(extended deadline) Polyglot Pages in Early Modern England (c.1500-1700)

deadline for submissions: 
March 20, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Charlotte Coffin / Université Paris-Est Créteil

Polyglot Pages in Early Modern England (c.1500-1700)

The deadline for submissions has been extended to Monday, March 20


Editors: Agnès Lafont - Charlotte Coffin

Publisher: Brepols

Series: Polyglot Encounters in Early Modern Britain, https://www.brepols.net/series/peemb

Deadline for submitting chapter proposals (400 words):March 20, 2023

Deadline for essay submission (6000-8000 words): September 15, 2023


Chapters are sought for the fourth volume in the “Polyglot Encounters in Early Modern Britain” Brepols series. Following collections dedicated to literary communities, travel narratives, and cross-Channel circulations, Polyglot Pages will focus on the materiality of multilingual texts. It aims to interrogate how printed and manuscript pages make polyglossia visible and legible, composing a complex yet coherent discourse for early modern English readers. 


The volume will rely on analyses of layout, font, interlineation, parallel texts, marginal notes, reader annotations, etc. to explore the material forms of polyglossia and the ways in which they convey meaning in books that circulated in England (Armstrong, Stenner). It also proposes to probe more specifically the articulation of linguistic plurality and semiotic heterogeneity by paying special attention to illustrated texts. While typographic resources give polyglossia a visual form on the page, illustrated multilingual texts raise new questions as to how images and languages may interact, the additional hybridity enabling (or not) greater legibility or translatability. 


Emblem books are a specific point of interest because of their systematic combination of title, image and text, their circulation across Europe in multiple translations (with new or recycled illustrations), and their multilingual versions – like the three polyglot editions of Otto van Veen’s Amorum Emblemata published in Antwerp in 1608, which include a version in English, Latin and Italian. Parallel translations of classical and vernacular texts are another potential topic: placing side by side two, three, or even more languages, they were a typographical feat – and occasionally required European collaborations among scholars and printers, as in the case of the London Polyglot Bible (1655-1657) compiled by Brian Walton, which printed the Scriptures in nine languages and included several full-page engravings.


From a historical perspective, the volume aims to study the material modalities of polyglossia in order to define their role as vectors for the circulation of continental culture in early modern England, and as traces of the “co-presence of cultures” (Stierle). From a literary perspective, it seeks to reflect on the dynamic processes at work in polyglot pages, paying attention not only to writers’ and printers’ strategies but also to readers’ engagement with the texts and to their participation in the construction of meaning. Women’s role as producers and consumers of polyglot pages could be investigated, taking into account their access to books and the language education they received. A unilingual text written by a woman may also become multilingual in the course of future editions, like Georgette de Montenay’s Emblemes ou devises chrestiennes (1567/1571), printed simultaneously in Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, English and Dutch as well as the French original by Johann Carl Unckel (Frankfurt,  1619). We would like the volume to address polyglot strategies in the pages of repositories of knowledge – emblem books, commonplace books, dictionaries, language manuals, mythographical treatises, and other compendia that circulated across borders. Saunders suggests that emblem books might be transnational, based on a meta-language shared by readers across Europe. On the other hand, Anne Coldiron’s analysis of Thomas Watson’s Hekatompathia (1584) shows how he “fragments, decontextualizes, and radically recontextualizes the bits and pieces he translates – acting as a polyglot cento writer, or as a maker of poetic mosaics, smashing up poems and recycling the bits into his own planned varicoloured patterns” (Coldiron, 1996, p. 9). Do otherpolyglot pages in England create a transcultural effect, or adjust content to English expectations, or constantly negotiate the “cacophonous” influence of “the insistent foreign texts” (Coldiron, 2015, pp. 183–5)?


We welcome papers related (but not limited) to the following topics:

- the specific interplay of texts and images on polyglot pages

- typographic resources and the production of meaning

- coherence and fragmentation on the page

- the articulation of polyglossia and genre

- the dynamic engagement of readers with polyglot texts 

- interpretive games

- the particular polyglot strategies used by women writers and readers 


Please send a 400-word abstract and a short bio to agnes.lafont@univ-montp3.frand charlotte.coffin@u-pec.fr by March 20, 2023.


Works Cited:

  • Armstrong, Guyda, “Coding Continental: Information Design in Sixteenth-Century English Vernacular Language Manuals and Translations”, Renaissance Studies, 29.1 (2015), 78–102.

  • Coldiron, A. E. B., “Watson’s Hekatompathia and Renaissance Lyric Translation”, Translation and Literature, 5.1 (1996), 3–25.

  • –––––, Printers without Borders: Translation and Textuality in the Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

  • Saunders, Alison, “French Emblem Books or European Emblem Books: Transnational Publishing in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 61.2 (1999), 415–27.

  • Stenner, Rachel, The Typographic Imaginary in Early Modern English Literature (New York: Routledge, 2019).

  • Stierle, Karlheinz, “Translatio Studii and Renaissance: From Vertical to Horizontal Translation”, in Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser, ed., The Translatability of Cultures: Figurations of the Space Between (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 55–67.