Translation, Scholarship, and Emily Wilson's work with The Odyssey

Of the many important statements by Emily Wilson in this interview, one in particular jumps out at me. On why scholars do not often produce translations:

“One set of issues has to do with the devaluing of translation in the academy, such that it doesn’t get you tenure or promotion and might count against you (it shows you’re a dilettante or someone who does ‘outreach,’ not serious scholarship; a total misrepresentation but one that is commonly believed).”

Emily Wilson is accurate in her assessment and hints at why this is an absolute shame for academia and literature. So, to add:

Translation is the act of rendering a text more accessible while also inviting new readings. Education is the act of rendering a text more accessible while also inviting new readings.

A text is not always literature and a reading can include any form of participation.

Studying translation provides insight into the ways ideas speak across millieux. It is the transmission of knowledge.

Translation is pedagogy. And it is also pedagogy with a particularly wide reach.

Outreach should be one of our most celebrated accomplishments as academics. What is more important than sharing ideas? I should note that the tide is changing. In many parts of the world, universities are citing their outreach, often officially refered to as “knowledge exchange,” as a marker of the institution’s success.

We are hopefully well beyond the days of envisioning academic work as cloistered in a snuzzy corner of a forgotten library with no real-world implications. We participate in our field, whether in research, writing, or the classroom. Our fingerprints are all over our material.

Translation is a critical form of participation. It is close reading, analysis, hermeneutics, linguistics, narratology, reader-response theory, comparative work, and much, much more bound together. It is theory and practice as they strive to act in concert.

Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey reverberated around the world. It inspired people to read and think and suss out their own ideas on writing, language, identity, and on and on.

I can not think of anything more in line with the goals of a university.

A few things that brought me joy this year. Shared in the hope that they might do the same for you.

Novel: Circe by Madeline Miller

Album: Hive Mind by The Internet

Theory: Declarations of Dependence by Scott Ferguson

Children’s Books: Everything from Nobrow/Flying Eye Books

TV/Cookbook: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat

Our open infrastructure plan for open-access academic publishing is now available to read and annotate (via on the ScholarLed website. Please check it out and contribute your thoughts!

Gal Beckerman with an illuminating discussion on the current state of the Jewish community in the US through a wave of new books on the topic.

3 years ago today, I defended my PhD dissertation at UT Austin. Since then, I founded an arts and education nonprofit, turned that dissertation into a book, and became a parent. I remain on the job market.

Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning by Melanie Mitchell via NYT

A for-profit academic publishing giant forces a small internet service provider to block sites that publish free academic articles. The service provider responds by also blocking the publishing giant. >This page you’ve got before you right now is the result, this is what awaits in a future where private interests can regulate community information. Is our legal system really being used in this way?

Whenever I need to feel better - which is more and more often these days - I watch this music video by Kaytranada that evokes the world of 25 years ago in all its let’s-dance-together wonder.

Open Book Publishers on why it’s crucial to oppose recent for profit attempts to monopolize control over academic research.

How to Be a Generous Professor in Precarious Times