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Petrarch in Global Translation: A Genealogy of Western Love

NOMIS Project 2024

— 2026

Francesco Petrarca’s Canzoniere, a collection of 366 poems written in 14th century Italy, is arguably the most influential book of love poetry ever written. Known as the “Father of Humanism,” Petrarca popularized the sonnet form, which traveled across Europe and beyond in centuries to come. The cultural, religious and aesthetic assumptions behind the poems did not always adapt themselves easily to foreign tongues and traditions, and the ways in which Petrarch’s poems entered into both European and non-European contexts has created some of the most interesting and complex love literature across the globe.

Petrarch in Global Translation: A Genealogy of Western Love is a collaborative humanities project across languages and national borders that is investigating the foundational conception of Western love as codified by Canzoniere. The project is exploring, for example, the extent to which Petrarchan norms are useful and adaptive models outside of Western contexts. By re-engaging the practice of Petrarchism, which has spawned centuries of literary production and critical reception, Petrarch in Global Translation proposes a simultaneously theoretical and experimental, historical and systematic approach to identifying the dominant “poetics of love” in the Western tradition.

Using the central tool of translation, Petrarch in Global Translation will develop an innovative global approach to Petrarchan poetry as a grammar of love. An initial team of 12 collaborators from countries across Europe as well as the US, Argentina, Iran, China and Japan will translate the same group of Petrarch’s poems from Italian into their respective languages to create a shared textual corpus for subsequent investigations.

The Petrarch in Global Translation project is being led by Ramie Targoff at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, US, and Judith Frömmer at the University of Vienna, Austria.


NOMIS Researcher(s)

Professor of Italian and French literature and media studies
University of Vienna
Jehuda Reinharz Professor of the Humanities
Brandeis University