Soon teachers of other Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany asked for copies and production of the Newsletter was transferred to Bonn, then the provisional capital of the FRG. By 1974, 15,000 copies were distributed throughout West Germany but the publication was discontinued due to cuts in the USIS budget.
Nine years later, in September 1983, in a climate of growing disenchantment with the United States in the wake of the 1979 “Dual-Track” decision of NATO and the resulting deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, USIS Bonn relaunched its information tool for teachers under the title American Studies Newsletter. Three issues per year were distributed. The very first focused on the tricentennial of German immigration to America. It contained articles on German-Americans, American education, and American Studies in German secondary education by noted American scholars like Fredrick C. Luebke and Diane Ravitch and by German scholars active in the German Association for American Studies such as Agnes Bretting, Erwin Helms, and Peter Funke. Over the years, the focus on Germany and German-American relations became less pronounced since the ASN began to attract readers throughout the world.
The editor remained anonymous at first, but identified himself in ASN 3 (May 1984) as Jürgen H. Bodenstein of the United States Information Service, American Embassy, Bonn. For the next decade, Dr. Bodenstein was the driving force behind the ASN, continually improving its quality and extending its circulation. From 1996, due to another round of USIS budget cuts and resulting organizational changes, only two issues per year could be published. And yet, with some 20,000 copies printed, the ASN still reached a readership of more than 26,000 educators in 40 countries.
With issue no. 38 (April 1996), the publication changed its name to American Studies Journal and was entrusted to the German Association for American Studies. At that time, I was the president of GAAS and from summer 1997 (no. 40) I acted as editor on behalf of GAAS, working with a small editorial team at the Zentrum für USA-Studien. ZUSAS had been founded on October 31, 1995 at the Leucorea Foundation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg to conduct research on American history, culture, politics, and society. Since the Center for United States Studies regularly conducted continuing education seminars for secondary school teachers that focus on American Studies content in teaching English as a foreign language, the ASJ was seen as a welcome addition to its activities.
Hopes that the scholars organized in the GAAS would embrace the ASJ and would regularly contribute articles directed at a wider readership among secondary school teachers and students proved futile, however. From summer 1999 (no. 43), the American Studies Journal became the exclusive responsibility of the Wittenberg Center. ZUSAS research associate Dr. John Kelly Robison was named editor and worked in that capacity until his return to the United States in 2002. In the editorial of the last issue under his auspices (no. 48, Winter 2001), Dr. Robison expressed hope “that the American Studies Journal will continue to be published without any interruption”. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The Wittenberg Center entered into troubled waters and when it was once again stabilized, the question arose as to whether it still made sense to spend the money needed to print 12,000 paper copies and to have only a small academic institution store and distribute them. This always was a major logistical feat and a challenge to the capacities of what had became, in 2006, a research center of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
The first issue under my editorship, back in 1996, was entitled “The Internet: How it Came About – How it Affects Society – How it Influences Education”. Meanwhile, the internet has changed our lives and no longer needs be explained to teachers and students. It has become a major, if not the major source of information for most of us. Then why not turn the American Studies Journal into an electronic publication? E-journals have become an accepted format. In the field of American Studies, for instance, the European Journal of American Studies (EJAS) went online at http://ejas.revues.org/. And now there is the American Studies Journal at http://www.asjournal.org.
Starting with issue no. 50 (Fall 2007), an editorial team assumed responsibility. Its current members are:
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Grabbe (Universität Halle-Wittenberg)
Prof. Dr. Alfred Hornung (Universität Mainz)
and Dr. Martina Kohl (Embassy of the United States of America, Berlin).
Dipl.-Angl. Carsten Hummel who designed this website is the ASJ Editorial Assistant.
As a kind of electronic amuse gueule we have assembled a “Best of ASJ” collection, presenting once again some of the articles that appeared in print during the last ten years.
Enjoy! And please return to these pages.