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Translational Traditions and Imaginaries: A Comparative History of Petrarch’s Canzoniere in French and English

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FR and ENG Petrarch (Translational Traditions and Imaginaries: A Comparative History of Petrarch’s Canzoniere in French and English)

Reporting period: 2021-09-30 to 2022-09-29

Being a complex, pan-European literary movement, the Petrarchan tradition constitutes a privileged perspective for understanding the origins of modern European identities and cultures. The first overall objective of the project is to map the interconnections between the early modern translations of Petrarch’s “Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta” in French and English. The first Specific Objective (SO1) is to map specific Petrarchan traditions, in large part derived from the ‘imaginaries’ developed in major French and English translations. The second Specific Objective (SO2) is to trace an English ‘translation tradition’, similar to that identified into French. The third Specific Objective (SO3) is to examine the influence of commentaries on the translation imaginaries and their ramifications in the French and English worlds. The action showed the full potential of the theory of the imaginaries of translation, and it was also the occasion for implementing the theoretical aspects of the research project.
During the first two years of the project, according to the SO1 and SO2, the action was focused on methodological issues, and the establishment of the corpus including all the early modern translations of Petrarch’s “Fragmenta” in French and English. Prof. Marie-Alice Belle mentored theoretical aspects of translation studies, taught network mapping techniques (e.g. Palladio, RawGaphs, etc.), and supervise the analysis of some of the main English and French translators of the main corpus. Previous doctoral and postdoctoral research on French translators has been massively implemented, and complemented with deep examination of the English Renaissance. This was also possible thanks to several training sessions and workshops at the University of Montreal (Digital Humanities, Early Modern Studies) and McGill University (Early Modern English Studies). During the outgoing phase, the researcher also benefitted from pedagogical training, and had the opportunity to teach a course on “Comparative and Literary Translation Studies” thus applying the acquired pedagogical and research knowledge to a series of lessons in a Department that is specialized in the field, the Département de linguistique et de traduction (UdeM). The return phase at the University of Oslo was rather dedicated to the implementation of the theoretical and comparative framework of the action. The researcher was thus able to establish several connections between the early modern French and English translators of Petrarch’s “Fragmenta”, and he highly implemented the theoretical and methodological tools of the project, especially the theory of the imaginaries of translation.

The first stages of the action were dedicated to the identification of the primary corpus of early modern French and English translations of Petrarch’s “Fragmenta” by specifically focusing on translated texts which stand in a close relation with the source texts (SO1-SO2). Such findings made it possible to publish articles and achieve comprehensive research addressing all the French translators of Petrarch’s “Fragmenta”. English translators are, on the contrary, the subject of other publication projects (articles and one collection).
The early research findings of the action were the starting point for the identification and examination of the most important early modern ‘translation imaginaries’ as well as their literary influences in subsequent eras (SO1, SO3). This examination has been complemented by an inquiry that addresses the influence of commentaries on the ‘translation traditions’ (SO3). The research was also complemented and enhanced by network mapping techniques, (e.g. Palladio, Gephi), data visualization tools (e.g. RawGaphs), and lexicographical analysis (
The action was also crucial for implementing the theoretical and methodological tools of the projects, especially when it comes to apply the theory of the imaginaries of translation to other research fields from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Wide dissemination of the research outputs has been possible thanks to diverse opportunities, by publishing articles, achieving a first monograph and organizing / taking part in academic events such as those organised by/at: Modern Language Association (MLA), Canadian Association of Translation Studies, Université de Montréal, Renaissance Society of America, Maison Française d’Oxford, and University of Bologna), Norwegian Institute in Rome, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Catholic University in Milan, University of Catania, University of Bologna, University of Ferrara, Universitas Mercatorum.
The project shows the full potential of the study of translations of Petrarch’s “Fragmenta”. The research outputs demonstrated the effectiveness of the theoretical framework based on the theory of the imaginaries of translation. A study of literature specifically focused on translation reveals all the complexity and richness of "national literatures". The research focus on translation, translative practices, and translingual processes allows discovering "minor" authors that have never been analysed, or studying well-known authors from a completely new point of view.