December 1974 Newsletter


December 1974 Newsletter


Feminism; Germanists; Congresses


December 10, 1974

NEWS from Women in Germanistik                        

We exist. As planned, we met this fall in St. Louis in conjunction with the Midwest MLA. Response to our notice in the AATG Newsletter was very enthusiastic, and it is clear that our group is meeting a definite need. We women in Germanistic need to keep in touch with others in our discipline. We need to know who we are, where we are located and what we are doing in our teaching and research, especially in relation to women’s studies. Therefore, we have decided to establish a newsletter of our own which a group at Wisconsin will put together and send out from time to time. This is the first issue.

First, several important announcements:

(1) At the next annual meeting of the AATG (Thanksgiving 1975 in Washington, D.C.) there will be a section of "Women and Germanistik." The format allows for two to three (short) papers and a panel discussion. All members of the profession, including graduate students, are cordially invited to submit papers, abstracts or suggestions. For this first meeting of its kind, preference will be given to position papers, introductory or methodological treatments or surveys, rather than to narrowly focused papers, although the latter will be considered too. The main criterion is quality. Topics to be treated might include: the methodology of feminist criticism; neglected women writers; feminist revisions of accepted interpretations; women scholars; the status of women in the profession; sexism in textbooks. For further information please contact the chairperson:

Gisela E. Bahr
Department of German,
Russian, and East Asian Languages
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio U5056

(2) Pat Herminghouse of Washington University (St. Louis) has contacted the editors of several Germanistik journals for our group. At this time we have reasonable assurance that an entire issue of one of these journals will be devoted to the topic of "Women and Germanistik." This issue will probably appear in the Spring of 1976. For this reason, we should be thinking seriously about potential contributions and getting these into shape. In preparing papers, we suggest that you follow the AATG guidelines listed above. Since many of these topics are new, it might be advantageous for people to pool information and ideas: to work together, rather than alone.

(3) A workshop on International Feminist Criticism is being planned by the Women's Caucus for the Modern Languages (Midwest branch) at the MMLA next fall in Chicago. They are especially eager to hear from women who could give


presentations on Feminist Criticism in Germany.

Mary Helen Becker

(4) The next meeting of our coalition will take place in
conjunction with the MLA in New York City:

Friday morning, Dec. 27, 10:30-12:30 in VENDOME 10, Americana.


Please save this information and note it down: this meeting was not announced in the official program of the MLA but will be included in the supplement [ ] to be distributed at the meeting. If you lose the information, check the bulletin hoards.

Next, some proposals for what our group can accomplish:

(1) Through cur Newsletter we can function as an information exchange center.

The Newsletter is eager to publish:

(a)   descriptions and text lists of courses which pertain to our interest in Women and Germanistik. This includes projected courses as well as those that have already been taught. We would also like to hear about your experiences in teaching these courses: things that have worked as well as those that have failed. In this way we can learn from each other.

(b)   reports of research in progress: articles, dissertations, books.

(c)   suggestions for research. Since the amount of work still to be done is almost overwhelming, and since no one of us can do it all, it makes sense for us to pool our information and call attention to unexplored areas that we come across in our own research.

(d)   suggestions for translations of works by and about women. Those teaching German Literature in Translation will already be aware of the need for such texts. Anyone interested in translating should also contact us. The Newsletter can help people with similar interests get in touch with each other.


(e)   bibliography exchange. Please send in brief descriptions of old and new books and articles focusing on any aspect of Women and Germanistik. These contributions will not only appear in the Newsletter, but will also be circulated at a workshop of the MMLA in Chicago in the fall of 1975. This workshop is being planned by the Women’s Caucus as a bibliography exchange for women in all of the modern languages. After this meeting, the Newsletter will publicize the information relevant to our discipline. Hopefully, this kind of exchange will be an on-going project of our group.

(f)   resource information. If you know of any collections of documents, books, films, journals or newspapers relating to women in Germanistik, please contact the Newsletter. We have already received information about a "large and unique . collection of women’s studies material in the Spencer Library at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, known as the Gerritsen Collection. The core of the collection was assembled by the first woman physician in the Netherlands, a Dr. Aletta H. Jacobs (1854-1929), who concentrated on works in GERMAN, French, and Dutch, and apparently bought any title she discovered dealing with any phase of the'Frauenfrage during her career in Amsterdam and her extensive travels in behalf of feminism around the turn of the century." This information was sent in by Carol D. Worth, who has prepared an overall description of the collection, soon to appear in Feminist Studies.

(2) We can also provide a sounding board for questions with which we are all struggling. For instance:

(a)   What does it mean to be identified as a feminist in Germanistik? What are the problems and possibilities?

(b)   How can we establish contact with women’s studies programs?

(c)   How can we best deal with sexism in textbooks? Send in examples you encounter while teaching and we will publish them. Can we write our own texts?
How can we get these published?


(d) How can we encourage section leaders to invite women to contribute papers to sections of the MLA and other conferences?

(e)   How can we encourage women to speak up at meetings?

(f)   How can women become more directly involved in governing the sections at the MLA? This may require some planning on our part.

(g)   Should we urge the AATG to create a permanent section or seminar on Women and Germanistik? To meet every year? Every other year?

(h)   There has been some talk of a survey to study the status of women in Germanistik on every level, from high school to university, including women graduate students. What questions would you like to see on such a survey?
Would you be willing to help administer it? In what capacity? Should the AATG be tapped to fund this?

(i)   Would you be in favor of a week-end workshop? If so, when? where? What would we want to talk about specifically?

(j)   What else could this coalition do? Should we act as a pressure group? If so, how? In what direction?

As you can see, our coalition and this Newsletter, which is its voice, have myriad possibilities within Germanistik. Everything remains to be done.
In this regard, please note that this Newsletter is in no way intended to replace Concerns, the publication of the Women’s Coalition of the Modern Languages.
In fact, if you are not already a member, we urge you to join and work with the Women’s Caucus on the national as well as the local level. Our group and the Newsletter are merely intended as a supplement to strengthen the ties among those of us in Germanistik and to provide us with a forum related specifically to our discipline. Often, we are the only woman professor in the department; graduate students frequently are without women faculty of any kind. To break this isolation we must communicate. We hope to see you in New York, and/or to hear from you soon. Send ideas, comments, questions.

Evelyn Torton Beck and Nancy Vedder Shults

Contributions to the Newsletter should be sent to:

Evelyn Torton Beck
German Department
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin 53706





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Unknown, “December 1974 Newsletter,” Women in German Herstory Project, accessed October 2, 2022,