In this eventful year, there is much to celebrate. With this issue, we mark a silver anniversary with the publication of volume 25 of the Women in German Yearbook. When Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres and Marjorie Gelus wrote their preface to volume 20, they asked, “What does one do to celebrate a twentieth anniversary?” (ix). In answer, they paused to reflect on the past and look toward the future of both the organization and the publication. When we co-editors met in Snowbird last October for the annual conference, the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary was on both our minds. We agreed to celebrate this appearance of the journal with a chorus of editorial voices and invited contributions from six former Yearbook editors for the forum that opens the volume. The retrospective essays from Helen Cafferty, Jeanette Clausen, Sara Friedrichsmeyer, Patricia Herminghouse, Helga Kraft, and Maggie McCarthy offer insight into the changes and continuities in the Yearbook, and by extension, in feminism, feminist theory, editorial practices, and gender politics in the profession and beyond. We also bear witness to the stunning gains shared by the organization as it grew and grows. We take this occasion to commemorate the losses suffered as well. The shock and pain of Susanne Zantop’s death in early 2001 still reverberate.
The essays in the “Former Editors’ Forum” disclose our history, and with it, the evolution of the journal, which in turn reflects the status of feminisms in the profession, in the US, and in German-speaking Europe. A recurring theme in these reflections is the question of legitimacy. Former editors had to confront the assumption that feminist scholarship was marginal and that articles published in the Yearbook might not “count” for professional advancement. Over the years, most universities have added Women’s Studies departments to their roster of academic units, and feminist scholars have broadened their scope to include sexuality, race, and ethnicity, and, as some of the pieces in this volume show, to investigate their connections to one another. The struggle for legitimacy continues, however, as we now face the challenge of justifying foreign language study in particular and the humanities in general. [End Page x] Support for publications like the Yearbook has dwindled at universities and university libraries, a development already noted by Boetcher Joeres and Gelus in their reflection about the Yearbook’s twentieth anniversary (“Musing Together” 223). Yet, not only do we continue to publish an annual volume, we do so with a sense of momentum and confidence. We have learned to trust our accumulated skills and to strengthen our network across generations to keep our project going. At twenty-five, we have every reason to celebrate what we have accomplished.
In reflecting on the recent past of feminism, WiG’s story intersects with a monumental anniversary: the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that went with it. As Angela Krauß notes in her interview with Julie Klassen, the realities in Leipzig of 1989 were themselves absorbing; the writing would come later. Krauß, who was invited to the 1990 WiG conference, bore witness to the incommensurately eventful times. In this interview, twenty years later, she shares her thoughts on the creative process, her sense of subjectivity, and the poetics of her prose. Krauß is an author whose depth and range far exceed her role as witness to a tumultuous history, but her responses in this interview remind us of the intricate relationship between an author’s subjectivity and her place in a larger cultural narrative: Krauß speaks to the essential longing from which literature emerges. Her recollections of Leipzig do invoke the complexities of the two Germanys’ relatively recent past. Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we continue to confront the personal, political, and cultural consequences of uniting the two Germanys, an integration that is far from seamless. When WiG was founded in 1976, many of the scholars and activists who committed their careers to Women’s Studies did so inspired by the ideals of Marxism and feminism. Many of us explored the literature, culture, and politics of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) by reading women writers, from...