- From Hypnosis to Animals
A Note from the SCMS Translation/Publication Committee
We are extremely pleased to continue to be able to offer new translations of works on film and media studies in the pages of Cinema Journal. Recent translations of the canonical authors published over the past few years have demonstrated the power of such publications to revitalize the field at large, producing important new historical and theoretical scholarship and engendering new debates in the field—as has been the case with the recent translations of Eisenstein, Bazin, Balázs, and Kracauer, as well as their critical reception.
At the same time, the well-deserved visibility of these publications tends to obscure the fact that very little translated scholarship in film and media studies is being published. For a discipline whose institutionalization and growth in the 1960s and 1970s depended a great deal on the translations of classical film theory, as well as its contemporary French scholarship (Raymond Bellour’s work among them), this apparent lack of interest in work on film and media in other languages is alarming.
Moreover, despite the consistent and growing turn within film and media studies toward transnational scholarship, and despite the fact that much of the cutting-edge, award-winning work in the discipline deals with the areas of the world that have traditionally not constituted part of the film and media studies canon, we see very few translations published that address the lack of available sources from areas beyond the disciplinary center. If we try to think of film culture as a global phenomenon, and go beyond a narrow Eurocentric understanding, it is crucial to engage with the ways in which cinema and the cinematic experience have been considered, and discussed, globally. The paucity of sources we can turn to for this is not evidence, as some would assume, of the uniqueness of the conceptual apparatus of the Euro-American academy to produce knowledge about cinema. Rather, it emerges from conventional practices within academic and publishing institutions, among which is the difficulty of publishing translated material. [End Page 1]
The reasons for this situation are multifaceted. As a result of the continuing crisis in academic publishing and the replacement of literary translation practices with algorithm-based business translations, academic translation in general has become much more of a rarity, and few publishers are willing to accept translated material. The job of an academic translator has been subject to the same fate—in the institutional culture of assessment and overwhelming deprofessionalization of academic labor, few academics can afford to take on the barely paid (if at all) academic translation jobs. The logic of globalization has reshaped the translation industry, and its effects are also felt in the academy. Most translation is now nonliterary, carried out by freelancers for profit through an online interface, which combines notions of algorithmic translations with a casual workforce and seeks to make the work of the translator invisible while eschewing any theories of translation in favor of corporate efficiency. The fact that many academic institutions do not consider translation a form of scholarship is a reflection of this larger shift in the way translation is approached and considered. Similar challenges face those scholars who discover that collaborative work may be best suited to tackle translation projects. Because we must invent the rules as we go, our collaborations require a great deal of experimentation and intellectual and affective engagement. The labor that goes into collaborative work often lacks measures that account for its institutional value, thus making such work a “high-risk investment” that only academics with secure job placement can afford, and younger scholars (graduate students, or underemployed or junior faculty struggling to meet the requirements for tenure) are ill advised to take such risks. However, without them, we—as a discipline and as academic institutions—are likely to preserve the current state of stasis.
Supporting academic translation carried out by qualified and committed, but also fully employed and employable scholars, needs to be an institutional priority...