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2017 Erasmus Lecture: Anne Coldiron

October 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


This talk considers how textual producers in the era of early printing reconstructed the complex, powerful marks of medieval auctoritas for expanding English readerships.  Beyond overt paratextual statements in English books, which are telling enough, we find rich visual and material signals of both authority and authorship in early printed English books. Printers and translators (as well as sometimes patrons, buyers, and readers) clearly sought to transmit, and sometimes to subvert or redirect, not only ideas but also genres and forms, as well as the implicit material and visual signs that were so well developed in late manuscript codices.  But the new means of production, new economic realities in the book trades, and new social contexts meant that such things as the medieval accessus ad auctores or the exegetical format could be reshaped and redeployed to new purposes, as paradoxically conservative innovations.

The illustrating case study for this talk is a major, 15th-century French author of allegory, royal biography, political theory, lyric poetry, educational treatises, historiography, and mythography, whose work was often translated, printed, and reprinted in England beginning in 1478, very soon after Caxton began printing in Westminster. The Renaissance reception of this author exemplifies a thoughtful, selective Englishing of the ‘medieval’ in print. The Tudors, for instance, seem to have embraced the auctoritas of Christine de Pizan, but they evidently saw her less as a proto-feminist author than as an author trusted in many advisory genres: mythographer, political theorist, moralist, and military historian.

Anne Coldiron is the Berry Chair in English Literature at the University of St Andrews (Scotland), where she specializes in late-medieval and Renaissance literature, with an emphasis on translation, early printing, French-English literary relations, poetry and poetics.

Her first book issues a strong challenge to traditional literary periodization and canons by examining the large, tri-lingual oeuvre of a 15th-century French poet, Charles of Orleans. Her second book, English Printing, Verse Translation, and the Battle of the Sexes, 1476-1557 (2009), treats popular verse translations of French gender discourses that appeared in the formative early decades of printing in England. Her new book, Printers Without Borders (Cambridge UP, 2015), studies the early English printers’ and translators’ complex, resistant appropriations of foreign texts.

Coldiron has held two NEH research fellowships, in 1998-1999 and in 2010. She held a Folger Shakespeare Library long-term fellowship in 2011. She has won Folger short-term fellowships and an ATLAS grant, and in 2002-3 she was a Kluge fellow in the Library of Congress.

Coldiron’s invited lectures include the Library of Congress (DC); Oxford University (UK), the NIDA Institute’s Translation Studies Research Symposium (New York), the Folger Shakespeare Library (DC), the University of Connecticut, the Université de Paris, the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) of France; University of Pennsylvania; and UCLA.

In 2014-15 she served as Director of the Year-Long Colloquium in Renaissance/Early Modern Translation at the Folger Institute, Washington DC.

In Spring 2016, she worked as Visiting Distinguished Professor, University of St Andrews, Scotland. In July 2016, she delivered a keynote lecture at the international SHARP conference in Paris. In fall 2016, she gave a keynote lecture on Renaissance translators at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London with invited lectures at the University of Bristol and the University of York (UK).


October 5, 2017
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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