Thursday, January 21, 2010
The first year of the new, online Sino-Japanese Studies now having come to a close, it is instructive to look back over the year and see what we have accomplished and where the challenges lurk in future. One remarkable thing about online journals is the ability to collect data (anonymous, of course) on readership. None of this would have been even remotely possible without the expert assistance of Konrad M. Lawson, now working diligently on his doctoral thesis at Harvard.
Sino-Japanese Studies (volume 16) clocked over 200 pages of densely “printed” PDFs. This surpasses even the most productive years of the journal when it appeared in print format. We have reached most of the places we reached in print, and (it appears) reached many places in Asia we hadn’t before. Much of this has to do with both the popularity of the internet and the fact that it is free. I’d like to think that it also has to do with the enhanced popularity of the field of Sino-Japanese studies. When we began this original venture twenty years ago, it was considerably less fashionable to exceed the boundaries of a single country in historical research, although comparative literature had a multi-national dimension built in, it often exercised that aspect of its discipline in an ahistorical way. Now, borderless, trans-national, and various other adjectives gracing “history” appear everywhere, and just as history has come to realize that the nation-state is a rather late-developing phenomenon and perhaps inappropriate way to organize the past, literary studies (at least, in part) are becoming more historical.
Over the course of the year 2009, we tallied over 10,000 hits, including over 3,000 “visits” and 2,300 “absolute unique visitors” which must be a technical term, although Konrad informs me that the latter may actually include the same people using different computers. Many of the visitors (in addition to myself and Konrad) would have been authors checking on their own works or accessing them for their own purposes. Also, many visitors were looking up articles previous published in print form and now freely available online, while others were accessing the newly published pieces from 2009. Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone and wish them all the best with past and future essays and reviews in SJS.
Where have those many visitors (and, thus, prospective contributors) come from? Not surprisingly, the majority came from the United States, followed by Canada. Interestingly, next in line were Japan and China (Hong Kong and Taiwan were not too far behind). It is especially gratifying to know that we have readers in those places and from multiples sites there. European countries were also represented; the United Kingdom and Germany were cited in our data, but I know that France should also have been included. One of the wonders of the internet is the immediacy of interactions that it enables. An independent scholar from France wrote after the appearance earlier last year of the bibliographic essay by Ishikawa Yoshihiro that I translated. She was curious about the way an original author’s name had been rendered based on the Japanese and Chinese translations mentioned by Ishikawa. After several e-mail exchanges among the three of us, Konrad found the source of my error, which prompted our French colleague’s initial query, and that now appears at the end of the essay in question.
Now, to be sure, even a cursory glance through this year’s table of contents will quickly reveal that I prepared the lion’s share of the essays in the form of translations, mostly from the study of Shanghai and the Japanese by Liu Jianhui. I certainly hope to reduce that percentage over time and look forward to receiving submissions from any and everywhere. We also had three important and original articles: by Mizuno Norihito on late-nineteenth century diplomatic and political history, using a plethora of original documents; by Ng Wai-ming on Zhang Jian and his activities in his home town; and by Leo Yip on the idiosyncratic use of literary Chinese by Zeami in medieval Japan.
Where, as they say, do we go from here? I am hoping to get more submissions. The review process is especially rapid with the internet. I am also hoping for substantive book reviews and review essays, especially but not exclusively of works in Chinese or Japanese. These sorts of reviews do not require the full process of obtaining an external reader’s report. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, books to review, information about article submissions, and the like.
Best wishes for 2010, the year of the tiger.