Beard’s essay contends that specialized journals with limited readerships encounter similar problems. Independent of the subject there are material conditions that limit, shape, or color a journal’s possibilities. These conditions become especially vivid to editors. In the case of journals and book series dealing with the literatures of the Middle East, the constraints are in part political. (Readers bring to the area preexisting commitments and expectations.) In part they are methodological. (Writers trained in Middle East Studies are likely to come to literature from different disciplines other than literary analysis.) In part they are regional. (Contributors usually have specialized in a particular culture or language — Turkish, Persian, or Arabic, in addition to lesser-taught languages like Uighur, Urdu, or Uzbek.) Beard describes his experiences as an editor of two projects: the journal Middle Eastern Literatures and the series “Middle Eastern Literatures in Translation.” In both cases the primary value is generating dialogue between specialists from different backgrounds.
Michael Beard; Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2012; 32 (3): 555–562. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-1891561
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