[CFP] Translation in Society 3:1 (Spring 2024)

Literary translatorship in digital contexts

Guest editors

Wenqian Zhang, University of Exeter: wenqian.zhang1211@gmail.com 

Motoko Akashi, University of East Anglia: akashimotoko@gmail.com

Peter Jonathan Freeth, Aston University: petefreeth.translator@gmail.com 

Since the “sociological turn”, the object of study in literary translation research has expanded beyond the textual to examine literary translators and their labour within the contexts that they work. By applying sociological frameworks such as the Bourdieusian sociology of cultural production, scholars have demonstrated the fruitfulness of examining the roles played by translators in the movement of literary texts between languages and cultures and their positions within the fields of power that govern these processes (Sapiro, 2008; 2016). In doing so, sociological investigations into the agency, habitus and role of literary translators have echoed calls within the discipline more broadly to refocus our attention on the figure of the translator within translation studies (e.g. Simeoni, 1998; Sela-Sheffy 2005, 2008; Hu, 2004), which have since developed into the subfield of “translator studies” (Chesterman, 2009) and more recently, “literary translator studies” (Kaindl et al., 2021).

However, despite the focus of sociological and translator studies on the agency and habitus of translators in literary translation processes, little has been done to connect this work to broader sociological understandings of publishing practices, a field of research where translation and translators also remain largely invisible — particularly in digital contexts. For instance, in Simone Murray’s Bourdieusian charting of The Digital Literary Sphere (2018), she gives only limited reference to the cultural capital required to initiate translation processes, whilst John Thompson provides a limited overview of the powerful global position enjoyed by English-language texts in comparison to translations into English (2010, 13) and the sale of foreign language rights by Anglophone literary agents (61-69) with no reference made to translators themselves. As such, this special issue seeks to bridge this gap between sociological approaches in translation studies and other fields such as publishing studies and book history, whilst continuing steps towards understanding the relationships between humans and digital contexts seen in the work of scholars such as Cronin (2012) and Desjardins et al. (2020).

To achieve this aim, suggested topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • interdisciplinary and methodological considerations on the multifaceted social roles played by literary translators in digital contexts, e.g. developing Bourdieusian approaches for digital contexts
  • the human dimension of literary translators working in digital contexts, e.g. their professional status, emotions, (mental) health, identities, image-building, networks, and communities 
  • literary translators’ negotiations and interactions with the publishing world, e.g. how digital contexts impact the publishing industry and literary translators’ agency in the production, circulation, and reception of translated products
  • literary translators’ interactions with technologies, digital tools and social media for their self-development and self-positioning, e.g. how the digital space facilitates their translation tasks, amplifies their agency, and makes their role more visible to the public
  • ethical issues, dilemmas or crisis concerning the relationship between literary translators and technological advancements, between humans and technology

Prospective authors should submit abstracts for their proposed papers (400-500 words, excluding references) to literarytranslatorspecialissue@gmail.com by 31 October 2022.


Chesterman, A. 2009. The Name and Nature of Translator Studies. Hermes – Journal of Language and Communication in Business. 42, pp.13-22.

Cronin, M. 2012. Translation in the digital age. London and New York: Routledge.

Desjardins, R., Larsonneur, C. and Lacour, P. eds. 2021. When Translation Goes Digital: Case Studies and Critical Reflections. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hu, G. 2004. Translator-Centredness. Perspectives 12 (2), pp.106-117. 

Kaindl, K., Waltraud Kolb, and Daniela Schlager. eds. 2021. Literary Translator Studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Murray, S. 2018. The digital literary sphere: reading, writing, and selling books in the Internet era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sapiro, G. 2008. Translation and the Field of Publishing: A Commentary on Pierre Bourdieu’s “A Conservative Revolution in Publishing”. Translation Studies. 1(2), pp.154-166.

Sapiro, G. 2016. How Do Literary Works Cross Borders (or Not)? A Sociological Approach to World Literature. Journal of World Literature. 1(1), pp.81-96.

Sela-Sheffy, R. 2005. How to be a (recognized) translator: Rethinking habitus, norms, and the field of translation. Target. International Journal of Translation Studies. 17(1), pp. 1-26.

Sela-Sheffy, R. 2008. The Translators’ Personae: Marketing Translatorial Images as Pursuit of Capital. Meta. 52(3), pp. 609-622.

Simeoni, D. 1998. The Pivotal Status of the Translator’s Habitus. Target. International Journal of Translation Studies. 10(1), pp. 1-39.

Thompson, J. B. 2010. Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Polity Press. 


  • Deadline for abstracts (400-500 words, excl. references):  31 October 2022
  • Notification on abstracts: 30 November 2022
  • Submission of full papers: 15 April 2023
  • Notification of outcome of peer review: 15 July 2023
  • Revised versions: 31 October 2023
  • Final decision: 15 November 2023
  • Final manuscripts: 1 December 2023
  • Publication: Spring 2024