Academic journal article German Quarterly

Note from the editor

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Note from the editor

Article excerpt

Happy New Year!

After the year-long excitement over the turn of the century and the advent of the new millennium, a break with established procedures seems in order. The brighter color of the first Y2K issue of GQ suggests ever so modestly the beginning of what may (or may not) be a new era. So do the statements and reflections on the role and the potential of our disciplines) at this point in history, solicited from the GQ Editorial Board and colleagues at different stages of their careers.

There is some indication that the profession and its journal may be entering a new, more hopeful phase: This year's MLA Job Information List announced approximately 90 positions in German and Scandinavian, an all-time high in recent decades. Yet, despite the new opportunities opening up we must remain cautious. According to recent statistics German enrollments went down from 133,348 in 1990 to 96,263 in 1995 (a 28% decrease) to 89,020 in 1999 (an additional 8% decrease)-a total decline of 33% in 9 years. Clearly, this year's record number of positions on all levels does not mark the end of the by-now permanent crisis the profession has faced since the early seventies.

Nonetheless, the current employment situation represents a reprieve for job seekers and employers. While some of the reasons for the upward trend in the job market are evident-retirements and colleagues leaving the field-other factors may indeed be a reassessment of the role of the humanities within academe and the repositioning that has taken place within German literary and cultural studies over the last decade or so. Departments of German and German Studies are taking a more active role advocating for themselves within their universities and in the larger profession, and they are reaching across the traditional institutional boundaries to establish ties not only with other academic disciplines but also with the larger community. A look at the types of positions advertised this year reveals priorities indicative of the new directions departments and programs of German are taking.

Over the decades, German Quarterly has mirrored the changing and growing profession. The field of German Studies in the broadest sense-literary, cultural, linguistic-has recast and reinvented itself more than once. In tandem with larger social and political transformations that have affected the profession, German Quarterly has evolved over time, as is readily apparent from the changes in appearance, format, and content since the journal's inception on the eve of the Great Depression. Since the first issue of January 1928, the scope and academic rigor of German Quarterly have increased tremendously, in keeping with the broadening of its theoretical and ideological basis. From the more elementary and, as it may appear from today's point of view, modest contributions of the early years, GQ has set increasingly high scholarly standards. When in the 1930s and '40s prominent exile scholars from Nazi Germany and Austria entered the profession in the United States, GQ benefitted tremendously from their contributions and was taken to new levels of sophistication. Informed by the perspective and experience of its new, often prominent, contributors, the journal's focus at that time was Eurocentric, and German was the predominant language of publication. This general direction did not change in the immediate postwar era. Immigrants from German-speaking countries continued to shape the profession and set the tone in GQ.

Only gradually did German Studies in the United States begin to articulate its distinct perspective as a discipline situated in an Anglophone environment, a discipline whose role and function was determined within US academic history. …

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