Cornell University Library and Cornell University Press Launch German Studies Series

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Cornell University Library and Cornell University Press Launch German Studies Series
Mellon Grant Supports Exploration of Sustainable Publishing Venture

ITHACA, N.Y. (March 4, 2010) – Humanist scholars continue to live by the “publish or perish” rule, which defines the monograph as the gold standard for tenure. Those working on languages and literatures other than English face a double jeopardy, as the market for their books shrinks and many presses cut back on publishing specialized titles.

Now, authors writing on German topics are getting a fresh channel for their scholarship through a new publishing venture at Cornell University that aspires to provide a more stable and sustainable forum for their work. A $50,000 three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help fund the endeavor.

Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought — a new English-language book series covering the literature, culture, criticism and intellectual history of the German-speaking world — will be published in electronic format and in short print runs backed up by trade-quality bound books produced on a print-on-demand basis. The innovative cross-campus model involves extensive collaboration between Cornell University Library, Cornell University Press and Cornell faculty in the Departments of German Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Music and Philosophy. The full text of many of the Signale books will be available online for free.

Signale monographs will undergo the same rigorous editorial and peer-review process as traditional university press-published books, with the expertise of an interdisciplinary board of distinguished Cornell faculty and an advisory board of top scholars in German Studies from North American universities. Topics will range from the early modern period to the present.

“This collaboration among multiple campus entities recognizes the importance and impact of creating space for a discipline that is vitally important to the humanities at large, but also under pressure because of declining monograph sales,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

The Mellon grant includes a provision for business planning for the new series, and the partners at Cornell hope to provide a sustainable business model for publishing in the field that can be replicated in other disciplines facing similar pressures.

“Signale brings the strengths of Cornell’s Press, Library and faculty together in an unprecedented partnership,” said John G. Ackerman, director of Cornell University Press. “As university presses explore new business models for publishing in the digital age, we must seek to partner with others, both within and outside Cornell. Such collaborations are essential to the future health not only of scholarly publishing, but of humanities scholarship itself.”

The series’ first book — entitled “Legal Tender: Love and Legitimacy in the East German Cultural Imagination,” by John Griffith Urang — will be published in May. It will be followed in June by “Paradigms for a Metaphorology,” a key text by the philosopher Hans Blumenberg, originally published in 1963 and made available for the first time in English translation in the Signale series. Books by scholars at the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University will be published later in the year. Additional titles are slated for publication in 2011, with more manuscripts and proposals under review. New submissions are encouraged.

“Signale is a concrete and necessary intervention that will greatly advance scholarship in German Studies,” said Peter Uwe Hohendahl, series editor. “This discipline — as a broad, cross-disciplinary field — is exceptionally strong at Cornell, so it is appropriate that we are undertaking this here, on behalf of the larger community of scholars.”

For more information, visit Signale online or email the managing editor of the series, Kizer Walker.

About Cornell University Library
Cornell University is an Ivy League institution and New York’s land-grant university. Among the top ten academic research libraries in the country, Cornell University Library reflects the university’s distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. The Library offers cutting-edge programs and facilities, a full spectrum of services, extensive collections that represent the depth and breadth of the university, and a deep network of digital resources. Its impact reaches beyond campus boundaries with initiatives that extend the land grant mission to a global focus. To learn more, visit <>.             

About Cornell University Press
Cornell University Press was founded in 1869, giving it the distinction of being the first university press established in the United States. Today it is known for its distinguished lists in a wide range of fields including anthropology, Asian studies, classics, cultural studies, history, literary criticism and theory, medieval studies, politics and international relations, and sociology. The Press has a long tradition of publishing distinguished and award-winning books in European history, literature, and culture. To learn more, visit <>.

A Mellon grant supports the exploration of Cornell's new sustainable publishing venture