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Science in the Vernacular: Translating Galileo

Dr Mark Davie (formerly Head of Modern Languages at Exeter). Discussant: Dr Jonathan Bradbury (Exeter)

The speaker – Mark Davie, formerly Head of Modern Languages at Exeter and Italian editor of the Modern Language Review, is the translator, with William R. Shea, of Galileo’s Selected Writings (Oxford World’s Classics, 2012). An Honorary Fellow at Exeter, he is currently working on a complete translation of Galileo’s Dialogue, his argument in support of the Copernican model of the universe, also for Oxford World’s Classics. Discussant: Dr Jonathan Bradbury (University of Exeter) The event – Galileo’s reputation as a leading intellectual figure in Europe was established by his short book Sidereus nuncius, describing his observation of the heavens using the newly invented telescope, written in Latin and published in Venice in 1610. In the same year he resigned his university chair at Padua and accepted the patronage of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, moving to Florence where he remained for the rest of his life. From this point onwards all his major works were written in Italian, i.e. Tuscan, vernacular. With his decision to abandon Latin in favour of the vernacular Galileo effectively translated scientific discourse from the academic world to a princely court. Mark’s paper will consider Galileo’s reasons for making this change, its consequences for scientific writing in a modern European language, and the challenges it presents to a translator of Galileo into modern English.

Event details


Queens Building LT4.2