A nice recap and some photos from last week’s Draper speaker series event!

Last Friday, the Draper Program hosted the latest event in its speaker series, “Interdisciplinarity in Today’s Academy,” featuring Rebecca J. Scott, Professor of History and Law at the University of Michigan, and Thomas Scott-Railton, a translator whose publications include English editions of works by Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault.  Scott and Scott-Railton discussed the temptations and the traps faced by historians and translators dealing with archival materials, and the different approach each has to take to their material.  Scott described a common temptation faced by historians:  the desire to see themselves as novelists, writing the lives of their characters, when both the information they find and the information they cannot find may resist the arc of the story they want to tell.  Scott-Railton described the difficulty of translating materials written not only in a different language but in a time and a cultural context that are entirely different from those of the translator’s audience.  How, for example, does one translate historical documents that discuss topics that today even lay people describe in terms borrowed from the language of disciplines like psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc., when these disciplines simply did not exist when the historical documents were produced?

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