As spring arrives, albeit with a little delay here in Philadelphia, it is time to write my first column for the Newsletter in my new role as President of the Society—though I’ve been involved in the association over the past decades in other capacities, as Director-at-Large and Book Review Editor, and have participated, like many of us, in each and every Atkins conference. I am truly honored to have been elected by the membership first as Vice President and now as President, and am dedicated to serving and fostering what I (and I am definitely not alone in this) believe is the best and most vital scholarly association. Your activities related to Goethe and his age prove that our field is flourishing, diverse, and fruitful. I am very excited to work alongside the other members of the Executive Board, including the most recently elected officers: Heather Sullivan (Vice President), Bill Carter (Treasurer), and Vance Byrd and Eleanor ter Horst (Directors-at-Large). I am also exceedingly grateful to past President Daniel Purdy for his quantities of support, good cheer, and advice.
A big part of what makes the GSNA exceptional is that it is so open and welcoming to scholars at all stages of their careers, from graduate students who present at the Atkins conference or participate in the dissertation workshops, to emeritus colleagues who hail from all kinds of institutions, including independent scholars. At a moment when the humanities, and especially language and literature programs, are under ever greater pressure at many of our institutions, it is all the more important to join together in celebrating the innovative collaborations, conversations, and publications that have been made possible by the GSNA and that cross so many disciplinary and geographical borders. Indeed, one of the ideas that emerged from the last Atkins conference was to find a productive way of opening the conference to participation by undergraduate students as well as graduate students. I am fairly certain that I would never have made my own way into Goethe Studies if I had not been the beneficiary of Roger Stephenson’s charismatic teaching and encouragement when I was an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow. Do remember to spread the word about the GSNA: for graduate students it is the best deal in town at $10.60 for annual membership.
Please let us know about your activities and accomplishments. I would like to mention two richly-deserved awards in closing this column.
Director-at-Large Vance Byrd has recently been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship. These fellowships allow scholars in humanistic fields to obtain additional formal training to conduct high-quality interdisciplinary projects. Vance’s project, “Handmade History: Panoramas and Nineteenth-Century Global Cultures of Commemoration,” will examine the untold history of the transatlantic business of memorials of the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian war, which contributed to American national identity, the formation of the German empire, and the complicated legacies of race, slavery, and colonialism in both countries. The award will allow Vance to study art history and Civil War history during a year-long leave spent at Northwestern University.
In recognition of his groundbreaking contributions to Goethe scholarship, David Wellbery will receive the Golden Goethe Medal from the Goethe Society on June 13, 2019, at the Nationaltheater in Weimar.
Congratulations, on behalf of the Society!
University of Pennsylvania