Past Event

Jeanette L. Patterson on the Reader in the Bible Historiale

March 22, 2018
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

The Columbia University Seminar on Medieval Studies will take place on Thursday, March 22 at 5:30pm in Faculty House. Jeanette L. Patterson will discuss "The Translator and the Skeptic: Constructing the Reader in the Bible historiale."


The talk will be followed by dinner at Faculty House at 7:00pm. All those who wish to dine with Jeanette Patterson should contact Carly Quijano at by Monday, March 19. Dinner is a fixed buffet menu, which costs $30 per person. Payment is only by check made out to “Columbia University.”

Guyart des Moulins’s 1295 Bible historiale, a translation of parts of the Latin Bible with commentary from the Historia Scholastica, quickly became the predominant Bible in French and remained so for over 200 years. Despite its promise to tell “nothing but pure truth” and to translate scriptures and commentary “word for word,” Guyart’s translation refashions the text for a particular kind of reader formed and informed by contemporary art, theatre, and romances. His narrative choices reflect norms of vernacular storytelling, engaging with the prior knowledge and perceived expectations of imagined readers. In this paper, I would like to consider some instances in which the translator self-consciously addresses an anticipated clash with reader expectations and employs a variety of strategies to mitigate that discord, whether by filling in missing details, rearranging elements of the text, or referencing familiar places, objects and scenes to help readers better situate and inhabit the stories and to participate in truth-making through the activation of memory, will, and imagination.