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Why can’t we just be People in German Studies?

‘In a situation where brilliant female professors are leading German Studies in the UK and Ireland, where part-time women are accepted as part of the mainstream German Studies community, where gender studies are taken seriously as part of the academic German Studies mainstream, why do we still need Women in German Studies? Why do we need WiGS at all, when we could all be PIGS?’
I posted my thoughts on the 2013 WIGS committee meeting to my personal blog. These are my own reflections on why WIGS is important – not the official WIGS view!

Helen Finch

In 1988 women were scarcely visible in German studies in the UK. In 1988 there was only one woman chair-holder in the whole of the British Isles and that was Eda Sagarra, Professor of Germanic Languages at Trinity College Dublin. The CUTG (Conference of University Teachers of German of Great Britain and Ireland) published a listing of members which showed that in 1988 exactly a third of all university German departments had no woman on their  staff at all, though the student body was then, as now, largely female.

I was lucky enough to be taught by Eda Sagarra all the way through my TCD German degree. As well as being an impressive intellectual with a daunting understanding of the social roots of German and Austrian literature, Professor Sagarra had a breezy, steely attitude to the world at large, and modelled a fantastic feminism for her students. ‘Wir sind ja…

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About Helen Finch

I am an Associate Professor in German at the University of Leeds, a Dubliner and a reader. Occasionally I blog about books and culture, with a German theme.


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