By the EGS team
We’ve made a lot of changes, and we hope you enjoy looking through the newly designed pages. This summer has been a time of thoughtful reflection and exchange within the EGS collective, as we sought to overhaul the website and build a new version that is broader, more inclusive and more accessible. Since the beginning, our goal has been to provide a resource to help teachers of German Studies deliver a more diverse curriculum, to amplify a broad range of perspectives that have historically gone unheard in the classroom, and through this, to promote greater diversity within the field and new directions in German Studies research.
Plans for the redesign have been in the pipeline for a while: we were becoming uncomfortable with the lack of nuance within the categories we were using, some of which were becoming unwieldy. The survey we distributed helped us identify further areas for improvement, and we would like to thank all those who took the time to fill it out: your input on how you use the website, which features are most useful and what you would like to see more of were invaluable. We have addressed some of the gaps in coverage pointed out by survey respondents (such as Black German Studies and citizenship), and have implemented a new, more powerful search tool designed to help users more accurately find content.
As well as a fabulous visual redesign, the entries in the bibliography have been reorganised into new categories. We recognise the inherently problematic nature of categorisation, and that no system can ever be perfect or representative. The reason we are using categories at all is a pragmatic one: we wanted to help busy lecturers working and curious students find interesting classroom material as quickly and easily as possible. Although WordPress encourages a visual presentation that implies the mutual exclusivity of categories (into separate ‘boxes’), we have tried to highlight the porous and overlapping nature of them via the thread imagery, by cross-referencing and listing the same item in multiple places, where applicable, and providing an overall menu that allows all categories to be seen at a glance. We also attempted to de-hierarchise by arranging the fields of scholarship alphabetically, to make allowances for entries which do not fit neatly into any one box, and to leave open the possibility of adding new categories.
The bibliography has been reorganised firstly by broad historical periods (inspired in part by the model used by blackcentraleurope.com), and then—in an effort to encourage engagement with theoretical and pedagogical innovation rather than mere substitution of listed primary materials into existing syllabi—by fields of scholarship (e.g. Asian German Studies), rather than the oftentimes ascribed identity of the cultural producer. Where possible, we begin each sub-category by linking to a reflective blog post or article on the state of the field by colleagues in the UK and the DDGC in North America. In many cases, these fields of scholarship transcend historical categories and we have tried to cross-reference other periods, where applicable. In response to user feedback, we also listed primary texts by medium and highlighted the various languages in which material is available (acknowledging the growing interest in teaching German-language literature in translation in cross-listed and Comparative Literature modules). Both of these changes have helped highlight areas for development. Not least, we have dramatically expanded the number of entries, focusing initially on the pre-1500, 1750-1850 and post-2000 periods. The categories we chose were reached by consensus and via rigorous critical debate, a debate which we feel is essential to the ongoing work of reflecting on the gaps in our understandings and perspectives and working collectively in our attempt to present a breadth of perspectives in German culture and in German Studies teaching and scholarship. In this vein, we absolutely welcome feedback, comments and suggestions (positive and negative) about the way in which we have chosen to structure the bibliography. Our website is an ongoing, collaborative project in which we aim to include as much of the German Studies community (and beyond) as we can: a plurality of voices can only strengthen our efforts!
Our conversations over the summer also resulted in the decision to change our name to EGS – towards an Equitable German Studies. We have grown uncomfortable with the colonialist connotations of “expanding”, and preferred the sense in equitable of the injustice done to silenced minority voices, which should always have been taught as prominently as any others. We reject an additive approach, striving instead for equitability within the discipline. And much like the design of Daniel Quasar’s progress flag, with the term towards we recognise that ours is an ongoing, forward-looking project which will always by necessity be incomplete, and that we must consistently undertake the labour required to address current inequalities. We contend that this labour should be undertaken by all members of the German Studies community, and not left to already marginalised figures or groups. On this note, we also acknowledge that the EGS team members’ varying degrees of institutional affiliation have provided us with the material resources to be able to do some of this work on a voluntary basis.
Ronald M Schernikau. Source: jungewelt.de. Read more about queer and trans German studies here.
In this spirit, there is always much work to be done on the website, and much more content to come! Some of the time periods and categories are not yet online; some of the bibliography entries are not as comprehensively filled out as others. We are also actively exploring how to make our resource fully accessible to those using assistive technologies. Our work continues, and we aim to publish more and more of the website over the coming months. Once again, if you would like to help with effort, feel free to submit entries to the bibliography or to get in touch!
Finally, we aim not only to provide a bibliographic resource for German Studies lecturers seeking to deliver equitable curricula, but also a forum for experiences and best practices. Our blog contains lots of great tips and accounts from lecturers, and if you haven’t already done so, we encourage you to look back at previous entries and be inspired! We are always keen to hear from folks who would like to contribute to the blog, so if this is you, please do send us an email.
Thank you from all of us for visiting and using the site!