Friday 17th March 14:15—15:45, Session 3

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Overview of programme


Translating Genres 3


Seminarraum 3


Christine Glassner

Paper 1:

Crowd Control: The South English Legendary and the Revival of Vernacular Writings

Niamh Kehoe

Paper 2:

Friend or Foe? Perceptions of Ancient Rome in Medieval Venice between Politics and Culture

Daniele Dibello


Paper 3:

Translations of the Medieval Historiography in Czech Lands and Their Readers

Marie Bláhová

Crowd Control: The South English Legendary and the Revival of Vernacular Writings

Niamh Kehoe

This paper shall discuss the collection of saints’ lives produced towards the end of the thirteenth century in England, known as the South English Legendary (SEL). The SEL is famous for being one of the first major works to be written in vernacular English since the beginning of the thirteenth century. The period of decline in the production of English vernacular texts roughly coincides with the reigns of King John (r.1199-1216) and Henry III (r.1216-1272); a time when England was rife with political and national unrest. It was a time in which Anglo-French held a higher social status than English, and books which were produced in English laboured to do so against the nobility’s interest in foreign literature (Thompson, 29). The fact that the SEL was produced in English at the end of the century takes on special significance as one of the first major works to privilege the vernacular in many years.

This paper shall examine how the author(s)’ audience (or readership) within the historical context of the production of the early SEL (c.1260) influenced not only the language in which it was written, but also the style. By examining the style, particularly its long acknowledged entertaining qualities, this paper shall consider whether the author(s) in turn attempted to influence audience perception not just of the saints’ lives being heard/read, but also of the contemporary political and social unrest. In examining how the author(s) of the SEL engaged with their sources (as well as including much original material), it is possible to gain valuable insights into audience expectation and manipulation. This in turn contributes to our understanding of socio-political currents at the end of the thirteenth century. When compared to pre-Norman Conquest vernacular saints’ lives, these texts offer a unique blueprint in which to gauge such audience expectation/manipulation: saints’ lives encompass a period of great social change yet one of continuity in the types of hagiographic texts copied and circulated.

Translations of the Medieval Historiography in Czech Lands and Their Readers

Marie Bláhová

The author follows the medieval translations of historical works in Czech lands from their origins in the first half of the 14th century to the end of the Middle Ages. Unlike the majority of European Latin-oriented cultural circles, the first translations of historical work in Bohemia wasn‘t made by converting the Latin text into vernacular language, but on the contrary, the translation of the Chronicle of Dalimil, an old Bohemian text, was made into Latin as well as into German.

The official hitoriography from Charles IV‘s era, Charles‘ autobiography and Přibík Pulkava of Radenin's Czech Chronicle were all translated into vernacullar languages. At the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, the translators emphasized their interest towards universal historiography and translated the world chronicles into Czech. After the Hussite Wars, the translations are already being made in municipal environment with the intention of aiming at the town residents.

In the 15th century, there was also an interest in Czech history outside the lands of the Bohemian Crown. Namely in Bavaria, the main Czech historiographical works were translated into German.