Allison Margaret Bigelow deposited Gained, Lost, Missed, Ignored: Vernacular Scientific Translations from Agricola’s Germany to Herbert Hoover’s California in the group CLCS 18th-Century on MLA Commons 1 year, 10 months ago
For the past twenty years, scholars of world and global history and literature have shown that the early modern world was a complex, entangled place. And yet, by emphasizing connection, such work at times overlooks the many separations that drove the engines of global early modernity: transoceanic slave trades, tribute labor, and the economic divergences that produced and reinforced such systems. This article argues for translation as a method to study connection and separation in the making of early modern worlds. It charts the reception of Georgius Agricola’s De re metallica (1556), which was translated from Latin into German, Italian, Spanish, and Mandarin in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but only appeared in English in 1912, when mining engineer and future US president Herbert Hoover and his wife, geologist Lou Clark Hoover, published their work. By studying local and global contexts of colonialism, power, and scientific racism that influenced the translation and nontranslation of Agricola’s book at different moments in this 350-year period, this article shows how translation both creates and divides global communities of scientific readers and how it can help to rethink historical and literary periodization of the early modern era.