Call for Academic Translators in the Humanities

By Canaan Morse, published

My contact with China-focused academic presses has increased substantially over the past three months or so, and each one of them has come back looking for Chinese to English translators qualified to take on academic projects, usually monographs on topics in the humanities -- Chinese social science, political economy, literary history and theory are just a few examples. Sourcing translators for academic work can be harder than sourcing for trade, for reasons I'll list below, so I thought I would put out an open call here to get everyone's attention.

Academic projects have a few notable advantages, like:

-- flexible schedules
-- interesting content, academic presses not being under the same pressure to publish crap and sell lots of copies that trade publishers are
--educated people
--eligibility for grant support
--excellent opportunity to network with academics --excellent opportunity to improve one's fluency in a discipline (a plus for grad students)

The disadvantages are clear:
-- The money isn't good. I can't guarantee a good rate --academic prose. Nuff said.
--significant time investment

Ideally, academic translators are themselves professional translators, but that assumes an ideal world in which presses pay professional rates. I see the industry moving toward this ideal -- one of my contacts is willing to consider real money for academic trade translation -- but most presses aren't there yet. The opportunity is there for PhD students or professors in the humanities as long as you have experience with and an interest in translating.

If interested, please email me at Projects will come in on an ad hoc basis, but they will be here; I have two proposals sitting in my suitcase right now.


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