our words make worlds

Translating Wisdom: Interfaith Dialogue in the Medieval Mediterranean

*NOTICE: It is with great regret we write that, owing to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, this event has been cancelled. We are hoping to find an alternative date and will update this page as soon as possible*

Medieval wisdom literature—collections of exemplary tales, anthologies of proverbs and sayings of philosophers—stands at the confluence of East and West. It crossed religious frontiers via translation, adaptation and imitation and stimulated literary creativity and experimentation not only in Arabic and Hebrew, but also in Judeo-Arabic, Latin and the Romance languages. Wisdom literature lays claim to authority in large part because it aspires to teach values that are thought to be universally relevant, regardless of socio-economic status, religious affiliation or cultural tradition. Indeed, this belief makes this kind of literature suitable for translation across religious divides.

The workshop will bring together specialists in the topic. We will explore the range of translation methods and styles to shed light on the ways in which translators negotiate between preserving supposedly universal values with those that need to be adapted for a specific community. By emphasising ‘cultural traffic’—peoples and texts in movement— the workshop will throw into relief not only the dialogue between Jews, Muslims and Christians, but also where they part company, for although translations are enabled by shared ethical systems, they also strive to preserve the religious identities inherent in the sacred texts of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.


Prof Julian Weiss (King’s College London)

Dr David Torollo (King’s College London)

Dr Isabel Toral (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Dr Barry Taylor (British Library, London)

Dr Rachel Scott (King’s College, London)

Dr Michael Rand (Cambridge University)

Prof Marie-Christine Varol (INALCO, Paris)


If interested, please send an email to david.torollo@kcl.ac.uk explaining your interest in the workshop and how you would benefit from it.