February 1975 Newsletter
NEWS FROM WOMEN IN GERMAN
Number 2 February 1, 1975
Our caucus has a new title. We are no longer Women in Germanistik but Women in German. This change of title is not capricious, but reflects our own growing awareness of the fact that language matters. Germanistik is the name of our discipline on the college and university level. However, we want to establish communication with all teachers of German. Therefore, we have decided to use a more neutral, all-inclusive term.
A word of explanation for those who may be seeing this newsletter for the first time. Its purpose is to facilitate communication among women in german and stimulate research in relation to women’s studies. The newsletter is put together by a group at the University of Wisconsin: Angelika Bammer, Evelyn T. Beck, Kay Goodman, Nancy Vedder Shults, and Christa Stutius. Anyone who is interested in working with this group or receiving the newsletter should write to NEWS from Women in German, c/o Evelyn T. Beck, Dept. of German, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.
Sexism in Textbooks
We have become increasingly aware that the majority of German teachers are women. At the MLA in New York we decided to take advantage of this fact. If we work together, we can have a direct effect in fighting sexism in textbooks. In pursuing this goal we urgently need feminist critiques of those textbooks which are most frequently used. For example: although we have not thoroughly, examined Lohnes and Strothmann, German: A Structural Approach, anyone who has taught beginning German in conjunction with this textbook is aware of its blatant sexism. The most obvious sexist remarks and stereotypes occur in the reading passages, especially in the mouth of the main character, Schmidt-Ingelheim, but also earlier: Erika wants to marry; but Hans wants to study. "Sie wissen ja, wie Frauen sind." Even exercise material is not neutral: "Sie ist nicht nur schön, sondern auch
intelligent!" At the University of Wisconsin-Madison we have changed from Lohnes and Strothmann to Vail and Sparks, Modern German for our first year program. In our opinion this second text is much less reprehensible in its treatment of women.
We are collecting feminist critiques of textbooks which are currently in use. For this we need your cooperation. Please send us critiques of those texts with which you are familiar. If you do not have time for a lengthy review, simply return the questionnaire which we have appended to the newsletter. We will use the material you send us as the basis for petitions to editors and publishers of German texts. We realize that this is only a first step. Ultimately we will have to write new texts.
There will be a short, informal meeting of New England Women in German at the New England AATG Conference, May 3 at Brown University. After discussing the need for regional meetings at the MLA, we are pleased to announce that Pat Russian (Brown University) has already organized the first such get-together for New England. Contact betwen women in each geographical area is one of the first goals we need to achieve. Decisions about what directions we want to take as a group can only be reached after we have become acquainted with each other and our respective situations. Therefore, if anyone is interested in organizing Women in German meetings in the South and the West, either at regional AATG or MLA conferences, please let us know and we will publicize them in News. Another way of organizing is through the newsletter itself: if professors could provide us with the names of graduate women in their departments or other people who would be interested in Women in German, we will add them to our mailing list.
The need for work in Women's Studies has gained a great deal of recognition. However, it is. equally important for us to maintain close ties with the traditional
seminars and sections in our professional organizations. It must become a matter of course that women give papers and lead sections. To some extent this is beginning to happen. At the last MLA Evelyn T. Beck (University of Wisconsin-Madison) was elected secretary of German 5 (Modern German Literature) for 1975, which means she will chair the section in 1976. Helen Fehervary (Ohio State) will be co-chairing the Marxist Literary Group in the Midwest. German 5 consists of several short papers on a single theme. The Marxist literary group sponsors a number of workshops in conjunction with the Midwest MLA which next meets in Chicago in 1975. Evelyn and Helen are both open to suggestions for topics for their respective sessions. We would like to publicize all such information. If you know of any other women who will be chairing sessions in German at any national or regional meeting, please let us know.
Seminar in Feminist Pedagogy
Some concrete results from our meeting at the MLA in New York: we have created a new seminar to discuss methodological and pedagogical problems of teaching "traditional" material in German literature from a feminist perspective. Pat Russian (Brown University) and Pat Herminghohse (Washington University) will be coordinating this seminar. The topic will be the teaching of the "Bürgerliches Trauerspiel" and we will focus specifically on Maria Magdalene and Kabale und Liebe. No papers will be given, since the entire seminar will be devoted to discussion. Therefore, please be prepared to talk about these texts from a feminist perspective.
A seminar on Women in Contemporary German Literature: East and West will be offered from June l6-July 11 at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) by Christiane E. Keck. The seminar, which is part of a larger program, Perspectives on Modern Germany, may be taken separately for three hours of credit; it is
open to graduates and undergraduates. Readings to include works by Christa Wolf, Anna Seghers, Use Aichinger, and Ingeborg Bachmann; the images of women in works by male writers will also be studied. For further information write directly to Purdue.
In our first newsletter we suggested exchanging bibliographical material relating to women in German. As a result of the interest expressed in such a bibliographical exchange, Naomi Stephen (Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Inidana) has offered to compile and coordinate the material submitted. Any bibliographical information which would be of interest should be sent directly to Naomi. As soon as she has collated the bibliography, we will publish it in our newsletter. This information exchange is an on-going project. So please keep collecting material, and we will periodically update the bibliography.
Visiting Women Writers
The German author Barbara König (Spielerei bei Tage and Schöner Tag, dieser 13.) will be visiting the University of Texas-Austin next year (1975-76) for one semester. This is a good opportunity to invite a woman writer to lecture at various schools. Some of us should get in touch with her either directly or through the German Department in Texas. Unfortunately, we do not have information on the precise dates of her visit.
Also, Karin Stuck (author of Klassenliebe) may be visiting this country next year. We would appreciate more precise information about this possibility.
These are the kinds of items we would like to include in our newsletter on an on-going basis. So if you hear of visits by any German writers or scholars of interest to women, please let us know.
The poetry journal, Women Poetry (Cambridge, Massachusetts) has expressed interest in publishing translations of German (socialist) feminist authors. Is there a German journal that publishes such poetry and might like to reciprocate by publishing translations of the poets associated with this journal? Please send us any relevant information.
New German Critique
New German Critique is eager to publish articles written from a socialist-feminist perspective. Manuscripts should be submitted in triplicate to:
New German Critique
University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201
Note: If you know of any German articles written from this point of view which should be translated, please send the bibliographical details directly to the journal.