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12/19/2022

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Malcolm

I think the OP could successfully publish a translation with an academic book publisher. They need to demonstrate an interest in the translation (what's the market?) and scholarly credentials.

As for a journal, I don't know medieval philosophy journals, but in Indian philosophy, there are places for these kinds of translations, often accompanied by scholarly/philosophical commentary.

It sounds like the OP recognizes that, generally speaking, philosophy as a field doesn't see translation work as philosophical and, typically, employers and tenure committees won't value translations--even books--as highly as other projects. This is a shame, but it's an unfortunate fact.

One strategy I've used to mitigate this is to package a translation with other materials and to explain that, without the translation, contemporary philosophers are not in a position to engage with the philosophical work. Depending on the length of the material you're translating and on what translations already exist, this could be one way to pitch a book. Instead of being primarily a translation, it's a monograph which includes the material you're discussing.

Sara L. Uckelman

Journals are definitely interested in publishing editions of small/short pieces, especially if they are accompanied by a commentary on the text. (Vivarium, CIMAGL, Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales, Medioevo, etc., are all places to look at).

Translations I think are going to be harder to sell -- across the board, whether in journals or in book series -- but it won't be because you're a grad student, but because they're just not considered as important. Which is ridiculous because access to good-quality translations is becoming increasingly needed as people with the interest in medieval philosophy may not necessary yet have the linguistic skills to read in the original. We need good quality translations for undergrads to engage with!

But translations are often not counted as real "research" (which is RIDICULOUS), which also means that even if you do get a translation published, it's unlikely to "count" for very much. A CV that is built on created skilled translations will not get you a research-based academic-job in the anglophone world, unfortunately.

Two things I would ask myself before I put much effort into a translation project: (1) is this a text that I need to have translated anyway, for my own work? (2) would I be better served using the time it takes to create the translation to write an article or book about the content of the text instead?

caution

I cannot imagine someone getting tenure for translations in a philosophy department. Certainly at smaller teaching universities, they just want you to publish a bit in peer reveiwed journals. And at research universities they will also want more than translations to tenure you. So do not over-invest in this project.

Jacob Joseph Andrews

Thank you for these comments! It's helpful to have some clarity.

Doesn't matter, but I should have been clearer: by "early PhD" I meant just graduated (2021), not still in grad school.

I've heard a lot of laments that translation work isn't regarded as sufficiently philosophical, but not a lot of people defending that view. The cynic in me wants to think that's because the people who think poorly of translation work don't pay much attention to translations. But I don't want to assume that. At least, I think I could come up with a plausible argument that translation work should count as less than traditional research work, even if I wouldn't agree with the argument.

I wonder if it's connected to the general lower rank of teaching focused publications. Translating is a kind of teaching after all, and if you're a specialist, you by definition don't need translations (even if you use them often for convenience, just like how specialists might read SEP articles in their field).

Karl

I published one translation (contemporary, in a journal) early in my career. It was literally never mentioned in job interviews, etc. It never came up, even as other things I had published did. I suspect it didn't count for or against me on the job market and as a search committee member, I assume I wouldn't count it for or against a candidate either. I do suspect in fancy shmancy places any translation better be obscured by scholarship on the individual whose work you translated. I did it as a labor of love and a favor to someone, and of course don't regret the time I spent on what is still an obscure essay. If this is not the case for you, your time may be best spent elsewhere at the moment and save serious translation projects for when you have a better understanding of your career trajectory. (Remember, Geach and Black were at the top of their field when they published their translations of Frege.)

Philosopher Classicist

So it sounds like the consensus is that it's not just that a translated volume doesn't count as the same as a research article (and so isn't worth the effort), but actually *less* than a journal article.

This is unfortunate, as the warning I'd always heard about translation work before is that since it's just another line on your CV, it's not worth the extra effort.

Here's my thinking behind my question. My PhD is from a middle-ranked school, and I teach the equivalent of a 7/7-plus-service load at a grade school. I have *maybe* one hour a day for research (and zero on weekends/evenings/summer because I have another part time job and a child with special needs). My chances of getting a research focused job is pretty much zero. Fortunately, I love teaching and particularly love my current job. But always want to be ready for a change if it comes to me. So I'm trying to figure out how to best use my sliver of time for research so that a community college or teaching focused school at least wouldn't immediately throw my application out.

I've been reading/writing/speaking Latin since I was six. Writing a quality translation takes less time and effort for me than writing articles. So if translations count for *the same* as research articles, that's the obvious way for me to go: I can produce more and higher quality work with the time I have, and contribute more to the discipline (the people I translate are smarter than I am). But if they count for less than a research article, as seems to be the case, it's probably not a good move.

Am I thinking through this correctly?

Zita

I think it definitely counts less than a research article, if at all (which may be lamentable, but that doesn't change the fact). Actually, I haven't seen many recent article-length translations in medieval philosophy, but I'd look at the journals Sara has suggested.

Book-length is a different thing, and there are definitely some good venues for that (Auctores Britannici has started publishing bilingual editions; there's the Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations series, as well as those by CUP, Brill, etc.). There are also similar venues for publishing something like a "reader" -- a collection of shorter texts on a specific topic. I think those are great for teaching purposes.

I would say that if you are at all comfortable with editing texts, that may be more valuable and publishable (although you likely still won't get hired based on it alone). While there's a lot of work that goes into editing, in my experience, transcribing is actually less mentally tiring than translating, so a good thing to do when one doesn't have much energy for anything else. And you can certainly publish editions with a short introduction in places like RTAM or Vivarium.

Early career translating philosopher

I am currently working on one large and one small translation project and EVERYONE advising me about tenure and promotion has been telling me to basically shelve them until tenure. They are both pretty important to me so I haven't completely done that, but anyone contemplating embarking on ambitious translation projects in philosophy should know they're worth much less for one's career than the work that goes into them.

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