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By the second half of the 19th century, activities to encourage the popularisation of science had accelerated as scientific ideas, theories and discoveries were presented to a wider public in ever more diverse forms. The exchange of scientific knowledge across languages and cultures also gained momentum as publishers competed fiercely with each other to produce the first translation in a given language of a scientific bestseller from abroad. Focusing primarily on the multiple German translations of Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage, I explore how the tensions implicit in retranslation, but also the creative possibilities that it embodies, have shaped and reshaped the public presentation of scientific knowledge and of its practitioners from the 19th century through to the present day.

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About the Speaker

Dr Alison E. Martin completed her BA in Modern Languages and her PhD in German at the University of Cambridge and has an MA in Modern Dutch Studies (with specialisms in Practical and Literary Translation) from University College London. She holds a Habilitation in English and Comparative Literature from the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (Germany). Her main research interests and publications lie in translation studies, non-fictional travel writing, scientific writing and the role of women in the translation and transmission of scientific knowledge. She is the author of Moving Scenes: The Aesthetics of German Travel Writing on England, 1783–1830 (Legenda, 2008); her second book focuses on the translation and reception of Alexander von Humboldt’s travel writing in nineteenth-century Britain. She is currently working at the University of Reading.