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Towards an "American Germanics"?: Editorial Postscript Sara Friedrichsmeyer and Patricia Herminghouse As most members of our profession are probably aware, concern about declining enrollments and lessened support for programs in German has been addressed over the last few years in a number of conferences, often generously supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). At the most recent conference, "Shaping Forces in American Germanics in the Twentieth Century," held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, we offered our perspectives on the role of feminist scholarship and Women in German (WIG) in shaping the profession . We would like to share some of the views we expressed there; while we will be repeating some history familiar to many WIG members, we will be placing that history in a context that, we recognize, is not uncontroversial. As our profession has changed over the past few decades, various terms have been advanced to describe the mechanisms at work. We all know that WIG is very much implicated in one of the processes used to describe those developments: the "feminization" of the profession. Recognizing that for many the word and the strategies it denotes are less than positive, we nevertheless gladly claim agency when the term is used to describe the drive to include women writers in the curriculum and in the canon, when it refers to the increased numbers of women engaged in studying and teaching in the discipline, and when it applies to other areas of the profession where women and women's issues have exerted a demonstrable influence. Here on these pages we would like to explore the part WIG has played in another development, often referred to as the "Americanization " of the profession. Although we doubt that those feminists in the early 1970s who wanted to open the field to new influences framed their goal in terms of an American instead of a German Germanistik, many of their achievements, we believe, have led in that direction. The historical and institutional evolution of feminist German scholarship in this country can, as others have remarked, be traced to the women's movement of the 1970s, itself an outgrowth of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Undoubtedly , it was rooted in the desire for change, in a challenge to an Women in German Yearbook 12 (1996) 234Towards an "American Germanics"? established order. The emerging generation of women Germanists began to indict ingrained practices and habits of mind that had resulted in women's widespread exclusion from the realms of male academic privilege . Some of the few senior women scholars in the profession at that time joined with their younger colleagues and graduate students in calling attention to how few women occupied tenure-line jobs and administrative suites, editorial positions and offices in professional organizations. Together they raised concerns about how this situation affected what literature was researched and taught, indeed which voices were even heard in classes and seminars, and whose works were admitted into the canon. Thus began the work of literary archeology, leading to discoveries of texts by and about women that had been excluded from the purview of the field. From the belated unearthing of women who had written in the Middle Ages to the exhilarating discovery of the literature being produced even in the present, feminist research in the United States began to flourish as women trained in traditional departments gained access, however limited, to academic citizenship. If it is by now axiomatic that feminism and feminist Germanists in this country have helped shape the discipline, this contribution can be seen as a reflection of the progress achieved in the United States by the feminist movement itself. The changes brought about by this movement have affected not only the content, but also the form of our professional activities. Over the years, for example, WIG has developed certain modes of communication involving a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. These are, in fact, among the most deeply held principles of the organization, yet they have always been more typical of American feminism than of mainstream Germanistik. Our inclusion of all ranks of the profession in WIG activities, our WIG newsletter, and the widely read Internet WIG-List all exemplify this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2578-5192
Print ISSN
2578-5206
Pages
pp. 233-239
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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