Global approaches to history have called into question the value of national perspectives, stressing the permeability of the nation-state and the limitations of studies centred on it. In the field of book history, this has led us to examine a wide range of cultural transfers and international exchanges which national frameworks encompass inadequately, if at all. At the same time, the ‘transnational turn’ has increasingly focussed attention on cross-cultural exchanges and ‘entangled histories’ in which translation plays a crucial role. Yet the process of internationalization has run far ahead of the linguistic abilities of many historians (both inside and outside the Anglosphere) to comprehend other worlds and other historiographies. What Peter Burke has called a ‘polyphonic history’, sensitive to multiple voices from multiple perspectives, imposes new demands on historians’ language skills.

With this problem in mind, Lingua Franca seeks to promote the internationalization of book history, by producing the most significant work in the field in the form of accessible English translations. Established in 2017, and taking over from what was previously the Translations Page of SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing), it aims to present interesting work on the global history of the book for English-language readers. Our choice to translate work into English is intended neither to strengthen nor to celebrate the hegemony of English as the hyper-central world language, but rather to recognize the role of English as today’s lingua franca, the optimum medium of communication between populations all over the world, whatever their first language may be. Furthermore our translations into English aim in their small way to counteract the dominant current, in which translations from English as the source language make up the vast majority of all translations.

In accordance with SHARP’s general philosophy, Lingua Franca interprets ‘book history’ in a broad and inclusive sense, in other words it is confined neither to books nor to print, but encompasses all the varied possibilities of textual communication and its history. In terms of geographical scope, Lingua Franca will publish articles from all parts of the world beyond the Anglosphere.

Normally, the articles chosen for translation will have been recently published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Occasionally, if their significance warrants it, older articles may be translated. From time to time, Lingua Franca may commission and translate an unpublished article, after a rigorous peer review process. The decision to publish an article rests with the editors, and will be taken after consultation with experts in the relevant field. The editors will also be responsible for commissioning translators.

Lingua Franca is an electronic, open access journal appearing once annually. Articles will either have been peer-reviewed in their original publication, or peer-reviewed by Lingua Franca. Lingua Franca’s policy is to use professional translators for all material, unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise.

Lingua Franca aims to produce a number of thematic issues. These may be based around a country or a region; a specific domain of book history; or a particular historical period. The editors welcome suggestions for themed and/or guest-edited issues.

We recognize the value of a global intellectual dialogue. Lingua Franca will help to make that dialogue a concrete reality for book historians worldwide.

Martyn Lyons
Susan Pickford
Mariana Silveira