Graduate Student Invitation Series Lecture: "Whose Aristotle? Latinate Knowledge and Vernacular Translation in Medieval Italy"


Location: 715 Hesburgh Library (Medieval Institute Main Reading Room) and broadcast live on YouTube (View on map )

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Each year, the Medieval Institute graduate students organize a lecture, inviting a scholar to speak and conduct a subsequent graduate seminar; Professor Eugenio Refini will be the sixteenth speaker in the series

About the Talk

A famous tale from the Novellino (one of the most prominent collections of novelle before Boccaccio’s Decameron) ridicules a philosopher who endeavors to translate science and philosophy into the vernacular. By staging the anxieties connected with the vulgarization of knowledge, the novella seizes upon a phenomenon—vernacular—whose significance to Medieval and Renaissance culture can hardly be overstated. While the "philosopher" in the story is unnamed, his fate resonates with the dynamics that informed the vernacular reception of the "Philosopher" par excellence: Aristotle. By exploring the ways in which the "Master of those who know" was appropriated by vernacular translators and their readers between the age of Dante and the dawn of Humanism, this talk argues that translation offered a productive—yet not uncontested—space of interaction for competing linguistic traditions and cultural agendas.

About the Speaker

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Prof. Eugenio Refini

Eugenio Refini (Ph.D., Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), is an associate professor of Italian Studies at New York University. Prior to joining NYU, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Warwick and he taught at Johns Hopkins University. His work focuses on classical reception, translation, early modern drama and the intersections of music and literature. His recent publications include the monograph The Vernacular Aristotle: Translation as Reception in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (Cambridge UP, 2020) and articles in Renaissance Quarterly, The Italianist, and Romance Quarterly. Refini’s next monograph, Staging the Soul: Allegorical Drama as Spiritual Practice in Baroque Italy, is forthcoming with Legenda (2022). He has received fellowships from Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti, the Harry Ransom Research Center, the Bodleian Library, the Warburg Institute, and the NEH Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

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