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Special Issue on Translation under Dictatorships: Translation Matters Vol.2.No.2. (Autumn 2020)

Published in Calls for Papers

Translation Horizons

(Edited by Beijing Foreign Studies University, published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press)

Special Issue Call for Papers

Translation of Classical Chinese Novels: Texts, Paratexts and Contexts

Guest edited by Lintao Qi (Monash University) and Moss Roberts (New York University)

Classical Chinese novels play a unique and prominent role in the history of Chinese literature, particularly towards the end of the pre-modern period, when “xiaoshuo (for want of a better equivalent in English, novel)” matured and prospered as a genre in the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty. Due to multifarious factors such as the circulation pattern of novels, technical limitation of printing, and at times, literary censorship, practically all classical Chinese novels have more than one version. This plurality of texts, on the one hand, enriched the textual history of novels in China; while on the other hand, it significantly complicated the translation landscape when classical Chinese novels were introduced to the outside world.

Translation of a text across linguistic, cultural and geographical borders always bear the imprints of the ideology of the translator, the socio-cultural features of the target context, and most likely, the negotiation and compromise between the various agents and/or patrons involved such as the commissioner, the translator and the publisher, whose powers are, more often than not, imbalanced. And these can usually be best uncovered by scrutinising not the translated texts, but the paratexts of translations: prefaces, correspondence between the agents and/or patrons, interviews, reviews, and publisher’s public archives, etc.

Research on the translation of classical Chinese novels has been increasing in recent years, and is developing into a multi-disciplinary area. The editors of the proposed Special Issue of Translation Horizons would welcome proposals for essays that explore the following areas, and other related topics:

  • Historical studies: At what historical moment was a classical Chinese novel translated into a particular language? And what are the socio-cultural motivations? Is the choice of such texts isolated cases or does it represent a historical trend? How has the plurality of source texts been dealt with and what are the implications of such choices?
  • Translator studies: Who devised the translations? What are the habitus and capitals of the translators? How did the translators’ ethos affect their translated texts?
  • Sociological studies: What are the translation strategies? How (or whether) have these strategies been conditioned by the socio-cultural contexts of the time, e.g. popular ideology, political policy, literary censorship, etc.? Are there any network of agents and/or patrons at work in the choice of translation strategies, or more broadly, in the publication of the translations?
  • Comparative studies: If there are more than one translation of a novel into a particular language, in what ways are they similar to, or different from each other, in terms of textual and paratexutal features, translatorial orientations, and reception by readers?
  • Retranslation studies: If multiple translations of a novel exist, are they synchronically or diachronically related to each other? Is one translation an active or passive retranslation of another?
  • Contextual studies: Why have there been retranslations of the same novel? Are the reasons for retranslation temporal, historical, political, personal or commercial? Are the considerations of a translator of a retranslation mainly linguistic, cultural or even academic?
  • Theoretical studies: Are there any patterns observable from the history of retranslations of classical Chinese novels? Are these in line with or in opposition to the retranslation hypothesis proposed by Antoine Berman?
  • Adaptation studies: Are all the translations of the same novel complete translations? Is there any partial translation, or adaptation? If so, what have been transferred into the target text, and what have been left out? Why have these happened? Is the translator, the publisher, any other agent or patron, or the social milieu responsible for such adaptations? If so, in what manner?
  • Paratextual studies: What are the roles of paratexts such as book covers, prefaces, interviews, book reviews, correspondence and archives in the study of translations, translators and/or the other agents?Methodological studies: How can the texts, paratexts and contexts of translations of classical Chinese novel be most effectively examined and studied?
  • Ontological studies: The Chinese terms and their translations. In the case of xiaoshuo, does xiao suggest false modesty, meaning content of lesser consequence (even trivial) compared say to daxue, the study of important matters, i.e., state and social relations, the focus of the Lunyu? And shuo as casual informal conversational written story-telling? Yanyi, zhuan, jian (mirror), ji would be contrasting ways to describe a narration. The Hongloumeng itself has characters who question the value of reading such narrations. Do you think the title Hongloumeng has been correctly translated? Does hong modify lou or meng?Miscellaneous studies:g. interviews with the translators of classical Chinese novels.

Instructions for Authors

Submission instructions

Articles will be 6000–8000 words in length, in English (including notes and references); however, the translated texts on which the proposed papers are based could be in any language.

Abstracts of 400-500 words should be sent to the guest editors at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


  • 30 June 2018: deadline for submitting abstracts to the guest editors
  • 31 August 2018: deadline for decisions on abstracts
  • 30 April 2019: submission of papers
  • 30 November 2019: submission of final version of papers
  • May 2020: Publication date

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Translation Horizons

Translation Horizons is biannual, peer-reviewed journal focused on disseminating scholarly research relevant to translation and interpreting. The inaugural issue of the journal was released in May 2016. It is edited by the Center for Translation Studies of the School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. It is abstracted and indexed in Translation Studies Bibliography (TSB) and CNKI.

Translation Horizons publishes original theoretical and empirical research articles as well as translations of influential theoretical and methodological research articles written in languages other than Chinese. It also pays close attention to studies on translator and interpreter training and issues in the language industry.

The Journal publishes in every issue eight research articles, one book review and one interview. Articles should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, please visit

About the guest editors

Lintao Qi obtained his Doctoral degree in Translation Studies from Monash University, Australia in 2015. He is currently lecturing in the Master’s program of Translation and Interpreting at Monash University. His research interest is in the translation of canonical Chinese works.

Having completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D degrees at Columbia University, Moss Roberts has been a professor in NYU’s Department of East Asian studies since 1968. He has released dozens of publications on Asian language and culture, including multiple books and translations. He currently teaches courses on East Asian civilization and serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Published in Calls for Papers

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This interdisciplinary conference welcomes proposals for 15-20 minute papers on translation and other language-related topics dealing with the period 1400 to 1800. Thematic panel proposals are also welcome (2-hour sessions involving 3-4 speakers).

Published in Conferences

Translating Frantz Fanon provides  an innovative look at the reception of Frantz Fanon’s texts, investigating how, when, where and why these—especially his seminal Les Damnés de la Terre (1961) —were first translated and read.

Published in New Publications
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Translation Under Fascism

In the fascist regimes of the mid twentieth century – this volume the focuses on Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal – translation was a carefully, though not always successfully, managed cultural practice. Translation policies attempted to steer public perceptions and promote or brake ideological change.

Translation Under Fascism examines translation practices under fascism within their historical context – from publishers' biographies, institutional constraints and long-term literary trends right down to the textual choices made by translators and editors in individual translations. All these aspects of a translation analysis allow insight into the workings of international cultural exchange in times of dictatorship, and are of interest equally to translation scholars and historians of culture in the periods concerned.

The spectrum of translation policies and practices presented here indicates different paradigms, different obsessions and different institutional frameworks, but also shared rhetorical motifs such as the ideas of translation as a cultural weapon and translation as a form of cultural contamination.

Published in Edited Collections

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