Chinese Literature Today Magazine Website Up and Running

By Canaan Morse, published

The website for Oklahoma University's virgin publication Chinese Literature Today is up here, and it looks like they're working on it daily. It (the website) is appearing two steps ahead of CLT's inaugural issue, due to be published this July.

The journal will be published bi-annually, and July's print run will be around 3,000 copies, according to Assistant Editor Julie A. Shilling. At the present moment, subscriptions can only be ordered by emailing CLT directly at, but Julie has assured me that an online subscription system (something like MetaPress) will be up soon. Paper Republic puts forth a strong collective showing in this issue, with Eric Abrahamsen (fiction, Bi Feiyu), Lucas Klein (poetry, Xi Chuan) and I (essays, He Qifang) all with pieces set for publication.

The whole enterprise seems prepared for a starry start, but there is one issue I find worthy of attention, namely, compensation. When the Call for Submissions came out last winter (posted on PR here), there was no clear statement made as to whether or not the magazine would pay for what it decided to publish, and the email I sent in that regard received no response. Now, I see that the Submission Guidelines page includes the single sentence, "Contributors will receive a free copy of the issue in which their work appears," which, if you calculate based on subscription rates, would be the equivalent of $10--if your work were the only one appearing in the magazine.

I understand that there are plenty of low-circulation lit mags out there that say up front, "We're too poor to pay for your work," but this is not a pure lit mag, it's an academic journal. Every work to be published through it will have been produced at an estimable cost, i.e., the cost of the text, its procurement, analysis and interpretation, which is arguably as high or higher as that expended by an original author, with whom we must negotiate ourselves for the right to publish his or her work. I concede that personal experiences influence my argument, having paid 500 kuai at auction for an original text not to be found in libraries here, etc., etc., and I apologize if this sounds like complaining. If CLT had made it clear from the beginning that they were only prepared to offer one copy in exchange for published submissions, I would have submitted anyway, and this addendum would not be here. It is merely that even now I have begun to feel a gap in understanding between publishers and translators, and it causes me to worry.

Amendment: I see that my objection in this case is not as well-supported as I thought it to be, and that my tone distracted from the original intent of this post, which was merely to highlight the opening of CLT's web site. I am grateful for your correction.


# 1.   

I guess that means my journal won't be getting any translated works in the future.

Chinamatt, May 23, 2010, 3:45p.m.

# 2.   

Matt, it very well may as long as you are willing to say up front that you can't/aren't willing to pay for submissions. Snide comments aside, this is a question of transparent, fair business. What concerns me is that there exists a gap in understanding between publisher and translator which causes real problems to get overlooked-such as, for instance, dialogue with copyright holders. I, the translator, hold my version of an author's work in my hand, ready to hand it over to a publisher; yet the recompense-of whatever kind-the copyright holder (deservedly) expects to receive remains in...whose hands?

 Canaan Morse, May 23, 2010, 5:32p.m.

# 3.   

Canaan, have you ever seen an academic journal pay for submissions? I never have, and would assume from the start that any such venture is 1) non-profit and 2) supported by the university where it resides (in this case, the University of Oklahoma, which I don't know if you've ever been to Oklahoma, but...). It's pretty standard.

Also, and this is more an economic than a semantic thing, but these are not businesses. Even the editor in chief probably doesn't get fully paid for his time -- I'm sure he's a professor of something or other, and that this is part of his university's expectation that he'll work towards academic community development.

The universities fund this stuff from tuition and state budgets. We as translators are lucky to have it; we are lucky that there are academics willing to go through the endless grind of grant proposals to make it happen (and what one has to do to get a broke state university to expand their world literature offerings these days, I have no idea).

I don't work for the journal, and I don't know why your email was never returned, but if you're going to do a lot of this stuff, definitely expect more of the same from the academic world. In its own way, it's just as part-time, ad-hoc, and idealistically motivated as the translation world or the art world; good people with strong beliefs trying to do as much as they can with too little time and too little money.

Charles, May 24, 2010, 5:30a.m.

# 4.   

This is the same policy as used by Mechademia, which is functionally quite similar. It would have been nice to state the terms in advance, but as they're common in the journal circuit, I doubt many people are too surprised...

Edward Lipsett, May 24, 2010, 5:53a.m.


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