Editorial: Setting Out into the Second Decade of the Twenty-First Century

When, in 2009, its tenth anniversary had come and gone, CURRENT OBJECTIVES OF POSTGRADUATE AMERICAN STUDIES (COPAS) found little time to celebrate or dwell on past achievements. Rather, the journal focused firmly on the recent topical and theoretical research projects its readers have come to expect from it, with its name serving as the briefest of mission statements. The postgraduate community in American Studies has expanded and become stronger in these recent years, as the ever-increasing interest and the rising participation in the annual Postgraduate Forum (PGF) shows, and COPAS has worked hard with every new issue to reflect this development for an equally growing readership.

COPAS is not only seeking to strengthen the network of young Americanists in Germany and present their work to an international audience, but also aims at increasing its international visibility and networking resources. One successful way pursue this goal is our affiliation with the American Studies Association (ASA) international journal initiative. Since 2005, the editors have regularly attended the business meetings of international American Studies journals during the ASA annual conventions. As the ASA annual meeting has proved to be an excellent forum to bring COPAS to the attention of an international audience and establish more partnerships, we will continue to represent COPAS at future conventions. At COPAS, we want to continue to widen the circle of contributors from all areas, scientific and regional. We are working on further connecting our e-journal on a national and international scale in order to continually expand the knowledge base and network for research and publishing in American Studies. We trust that COPAS will continue to serve as a point of orientation for young Americanists and that, given the changes in the German university system, COPAS will be increasingly able to unfold its potential as the voice of the postgraduate community, reflecting ongoing scholarship and theoretical debates.

COPAS editors spearheaded the organization of two well-received consecutive forums on new publication formats during the annual conventions of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA) in Jena and Berlin, in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Together with the editors of the American Studies Journal, aspeers, and the Forum for Interamerican Research (fiar), we launched the Electronic Publishing and Digital Scholarship Initiative in order to give our forum discussions a more regular format and to further strengthen the perception of electronic publishing both inside and outside the American Studies community. The initiative aims at promoting electronic publishing as a viable form of scholarly exchange. To this end, it presents the various extant journals to potential authors and readers, and it explores new avenues in the development of electronic publications for the academic community in American Studies.

Project History and Vision

COPAS was initially conceived as a publication opportunity for young scholars in American Studies and an easy-to-access platform for scholarly exchange. Its first issue was launched following the 1999 Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the DGfA in Regensburg and supported with funds from from the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie (BAA). The journal remains devoted to research by young Americanists in Germany. Currently, Ingrid Gessner, Susanne Leikam, Sascha Pöhlmann, Juliane Schwarz-Bierschenk, and Klara Stephanie Szlezák edit and publish the journal. It is located at the Chair of American Studies at the University of Regensburg.

We designed COPAS as a means of familiarizing readers and contributors with research projects in American Studies at various German universities and to involve them in an ongoing scholarly exchange. The journal assembles contributions to the annual PGF (usually held on a weekend during the fall term). Drawing on this pre-established context of postgraduate exchange, we intend to make the results of postgraduate research accessible to scholars beyond the immediate circle of PGF participants and COPAS contributors. Ideally, our journal would offer a platform for individuals to connect through their research interests and provide opportunities for small group discussion of projects. Further, it would directly match up contributors with other individuals, institutions, or journals that share the respective research interests. At present, we function as conference proceedings for the Postgraduate Forum. Since issue 7, the organizers of the annual PGF conference have devoted their time and energy to COPAS as guest editors—a change in organization that both reflects and strengthens the tie between the postgraduate community and the journal. In their introductory editorial, they usually offer a brief conference report in order to share immediate impressions of the PGF as well as a sketch of their research institution and the theoretical ‘schools’ that their institution is affiliated with. These editorials thus also serve as annual assessments of the state of postgraduate scholarship.

It is our editorial policy to grant this scholarship the freedom it needs to thrive in its state of diversity and experimentation. We consider two areas to be central to our function as main editors: firstly, to provide and expand on networking opportunities and, secondly, to extensively review the contributions submitted, which also includes ample practical feedback on content, methods, or theories. We see our actual editing of contributions as a service to our peers, some of whom may be submitting to a scholarly journal for the first time. All of us have long-standing experience in revising and copy-editing manuscripts and gladly donate our expertise to the contributors of COPAS.

We highly (but not blindly) trust the professional standards of our authors. They contribute original work that reflects their ongoing research or further scholarly interests they pursue. Authors accept responsibility for content and form of their papers as there will be no blind review process. After the articles are read by the editorial team and by the guest editors, we redirect our feedback to authors asking to consider our suggestions for alterations in the text.

Scope and Procedures

COPAS publishes papers from the various areas of American Studies, such as literature, history, popular culture and media cultures, visual culture, political science, sociology, and geography, as well as papers from other areas that could be of interest to the American Studies community. Guidelines for formatting and length can be found in the style-sheet available on the COPAS website, and document templates are available upon request.

In recent years, COPAS has put the tenet of scholarly feedback and networking at the center of its mission. As a consequence, only presentations of the respective PGF were considered for publication. Yet, we are open to all projects presenting postgraduate work. Departments interested in presenting their research projects are kindly asked to contact the editors.

We hope all of our readers will enjoy this and the subsequent issues of COPAS.

Regensburg, April 2011

Ingrid Gessner, Susanne Leikam, Sascha Pöhlmann, Juliane Schwarz-Bierschenk, and Klara Stephanie Szlezák