2007 was a notable year for EMW: we entered into energetic discussions initiated by Susanne Woods on rethinking and revising our mission statement, which has now been finalized and is presented to you for approval. The revised statement emphasizes that our work encompasses “the scholarship and teaching on women and issues of gender from all parts of the world in the early modern period.” Last year’s Attending to Women, through its focus on topics of masculinity, has already called attention to one aspect of the widening of focus. And the linked sessions on transculturalisms and transnationalisms at both RSA (2007) and MLA (2006) underscore our aspiration to cross national and cultural boundaries in our work. As we look to include scholars from diverse disciplines and different ranks, including graduate students and male scholars who work on women and gender, I would also like to encourage scholars beyond North America to join our organization. One way to accomplish this goal would be to nominate scholars from other parts of the world to serve on our committees; I would welcome your suggestions about other strategies of widening the membership so that we can truly be a global organization that includes members “from all parts of the world.” [The newly instituted life membership (please see dues form), along with the current favorable exchange rate, may facilitate the payment of dues from overseas members.]
I should also mention some other changes in the way we organize our activities: while we continue to hold our annual membership and Executive Board meetings at ATW and the Sixteenth Century Studies conference, we have also begun to meet more informally at other conferences such as the RSA where many of our members are presenting papers. Last spring’s meeting at RSA in Miami was very well attended; a large number of us went out for a wonderful dinner together. We hope to continue these informal exchanges.
Strengthening our already existing fruitful collaboration with Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal (which published its second volume in October) and its editors, Jane Donawerth, Adele Seeff, and Diane Wolfthal, EMW has pledged to support the journal for $2000/year from 2007 to 2009, and will renew this commitment on a yearly basis, assuming that we continue to be able to afford it and the journal continues to be otherwise viable. The journal and society will engage in cooperative efforts to extend our membership and readership (e.g., an invitation to EMW membership in each journal issue and brochures for the journal distributed at EMW events). The Journal is an excellent reflection of the highest quality of scholarship in our field, and is sure to increase interest in the study of women as well as gender issues in the early modern period.
Renewing our association with Brown’s Women’s Writers Project, we co-sponsored the MLA cash bar, which was well attended and an occasion for many of us to see old friends. We have established new affiliations with the American History Association, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians and College Art Association.
Jane Couchman is completing her term as EMW Secretary this year. She was been exemplary in seeing our organization through two three-year terms. Anne Larsen, Professor of French at Hope College, and a scholar of women’s networks in early modern Europe (and a winner of an EMW award for collaborative work), has graciously agreed to step in at the completion of Jane’s term. I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful leadership Susanne Woods has offered EMW as president. She has taken the initiative in revisiting our mission statement, and has generously provided her nonpareil expertise that she has gained as an academic leader for many years. Please join me in also welcoming as incoming Vice President Katherine McIver, Professor of Art History at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and cowinner of this year’s EMW book award. Thank you, Jane and Susanne, for everything you did and do.
Finally, I would like to conclude this letter by describing an exemplary “EMW moment,” which happened when a number of panelists could not attend the EMW roundtable on collaborative scholarship at the Sixteenth Century Studies conference. Betty Hageman stepped in and along with Margaret Hannay, Jane Couchman, Helen Ostovich, and Georgianna Ziegler led a discussion among 20 participants on the advantages of collaboration; possible difficulties within collaborative teams; ways of gaining institutional appreciation/support for collaborative work; and how to make collaboration work. As Betty reported, “People had LOTS of good ideas to contribute in all areas–I wish I had heard this conversation years ago. One major thing on which we all agreed was the need to be generous within one’s team, especially when dealing with younger colleagues–also the need to spell out ahead of time what would be done by whom–and then the need to be flexible/generous if problems arose. FYI: several people spoke of institutional isolation and the desire to make contacts with other EMW people. We observed several people exchanging addresses afterwards.” I think this is a perfect actual example of collaboration among scholars in different disciplines, and between different generations. I hope that we can continue to work together in this way in 2008 and beyond. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how we can make EMW continue to serve its members.
With all best wishes for 2008,