Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 82, Number 3, July 2021 




Conceptions of Tolerance in Antiquity and Late Antiquity
Joseph Streeter

The focus of this essay is on ancient and late antique views on the tolerance of insult. It explores the honor-centered structure of ancient and late antique thinking on this subject, and it draws out the implications of Christian attitudes toward tolerance of insult for the possibility of religious tolerance in late antiquity. The author concludes by contrasting the late antique conceptions of tolerance with contemporary conceptions, and suggests that the contrasts helps us to see some of the salient conditions of contemporary attitudes toward religious tolerance and freedom of religion.

Anxieties of Transmission: Rabbinic Responsa and Early Modern “Print Culture”
Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg

The Talmud states: “God precedes afflictions with their remedy.” But what if that remedy exacerbates the affliction? Early modern Jewish culture faced precisely this dilemma: A growing scholarly anxiety—transmitting and mastering crucial legal texts—was preceded by its solution, print. Print, however, simultaneously exacerbated the affliction. My article analyzes this dynamic's development in Jewish scholarly culture around the printing of rabbinic responsa in the mid-sixteenth century. Across early modern Europe, scholars grappled with simultaneously promising and overwhelming prospects of expanding textual corpora. This study illuminates shared dynamics of early modern knowledge, suggesting new approaches to print culture.

The First Conceptualization of Terrorism: Tallien, Roederer, and the “System of Terror” (August 1794)
Ami-Jacques Rapin

While it is generally known that the word terrorism originated in the French Revolution, the exact circumstances of its emergence are much less known. First used publicly by Tallien, the neologism had actually been shaped by Pierre-Louis Roederer. From the outset, the latter had given it a conceptual scope by integrating it into a reflection on the characteristics of the use of terror for political purposes.

The Superhuman Origins of Human Dignity: Kantorowicz’s Dante
Nicholas Heron

This article aims to clarify the stakes of the reading of Dante that concludes Ernst Kantorowicz’s 1957 book The King’s Two Bodies. It does so by reconstructing the relevant argumentative contexts for appraising it, starting from the account of the sovereign individual that Kantorowicz developed in his 1940s lecture courses at the University of California, Berkeley. It argues that, for Kantorowicz, Dante’s articulation of an exclusively human dignity constitutes a decisive chapter in the larger genealogy of the “superman” idea he begins to trace in that forum.

Translation in Action: Global Intellectual History and Early Modern Diplomacy
Lisa Hellman, Birgit Tremml-Werner

Intellectual and diplomatic history have to a surprising degree evolved as separate historiographies, but they can be combined through a theme crucial to both: translation. Translation enabled intercultural negotiation but could also bring about inaccuracies, misunderstandings, or consciously skewed representations. This issue argues that a multitude of actors can be understood as “translators,” that the power relations between types of actors, languages, and forms of communication was dramatically asymmetrical, and that gaps between representation and reality had real and dramatic political effects. On-the-ground translation practices thus illustrate how the international political system long rested on local developments and global encounters.

Multilingual Foreign Affairs: Translation and Diplomatic Agency in Eighteenth-Century Stockholm
Sophie Holm

The new diplomatic history embraces an interest in the role of language in early modern diplomacy, especially in transcultural contexts. This article addresses the need for translation in inter-European relations by focusing on the connections between translation and diplomacy in mid-eighteenth century Stockholm. It shows that practices of translation had a real effect on who could engage in diplomacy. Moreover, through a focus on a less formal diplomatic communication, it highlights the multilingualism and absence of a lingua franca during an era of presumed francophonia in Europe, thus nuancing the idea of a singular European diplomatic culture.

Drawing the Lines: Translation and Diplomacy in the Central Asian Borderlands
Lisa Hellman

Empires and nation states alike used maps to practically and discursively construct territory. Such maps were often intercultural productions, and thus illustrate the role of translation in diplomacy. This article analyzes border-making between and of the Russian, Qing, and Dzungar Empires in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, thus regionalizing Western Europe. This focus shows, first, how linguistic diplomatic actors could be missionaries and scholars, but also foreign prisoners of war. Second, it shows the role of non-textual translation, and the merging of cosmologies and scientific traditions. Finally, this article argues that intertwined practices of diplomacy, translation, and mapmaking had real and devastating effects on the perception of borders and territorial politics in the Central Asian borderlands.

A Question of Political Correctness: Translating Friendship across Time and Space
Birgit Tremml-Werner

The article explores translation processes behind diplomatic negotiations between Japan and the Spanish overseas empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. It applies a multi-layered approach that integrates the translations of original diplomatic documents with their re-translation as historiographical source compilations in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Analyzing the different connotations and nuances of friendship as a diplomatic concept, it highlights the impact of translation, both linguistic and cultural, as well as the strategies behind terminological choices, on intercultural encounters.

Terms of Government: Early Modern Japanese Concepts of Rulership and Political Geography in Translation
Michael Facius

This article uses the relationship between the central Tokugawa government and its vassal domain of Satsuma as a window into changing notions of government and political geography in the context of early modern Japanese diplomacy. The article argues that a wide range of translation processes that occurred from around 1800—the coinage of new political terms in Japanese, cultural translation from Chinese Confucian classics, and the demands of Euro-American international law—both reflected changing circumstances of governance and foreign policy and contributed to a shift of the intellectual and institutional boundaries between the two.

Books Received