Hannah Weaver

Columbia University

Hannah Weaver’s current book project, Latinizing the Vernacular: Retrotranslation in Medieval Europe, 1200-1500, uncovers an unexplored site of language contact and exchange. From 1200 to 1500, a strange phenomenon kept happening across Europe: certain works would be translated from Latin to a European vernacular and then, surprisingly, back to Latin –– even as the original Latin source remained available. These retrotranslations demonstrate vibrant interaction between languages that endured long past the moment when the vernacular supposedly superseded Latin and began long before the humanist reclamation of Latin as an aesthetic choice. They bear witness to a desire to literalize the wide-ranging circulation of texts, people, and ideas in this period through the act of translation itself. This project offers a vision of linguistic cross-pollination and mutual influence that will revise our understanding of the role of the vernacular and the function of supralocal languages.

A native Midwesterner, Hannah Weaver is now Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York, where she writes and teaches about the literature of medieval Europe, particularly the regions now known as England and France. She asks questions about how the physical forms that stories take can inform us about how medieval people thought.

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