Medieval and Anglo-Saxon Cultural Translation Session Panel, 4/30/15-5/3/15

full name / name of organization: 
NEMLA 2015 Convention in Toronto

We are looking for papers for a session panel at the NEMLA 2015 Convention in Toronto, running from 4/30/15-5/3/15. Please see the following information describing the panel, and submit all abstracts via by 9/30/14.

Session Title: Medieval and Anglo-Saxon Cultural Translation

Area: Anglophone

Secondary Area: Comparative Languages & Theory

Session Format: Panel

Chair Information

First Name: Valerie

Last Name: Illuminati

Affiliation: Rutgers University-Camden


As texts' meanings change throughout time, due to the changing perspectives of those who read them, so do their meanings change as they are translated. Translations of texts and revisions of texts, especially ones that occur after time has passed since the initial production of the original text, offer academics today a trove of information. From examining the way in which a translation or revision is done and the diction which is used, it is possible to begin building an understanding not only of the values a society or community holds dear, but also an understanding of the way a culture presented literature to its people, and an understanding of the way in which literature was consumed.
Modern-day translations of The Canterbury Tales or Hamlet may reveal something about our culture today, and Anglo-Saxon translations of Latin texts may reveal something about Anglo-Saxon England. The written word is the most prevalent way information has been passed through history, and as each translator approaches a text, his or her culture will be impressed upon the written word, modifying the text in order, firstly, to be more relateable to those who will consume it, and secondly, to manipulate the take-away a population will get from a text. This application of the study of revisions and translations is vital to the literary field, as approaching a text within a proper historical context uncovers and reveals boundless information not only about the characters within a text, but also about the writers, the translators, and their audiences.


Translations and revisions of a text provide academics with a fresh, historical lens with which to view and interpret said text. Utilizing this historical lens provided by translators and revisionists further allows academics to uncover specific purposes behind translation. Ultimately, applying this approach to ancient and medieval literature is vital to literary study, as it is possible to then reveal important, underlying historical motives, which can then help readers to decode, understand, and properly apply texts.