Universiteit Leiden

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Medieval and Early Modern Studies (c. 600-1800)

Cultural Translation and Transmission

A core interest of our cluster members concerns the transmission, transformation and (interlingual and intermedial) translation in medieval and early modern art, literature and media from diachronic and synchronic perspectives (in time, space, and between media).

Researchers analyse processes of cultural transmission, transfer and appropriation by looking at medieval and early modern art and literature through a diachronic lens. Methodologies and theories from, for example, memory studies, adaptation studies and (classical) reception studies aid them in thinking about the practices and stakes of uses of the past represented by these works. Within the confines of our (long) time period, cluster members challenge the traditional dichotomy between medieval and early modern (or Renaissance) by focusing on both continuities and discontinuities. At the same time, researchers cross the borders of our cluster period, when they identify themes from a more distant past (e.g., Antiquity) in the works they study, and have an equal interest in the reception and transmission of medieval and early modern art and literature in later times (e.g., Medievalism).

When they take a more synchronic perspective, MEM researchers focus on the connections, translations and interactions between the arts, literature and media from an interdisciplinary perspective. How are themes and genres translated from one language to the other, or from one medium to the other? What are the differences and similarities between literary and visual genres? How do text and image complement each other? In answering such questions researchers apply methods and theories from (cultural) translation studies and use concepts such as intertextuality and intermediality. As it crosses disciplinary, chronological and geographical boundaries, this type of research takes a comparative and global perspective.

Landscape with Roman ruins
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