Call for Papers:

Amodern 8: Translation-Machination
Guest-edited by Christine Mitchell and Rita Raley

Submission deadline: September 1, 2016
Publication: Spring 2017

Translation occupies a special place in the history of computing. Not only was it the first non-numerical application attempted with computers, it was and still is an eminently graspable domain in which dreams and devices of Artificial Intelligence can be conjured, commended and cajoled by a variety of publics. Translation was recently characterized as “quaint, a boutique pursuit from a lost world,” by theorist of uncreative language Kenneth Goldsmith. Are such proclamations thinkable now because translation is being supplanted by other processes and automations (whether linguistic or non-linguistic), or because machine translation renders translation’s own machinations newly visible, in exciting and disconcerting ways?

Amodern 8 explores the contexts and implications of translation as mechanism, media, technique and transmission. Instead of regarding the machine as marking the limits of translation – an assumption that walls off translation practice from media and communication studies concerns, while absorbing its products – we seek papers that investigate possibilities and configurations of translation as machined, or as machining meaning, historically and in the contemporary moment. This themed issue seeks to move past translation’s commonplaces (failures, losses, treacheries) and to interrogate its traditional demarcations (e.g. between literary and informational language), to investigate the production, transformation and impact of cross-lingual legibilities on page and screen, in sound, and at algorithmic and industrial scales, as mechanized translation and natural language processing are embedded into communications systems and information distribution networks.

This issue uses translation as a launchpad for addressing the sites and evolving understandings of linguistic exchange within the paradigm of “natural language processing,” a messy catch-all term and material space that can engage poetics, linguistics, software engineering, literacy training, information genres, machine learning, publishing, language corpora, and digital humanities research. Ultimately, this issue aims to bring media critical and historical reflection to bear on translation’s machinations by confronting not only what might be “natural” about natural language processing, but what’s natural about natural language.

Submissions might address:

-media archaeologies of translation, applied linguistics, computational linguistics
-translation as technical performance / cultural technique
-translation and decoding, decryption, deciphering / encoding, encryption, enciphering
-genre theory, linguistic domains, topic modelling
-materiality of language planning and language engineering
-translation and intelligence
-translation automation, translation standards, translation professionalization
-materialities and mediations of linguistic data, bilingual corpora
-language as platform / language as corpus
-translation and linguistic labour
-audiovisual translation, intermedial translation
-changing temporalities, visibilities and spatial arrangements of translation




Peer-reviewed articles are the backbone of Amodern. Each issue will consist primarily of peer-reviewed articles on a specific topic or theme.


To propose an issue idea to the editors, please send an email to with the following information: Title; Significance / impact of topic; Description of the issue (number of articles, interviews, type and source of images); List of likely contributors; Relevant expertise of the editor(s); Work plan (including timelines).


Amodern publishes two kinds of interviews: article-length pieces, which may be submitted for an issue following the regular process, and feature-length interviews for our eponymous series, “The Amoderns.” Feature-length interviews are not normally accepted over the transom, but if you have something completed and unpublished that you think might be appropriate for an upcoming issue, you’re welcome to make an inquiry.


Each issue of Amodern showcases a small body of work by a particular artist or collective. To submit work for consideration, send us a URL to your portfolio and a short statement about the nature of your work.


We are interested in new forms for academic writing, such as the technical reports for communication in the Humanities that Nick Montfort describes in “Beyond the Journal and the Blog.” The “Reports” section of Amodern is primarily a venue for unvetted interdisciplinary discourse that prioritizes flexibility, urgency, and sharability.

Special Projects

We will be using Amodern to showcase other kinds of materials as well: audio, video, and documentary/archival materials. If you have a proposal for such a project that works well with an upcoming topic and it’s within your technical skills to produce and our technical means to support it, we’ll consider it. Please contact us for further details.

Forthcoming Issues

Amodern 7: Sound, Vision, Action
Edited by Nicholas Mirzoeff and Jonathan Sterne

Amodern 8: Translation–Machination
Edited by Christine Mitchell and Rita Raley

Amodern 9: Ephemera and Ephemerality
Edited by Susan Zieger and Priti Joshi

Editorial Policy

Amodern publishes original articles of up to 9000 words on subjects related to the study of media, culture, and poetics. Articles submitted to Amodern are evaluated by the editors, who determine if they will be sent for peer review. Peer-reviewed articles will be evaluated anonymously by at least two qualified reviewers. The adjudication process takes 2-4 months, at which point the author will be able to read reviewers’ reports and respond to any requests for revision.

The editors may decide, with advance notice, to experiment with other formats for peer review in a digital networked milieu, including open peer review. Notices of any such changes in our peer review process will appear here.


Amodern uses Chicago Style with endnotes (bibliography incorporated into the notes). Please format all submitted papers accordingly.

Submitting to Amodern

Please send all submissions and queries to:

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