INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
'Journal of Women’s History' coming to Binghamton
By : Eric Coker
The premier journal in the field of women’s history will soon call Binghamton University home.
The University will serve as the editorial host of the Journal of Women’s History, a quarterly publication founded in 1989, beginning in the spring of 2010. Jean Quataert, professor of history, and Leigh Ann Wheeler, associate professor of history, will co-edit the journal. The editorial team also includes Elisa Camiscioli, associate professor of history, as book review editor; Benita Roth, associate professor of sociology, as associate editor; and two graduate assistants.
“What’s exciting about this is that it gives us an opportunity to shape the field and nurture new scholars,” Wheeler said. “It’s an incredibly important tool that will bring a lot of visibility to the program.”
The University, which kicked off the partnership Oct. 14 with a lecture on the terrorizing of women in the Bangladesh war of 1971, has a long commitment to women’s history. It has one of the oldest PhD programs in women’s history, having been founded in 1974, and features a women’s studies program with more than 30 faculty members. Quataert is a pioneer in the field, bringing German women’s history into focus in the 1970s.
“It’s an extraordinary opportunity,” Quataert said. “I began in history when there was no women’s history. The idea that I can end my career now editing the journal that comes out of the field that I was a pioneer in is really appealing. It’s very exciting.”
Quataert and Wheeler initially came up with a one-page explanation about why Binghamton University should compete to host the journal. Provost Mary Ann Swain endorsed the idea and the editorial team wrote a detailed proposal that, through 16 drafts, highlighted their vision, backgrounds and the strengths of Binghamton University.
The team learned last spring that the University would become the journal’s editorial home from 2010-2015. The collaboration among the team members was key to the proposal, Wheeler said.
“Our group worked so well together,” she said. “Everyone did their work. You knew you were investing in a project that you weren’t doing alone. … It was hard, hard work, but it was fun.”
“I think what helped us was the quality of the scholarship, the quality of the colleagues and the quality of the vision,” Quataert said.
One vision the editorial team is emphasizing is online content, something missing from the current Journal of Women’s History. Wheeler and Quataert see the Internet as a way for the journal to reach a wider audience via submissions, forums and feedback. Binghamton University’s Global Academic Publishing is designing the site, which Wheeler and Quataert also see as a way to increase communication among the journal’s 50-member international board of scholars.
“We want to create opportunities for interaction between authors and audience and also raise the visibility of the journal,” Wheeler said.
On the print side, Quataert and Wheeler hope to stress broader thinking and highlight the work of younger scholars.
“We want to encourage authors to think about the international context of their work,” Wheeler said. “We want people whose scholarship is on the other side of the world to read the piece and suggest ways for the author to connect what they are doing to other areas of the world.”
Quataert and Wheeler also would like to extend the international focus to conferences outside of the United States. They see Istanbul, Turkey, and Bogotá, Colombia, as two places that could host women’s history conferences.
The Journal of Women’s History will benefit the University and the region in many ways, Quataert and Wheeler said. Besides the enhanced visibility and influence in the field of women’s history, the University will also benefit financially from the partnership.
The journal, which has its own operating budget, is published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which sells publication rights to an academic database called Project MUSE. A sizable portion of those proceeds support production of the journal at Binghamton, Wheeler said.
The editorial team also will draw upon the expertise of local and upstate scholars through a campus-based interdisciplinary board and a local advisory board of historians.
The Binghamton group will work with the current host, the University of Illinois, on a transition and officially take over the journal in May-June 2010. The first issue solely created through Binghamton will likely come out in early 2011.
The Binghamton University administration deserves credit for the early and consistent backing of the project, Quataert said.
“It speaks well of the administration that they are willing to support this journal,” she said. “They’ve made a commitment to enhancing the intellectual life of this campus. They’ve made a commitment to interdisciplinary discourses.”
That commitment will only enhance Binghamton’s academic reputation, Quataert said.
“The perspective of women, gender and sexuality is not always in the mainstream,” she said. “Binghamton will be at the forefront of new knowledges that are produced around interdisciplinary inquiries on women’s lives. I think that’s a good thing.”