Monday, February 20, 2012

Call for Participants: Roots & Routes 2012 Summer Institute at the University of Toronto

Roots & Routes II: Translation, Mediation, and Circulation in the Premodern Mediterranean
A Summer Institute at the University of Toronto Scarborough, April 30-May 11, 2012

Application deadline: March 1, 2012

Dear colleagues and students,

We are delighted to announce the second of three annual summer institutes at the University of Toronto on knowledge production in the premodern Mediterranean and in the Digital Age. This year's theme is translation, mediation, and circulation. We hope you can join us! Please keep reading for details on the institute, its format, and how to apply, or go directly to the application website:

Format: The Roots & Routes Summer Institute aims to facilitate a more coherent and explicitly transdisciplinary analytical framework for Mediterranean studies using digital tools and methodologies. The institute, hosted by the University of Toronto Scarborough, features a combination of individual presentations, seminar-style discussions of shared materials, hands-on workshops on a variety of digital tools, and small-group project development sessions. Participants will explore new formats for conducting research and presenting their findings. By teaming up with information technology specialists and digital scholarship experts working outside the Mediterranean, participants will have a chance to develop long-term collaborative projects to enhance their ongoing individual research agendas.In order to maximize the potential for future collaboration and broad, thematic conversations, groups will be composed of participants from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and at different stages of their scholarly careers, from senior scholars to advanced undergraduates. Participants are encouraged to engage each other’s materials, bring insights from their own field of expertise to a broader methodological and conceptual discussion, and begin to draw out connections between what are often seen as disparate fields of knowledge.

Annual theme: This second annual summer institute will focus on Translation, Mediation, and Circulation. Specifically, it seeks to address processes of cultural mediation in the Mediterranean by attending to the ways in which language served as a central site for the elaboration and contestation of sociocultural boundaries from the eighth century to the Scientific Revolution. Participants, drawn from Toronto area-based faculty and graduate students as well as internationally, will consider the various practices involved in the transmission, adaptation, and contestation of scholarly knowledge across boundaries, and experiment with different forms of “translation” within and between different media and genres. In this context, special attention will be paid to digital technologies and the potential synergies between textual and multimedia digital humanities projects.

Application process: Your application should include a current CV and a brief proposal (up to 500 words), which discusses your current research and a specific object you would like to present and further develop digitally. This object may be a text, an artifact, a database, or a combination of any of the above. Once accepted, you will be asked to compile a bibliography of relevant readings to share with others in advance, as well as to install and become familiar with a few digital tools (e.g. Zotero), to allow us to explore more advanced features and digital skills at the institute itself. Participants are not expected to have prior programming knowledge or other advanced digital skills, but should be genuinely interested in the potential of digital tools to challenge and transform current research practices. 
Proposals may address (but are not limited to) one or more of the following five clusters of questions:
  1. What role did institutions such as chancelleries, academies, universities, and schools, play in developing, defining, and standardizing “official” vernacular languages and in distinguishing them from other language varieties? What role did such institutions play in processes of language instruction and socialization across metropolitan and peripheral settings? How were these institutions themselves shaped by the range of (often multilingual) milieus in which they operated?

  2. To what extent, in the contexts of colonial expansion, imperial consolidation and inter-imperial rivalry, did specialized cadres—including diplomatic interpreters, commercial brokers, missionaries, court scribes, notaries, lexicographers, and philologists—develop to regulate linguistic and cultural difference?

  3. What language ideologies and practices emerged in the inherently bilingual contexts of imperial borderlands, such as medieval Iberia and North Africa, Venetian Dalmatia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Ottoman Bosnia?

  4. How were linguistic and cultural differences objectified and mapped onto one another through a range of genres, from court records and commercial manuals to travelogues and polyglot comedies?

  5. How do the histories of premodern translation, mediation, and circulation speak to current debates about knowledge production in the digital age and the role of scholarly networks in the acquisition and dissemination of texts and technologies?
The deadline for applications is March 1, 2012. Applications must be submitted online at announcements will be made by March 15. For more information about the Institute, check out the Q&A section at and the institute's website (which will be updated periodically between now and May to reflect the evolving program and roster of workshops). Please contact the organizers by email ( for further information or to get involved in the organizing process.

 **Travel bursaries and full room and board are available for out-of-town graduate student participants.**
 The Roots & Routes summer institute is generously supported by the Connaught Fund at the University of Toronto

We look forward to hearing from you!
Natalie Rothman
On behalf of the Roots & Routes Summer Institute organizers
E. Natalie Rothman
Assistant Professor of History
University of Toronto

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