Gender & History, an internationally acclaimed journal, has come to call VIU home for the next five years. The publication focuses on the interconnectivity of its two titular subjects from sources around the world.
The journal started in 1989 as a collaborative work by two historians, one in the United States and one in England. Since then the dual ownership of the publication has remained the same, with an office in North America and an office in Europe. Each location can host the journal for five years, with an option to renew for another five years. When the spot for the North American office opened up, VIU was an obvious choice for History professor Dr. Cheryl Warsh.
“What happened was I saw the call,” Dr. Warsh said. “And they were looking for a team of three gender historians, somewhere in North America, to replace the previous team which were in Minnesota. And I thought ‘Hey, we’ve got three gender historians in our little department.’ So, I asked my other two gender historians, and they said ‘sure, let’s jump in and try’.”
Those “other two” are Dr. Katharine Rollwagen and Dr. Cathryn Spence. Together with Dr. Warsh, they are the new editors of Gender & History. Joining the team through a work-op are students Lindsay Church and Emily Martin. And all five have hit the ground running. Due to the publication structure of the journal, the VIU team has inherited many articles that were originally sent to the previous North American office. Submissions are still coming in, averaging two articles a week sent to the team for review. On top of reading and editing submissions, the team has a set of tasks largely unique to this journal.
“The other thing with this collective [is] they want the collective to meet, as opposed to just being on the board,” Dr. Warsh said. “So what we try and do is get collective members who live close to here so when we do have these meetings, they can physically come. For those that can’t there’s electronic ways, like Skype. But it is nice to have real people come for that face-to-face network.”
In a country as large as Canada, face-to-face networking is a challenge, one the journal isn’t quite used to. In its near thirty-year history, this is the first time the journal has been hosted in Canada. The team is well aware of the opportunity this gives them to bring a spotlight to the Canadian narrative of gender history.
“We are focusing on trying to bring people onto the collective who are Canadian scholars,” Dr. Rollwagen said. “Really putting VIU in that wider network of university scholars and focusing on Canadian scholars in particular, to bring them into that network. Cheryl and I are both Canadian historians, so I think though our networks, soliciting papers from academics and graduates students, we’ll have more Canadian content.”
But the size of Canada does not match the potential size of submissions.
“When it comes to getting submissions, it’s a really small country in the sense that there are only so many Canadian historians,” Dr. Warsh said. “And then there are only so many gender historians. And there are only so many who are doing work. Between the three of us, we pretty well know everyone. And you know them, they know people who are more senior, they know people who are up and coming, and they all have students. So it’s a really great network. We’re also going to conferences where we’re seeing other people.”
One of the upcoming conferences they plan to attend is the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted at UBC in 2019.
“So what we’re going to do is [we’re] going to take our little banner,” Dr. Warsh said. “And we’re going to set ourselves up, we’re going to have a presence, we’re going to network. We’re going to encourage people to submit. Because the other part that’s unique to this journal is that it’s not just North America. We want to get articles from people in Asia, in Africa, all over the world. So you have to build upon a bigger network. So wherever we can find people who might have contacts somewhere else, that’s what we work on.”
For student Lindsay Church, the opportunities presented by work on the journal have been exceptional.
“I find it excitingly overwhelming. Because I’m working on something that I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do until I’m getting into my PhD. And I’m seeing how professors work, which is something I aspire to do. But on top of that I’m communicating with professors from around the world who are writing pieces and seeing the writing from the very start to the very end. Which is kind of exciting when you are used to reading the published work, and you see it come in at the first draft. I mean, it’s still good, but seeing the editing that’s done makes it feel less unattainable. To think that one day I might write something that could get into the journal.”
Church and fellow student Emily Martin have been a part of the team since early on, and have had a hand in the editing and communication with authors.
“At first I remember just feeling like ‘I’m going to say something weird and they’re going to think I’m strange.’ But they become more human and that makes it exciting,” Church said. “I’ve found also, as we’re reading articles in class, I’m knowing names a bit more. Because I’m not just reading the article, I’m reading more critically. You’re able to break it down and go ‘I know what they’re doing here.’ I’m able to read the article and not just think it’s published so it’s perfect.”
Martin also sees the growth in skills that will benefit a career in the field.
“It’s definitely helping me hone skills that I feel I can use later down the road,” Martin said. “And also it’s just fascinating to, once again, see the process of the articles but also see the subject matter. Because gender and history is a subject that is still quite new and it’s interesting to see this burgeoning area of research just grow.”
The team is already planning to accept the five year extension on top of the five years they have with the journal, which leads to the question of what to do about student work ops as Church and Martin graduate and move forward.
“In a perfect world, Lindsay will pass the torch to Emily and Emily will become the primary correspondent person doing all the pipeline stuff and she will then mentor another student who starts next year, and it will keep the process going.” Warsh said.
The search for that student is already underway.
“Someone who has exceptional writing skills, that writes really good papers,” Warsh said. “The three of us have kind of stepped back from student interaction, and we are looking for people for the future. We want someone who’s ideally entering a first class student entering third year, fourth year if necessary, because we want to have continuity if we can. We need somebody who has some experience in history courses, but they don’t have to be [a] history major. We were also thinking creative writing major. Really anyone who has a kind of understanding of history and gender studies on a basic level.”
Associate Editor Lys has lost count of what year he’s in at Vancouver Island University and is trying to finish one project before he graduates. His work is featured in Portal, Rebel Mountain Press Disabled Voices, and TransFocus. He is the recipient of the 2018 Mike Matthews Humorous Rant award.View all articles