

Ciaran McDonough, University College Dublin (ciaran.mcdonough@ucd.ie)

PDF of Conference Programme