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  • Editing the Women in German Yearbook: Immersion in Germanic Studies
  • Helga W. Kraft (bio)

Any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his [or her] audience.

—Rebecca West (5)

The Women in German Yearbook, as one of the first journals with a gender perspective, not only facilitated debates between German artists and audiences, as Rebecca West requests, but also took on discussions on cultural phenomena in general. When the first Women in German Yearbook was published, I eagerly read its provocative contributions to the study of Germanistik and continue to do so. Thus it was a privilege for me to be elected to the three-year position as co-editor for the Women in German Yearbook in 2004. I co-edited volumes 21 (2005), 22 (2006), and 23 (2007) and enjoyed my work for the journal enormously. Because of the cutting-edge work the Yearbook represents, my engagement as coeditor sharpened my awareness of trends in scholarship and provided me with the opportunity to get to know many new colleagues (and their specialties) in my field, as well as colleagues whose areas of expertise are outside of my own research interests. It felt natural to become involved in this endeavor because of my dedication to WiG since the early 1980s when I became a member. Throughout my career, I attended as many annual WiG conferences as I could and profited from the multitude of groundbreaking scholarly presentations as well as from the networking made possible at each and every meeting. Early in my career I received invaluable professional mentoring and advice from colleagues at these meetings, which helped me solidify and strengthen my professional standing. Indeed, to give back to the association, I organized three annual WiG conferences in St. Augustine, Florida, in the 1990s.

Since its first publication, I have watched the Yearbook evolve into a major scholarly publication in the field of German and Gender Studies as [End Page 19] it increasingly gained respect in scholarly circles. In my view, the dissemination of its scholarly articles contributed in many ways to the expansion in US academia of Women’s Studies into Gender Studies, a field that became widely accepted in the 1990s. Moreover, it was a powerful force in rethinking Germanistik and its traditional canon, as well as insisting on gender as a category of analysis. I was glad, however, that the focus of the Yearbook remained on feminist issues during my tenure as co-editor, since women still struggle for equal status in the profession, which remains tentative at most. In a time that many pundits have named the post-feminist era, there must be a publication with a strong voice in the debate on gender equality and gender differences.

The administrators at my university, the University of Illinois at Chicago, realized that my editorship of this fine journal would enhance the institution’s status and visibility and thus provided a full three-year stipend for an editorial assistant, as well as a larger office for me during my tenure as co-editor. Liz Kauder, née Frye, a graduate student in Germanic Studies at UIC, was enlisted for the position of editorial assistant. She performed invaluable work, especially in maintaining the calendar, corresponding, and faithfully applying all the rules prescribed by the MLA Handbook to each manuscript to be published. In my view, it is essential to have the aid of such an assistant if the time-consuming editorial work is not to become too heavy a burden on the editors. After Vicki Hoelzer-Maddox, the Yearbook’s copy editor of many years, retired from her position in 2007, Liz was able to step into her position, since her experience as editorial assistant highly qualified her for the work.

I learned the ropes as an editor from my predecessors, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres and Marjorie Gelus, and learned quickly that my work for the journal had many facets that were quite unique. I am happy to report that we never had a dearth of high-quality manuscripts from which to choose. We received many accomplished manuscripts from established scholars in addition to papers from novices from German- and English-speaking countries...


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pp. 19-22
Launched on MUSE
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