Between Worlds: Cultural Mixture and Translation (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2000 faculty weekend seminar led by Natalie Zemon Davis.

Cultural mixture in social experience, consciousness, and writing is often analysed in terms of polarities (assimilation/authenticity, domination/resistance), concealed hegemonies, or monochromatic melting pots. This seminar looked at the character of mixture more closely, exploring the interweaving of different strands of language, sensibility, and values in the early modern period. How did men and women negotiate the contrasting worlds to which they belonged? What strategies of identity-formation were used by those who moved across boundaries? What cultural resources did they have at their disposal for living a "mixed" life? Is there a descriptive language more precise than "hybridity," "patchwork," and "métissage"? Participants are invited to present their research on individuals, communities, and/or texts from early modern Europe (including Europe's Jewish communities), from Islamic societies, and from the indigenous and settler communities of the Americas (such as Katerina Tekakwitha in Quebec and Poma de Ayala in Peru). They read samples of each other's work in advance of the weekend session. In addition, participants read an exemplary text from the past and a few interpretive essays to provide a common frame for discussion.

Director: Natalie Zemon Davis is currently Adjunct Professor of History and Senior Fellow in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Her many works include Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives (1995), Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth Century France (1987), The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), and Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975).