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Words that matter: Deciphering colloquialisms in court records

A lecture by Laura Stokes, Associate Professor of History at Stanford.
The talk will perform close readings of depositions from several different court cases, mostly from Basel ca. 1500, with attention to the language in quoted speech. The audience will be invited to examine reproductions of the original documents and to discuss and inform the translation choices Ms. Stokes has made in her analyses of them. One example comes from the court depositions in the case of Uly Mörnach (d. 1502), containing visceral and colloquial evocations of the lives of the women and men entangled with the murder.
Laura Stokes completed her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 2006. Her first book, Demons of Urban Reform, examines the origins of witchcraft prosecution in fifteenth-century Europe against the backdrop of a general rise in the prosecution of crime and other measures of social control. In the process she has investigated the relationship between witchcraft and sodomy persecutions as well as the interplay between the unregulated development of judicial torture and innovations within witchcraft prosecution.
Her current research is an examination of quotidian economic culture during the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. This project, under the working title A Social History of Greed in the Age of the Reformation, is based largely on the examination of court depositions from the city of Basel. Its first fruit will be a microhistory on The Murder of Uly Mörnach, currently in process.
Laura Stokes directs the Stanford research group on Collective Trauma and Healing. The research group grew out of a research project on the multigenerational legacies of trauma and pragmatic questions about the efficacy of humanitarian intervention. The research group seeks new directions for humanitarian aid and development that take into account the dynamics of collective and intergenerational trauma and work to strengthen local and internal mechanisms of collective healing.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015. 12:30 PM


Pigott Hall (Bldg. 260), Room 252


Department of German Studies