These are exciting and important times for those of us who work on women and gender in the early modern period. We no longer represent an entirely new field of inquiry and our work has pushed our various disciplines into a more accepting and sophisticated understanding of the issues we raise. Nonetheless, despite the expanded canon in literature, art and music, despite the increasing recognition that women and gender are crucial components of all phases of early modern history, there remain longstanding biases within most of our disciplines. Those biases may be fading, but they are still found among some tenure committees and some publishers: work on more traditional early modern men and their hegemonic cultures still carries an aura of greater seriousness than work on women and more complex gender issues. Now is the time to address that reality.
Over the past three months your Executive Committee and an ad hoc group of past presidents and officers of SSEMW have been thinking about a plan for our future. How can we, as an organization, encourage not only the best and most productive scholarship and teaching in our various fields, but also advance the visibility of our work and the careers of our members? As the first generation of SSEMW leadership moves toward or past retirement, how can we assure the continuing vitality of the organization and continued excitement over the still new and often visionary and collaborative work we do?
Included in this package is a draft mission and vision statement, with some possible goals for fulfilling that mission and vision. Please take a minute to look it over, and let us know if you think we are on the right track. As part of this process, we are also looking into a plan to have an annual honored scholar. In the past we have occasionally given recognition for special achievement, but we would now like to make this a more consistent part of how we acknowledge and make visible the achievements in our field. We are also asking you, therefore, whether you think this is a good idea, and, if so, to make suggestions of senior scholars in your own discipline who might be considered for this honor. Please include your responses and your most welcome comments on the sheet provided, and return it along with your dues and your votes for officers and committees.
We had another wonderful conference and meeting at our triennial Attending to Early Modern Women conference in Maryland this past November, and there are splendid sessions coming up at the RSA meeting in Miami in March and SCSC in Minneapolis in October, along with sponsored sessions at our various disciplinary conferences. Please continue to support SSEMW-sponsored sessions, and to think about using our access to these meetings to advance your own work. I would ask you particularly to plan to come to the SCSC meeting, where the Executive Committee and SSEMW members meet in years when there is not a triennial meeting in Maryland. This year in Minneapolis is particularly important as we hope and expect to approve a version of the mission and vision statement and our goals for the next several years.
I am deeply honored to serve as SSEMW President for 2007, and look forward to meeting more of you and working with you as we chart an exciting course within and across our various disciplines.
With very best wishes for this new year,