Professor Michelle Bolduc
Professor in Translation Studies
Michelle Bolduc, Professor in Translation Studies at Exeter, is an internationally recognized scholar of Translation Studies and Comparative Medieval Literature (French, Occitan, and Italian), and has published extensively on medieval literature (translatio) as well as on modern rhetoric--the New Rhetoric Project--and its translation. Under the direction of Barbara K. Altmann and F. Regina Psaki, she took a PhD in Comparative Literature with a specialization in Medieval Literatures from the University of Oregon; she has held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Arizona.
In 2014 Michelle was awarded a two-year National Endowment of the Humanities Scholarly Editions and Translations Award ($116,000), a prestigious grant funded by the United States federal government. She has also received University-level Certification [qualification] in Comparative Literature from France’s Ministère de l’Education nationale [French National Education Ministry].
Michelle has served as an Executive Committee Member of the Occitan Discussion Group of the Modern Language Association (2011-2015), and as its President (2014), as well as Secretary-Treasurer of the Société Guilhem IX (2007-2009).
Rooted in the medieval notion of translatio and the applied activity of translation, Michelle’s current research lies at the intersection of translation and rhetoric, straddling the boundaries of translation studies, the translatio(n) of modern rhetoric and philosophy, and medieval literature. She is simultaneously completing two book-length projects.
The first, entitled “Translation and the Re(dis)covery of Rhetoric,” presents a diachronic case study of how translation is the means by which rhetoric, as the art of reasoning, becomes a part of a lineage of—and a resource for—an ethics of civic discourse. Moving from Classical Latin and medieval Romance languages (Old French and medieval Italian) to modern French, this work is transcultural and multilingual. It posits a diachronic dialogue, showing how translation—as practice and as theory, via the medieval topos of translatio [the transfer of knowledge]—serves as the vehicle for the transfer of rhetoric as an art of argumentation and persuasion from Classical Greece and Rome to modern Paris and Brussels by way of medieval France/Italy. At the heart of this book lies Brunetto Latini, who in the 1260s not only translated Cicero’s De inventione twice, into French (Trésor) and Italian (Rettorica), but also effected a translatio of it: Cicero’s rhetoric, which since Late Antiquity had become synonymous with stylistic exercises in Latin eloquence, becomes in Latini’s hands once again useful for political and civic matters in the vernacular. Latini’s translation of] De inventione will resonate in the twentieth century, radically changing the fate of rhetoric, considered by many at the time to be a musty, meaningless art devoted to figures of style. Jean Paulhan, the long-time editor of the Nouvelle Revue Française, will translate and publish portions of Latini’s rhetoric (from the Trésor) twice: first as an article in the January 1937 issue of Mesures, and again as the culminating appendix to his landmark 1941 Fleurs de Tarbes, ou La Terreur dans les lettres. Paulhan, who seeks to re-establish rhetoric as a field of use to literature and literary criticism, is equally anxious about the state of Europe, which was founded, he writes, upon Ciceronian rhetoric. The effect of Paulhan’s translation of Latini will be even more profound on the field of philosophy and rhetoric. In their search for a way to reason about value judgments in the wake of the Second World War, Belgian philosophers Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca will come upon Paulhan’s translation of Latini’s translation in the 1941 Fleurs. This is for them a startling revelation: their reading of Paulhan’s translation of Latini’s translation of Cicero reintroduces them to the ancient notion of rhetoric as an art of argumentation. As a result, they create the New Rhetoric Project, in which they assert that rhetoric, rather than the logical positivism of contemporary science and philosophy, might offer a humane response to the postwar crisis of reason.
The second work-in-progress extends into the practice of translation, with two volumes dedicated to the translation of and commentary on the work of Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca’s New Rhetoric Project. With co-director David Frank (University of Oregon, US) on the, she was awarded a National Endowment of the Humanities Scholarly Editions and Translations Award ($116,000; 2014-2016) to publish “Rendez-vous with Rhetoric: New Translations and Commentary on the Writings of Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca” (University of Notre Dame Press). Although Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s magnum opus, Traité de l’argumentation: La nouvelle rhétorique (1958) was translated into English in 1969, hundreds of articles which explain key ideas of the Traité remain only in French. Our work will provide English-speaking scholars with access to these important philosophical texts; it examines in detail their “rhetorical turn”, and the important philosophical influences on, and significance of, their New Rhetoric Project, based on these translations and on significant archival work done at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. This work has created a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Oregon, Université Libre de Bruxelles and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington D.C.
Professor Michelle Bolduc welcomes enquiries about postgraduate supervision (MRes, MPhil, PhD) in the fields of Translation Studies, thirteenth-century French, Occitan, and Italian Literature, and Modern Rhetoric (specifically the New Rhetoric Project).
She has taught a wide-ranging number of courses in Translation Studies as well as in French and Comparative Literature, including MA-level translation theory and applied French to English translation (specialized and literary), both of which she developed for online course delivery. She has also taught graduate seminars thematically related to the topos of translatio. Having taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels, she offers teaching expertise in several additional areas: comparative medieval literature, and European (especially French) intellectual culture—literature, philosophy, and the arts—of both the Middle Ages/Renaissance and the early twentieth century.
Michelle has been recognized for her innovative teaching, having been awarded a fellowship in the University of Wisconsin system-wide Teaching Fellowship Program and invited to the Wakonse Conference on College Teaching sponsored by the Arizona Board of Regents. Since 2012 she has also participated in a French pedagogical project (‘Voix d’Aujourd’hui’), bringing poetry and translation into high schools in Brittany, France, and thus having impact on a non-academic audience.