Celebrating the Legacy of Monatshefte Editor Hans Adler

In August 2019 we approached colleagues and Weggefährten of Hans Adler and informed them of Hans’s retirement as Editor and Co-Editor of Monatshefte after nearly two decades of service. Along with good wishes for his retirement sent by Rüdiger Campe, Ritchie Robertson, Gerhard Sauder, and Ulrich Gaier, we received and collected these statements that celebrate Hans and speak to his work not only as an editor, but also his contributions to German Studies more generally.

With all good wishes,

Hannah V. Eldridge and Sonja E. Klocke, Editors, Monatshefte


From Rolf Goebel:

I have had the great pleasure of working with Hans Adler as editor of Monatshefte on several occasions, most recently in connection with publishing an article on Hölderlins Erinnerungsmusik (Hölderlin’s Music of Memory) in the journal. Under Adler’s experienced leadership, Monatshefte, one of the most respected and oldest, perhaps the oldest, venue for German studies in the U.S., has continued to offer a wide range of essays exploring themes in literary criticism, cultural studies, and media theory, exploring classical as well as lesser known or unjustly neglected writers while engaging in important debates on new methodologies. I really cannot think of anyone who did a more thorough copy editing job, responded more quickly to questions, was more patient with my tendency to submit yet another round of minor corrections, and, perhaps most importantly, succeeded in speeding up the peer review process to a degree that other journals would be wise to emulate. During the revise-and-resubmit phase, he knew how to use his admirable gift of academic diplomacy in adjudicating any disagreements between the reviewers’ suggestions and my own defenses. Hans Adler will be dearly missed after stepping down as editor, but I am sure he’ll enjoy the extra time for continuing to pursue his scholarly activities and whatever else he plans to do now! 

Dr. Rolf Goebel, Distinguished Professor of German, The University of Alabama in Huntsville


From John Ferguson:

I’ve had the privilege of working on every issue of Monatshefte with Hans since the fall of 2013. Always the professional, Hans always has time for a quick quip. I think the most valuable thing I learned from him is the value of scholarship and education. When he told me about being a young child in post-WWII Germany, it was made clear to me that he was eternally grateful for the opportunities given to him in his life—and that you can never take that for granted. I am positive you will continue to do great things, Hans, even in your “retirement.”

John Ferguson, University of Wisconsin Press, Journals Production Manager


From Sabine Gross:

The eighteen years of overlap between Hans Adler’s time as Monatshefte General Editor and my service as Book Review Editor were a period of enjoyable collaboration and of continued conversation about Monatshefte. As Hans took on the role of General Editor, he started thinking about new initiatives. He inaugurated the popular series “Neu gelesen – wieder gelesen” that Monatshefte featured for a number of years; he intensified outreach to guest editors who contributed exciting Monatshefte Special Issues; and he was happy to work with me when I began the practice of soliciting “review articles” for Monatshefte, a combination of book review/essay/Forschungsbericht that crossed the boundary between my responsibilities and his. But perhaps most importantly, he was firm in his stance that Monatshefte should represent the broadest range of scholarship in German, with no allegiance to specific subdisciplines, schools of thinking, or intellectual profiles. It is not least this breadth and the absence of dogma that has contributed to the continued success of Monatshefte. Thank you, Hans, for almost two decades of dedicated editorial leadership!

Dr. Sabine Gross, Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Monatshefte Book Review Editor 


From Mike Lützeler:

9. August 2019, Langnau im Emmental – ein Gruß von Mike Lützeler

Lieber Hans,

Gerade bin ich, mit Sulzer zu sprechen, auf einer Berg-Reise durch einige Oerter der Schweiz, sitze hier im Sonnenschein mit dem Ferien-Blick auf das zerklüftete Emmental. Am Horizont strahlen die verschneiten Gipfel von Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau, weit weg und doch wie zum Greifen nahe. Das Wetter ist völlig aufgeklärt und so leuchten mir Deine Auslassungen über Horizont und Idylle, Synästhesie und Aisthesis, Anschauung und Synonymie, Utopie und Imagination, Moral und Eudaimonie noch unmittelbarer ein als beim ersten Lesen im Verlauf der Jahre. 

Sonja Klocke schrieb mir, dass Du die Edition der “Monatshefte” nach siebzehn Jahren jungen Kolleginnen anvertraust. So sind Dankesworte fällig. Wenn Du nichts anderes in Deinem Leben geleistet hättest, als die “Monatshefte” herauszugeben, würdest Du mehr als genug für unsere Profession getan haben. Du hast die Zeitschrift nicht lediglich fortgeführt, sondern auf eine höhere wissenschaftliche Ebene gebracht. Die nun 120 Jahre alten “Monatshefte” (die inzwischen längst zur “Vierteljahrsschrift” mutiert sind) gehören zu den allerbesten Periodika des Fachs. Du hast die Niveausteigerung ohne allen Lärm, ohne grässliche Reklame zustandegebracht, einfach durch das Bestehen auf hohen Maßstäben der Edition einer Fachzeitschrift. Verdienstvollerweise hast Du die regelmäßigen Information zur Profession beibehalten (über die einzelnen German Departments, die Dissertationen, die Beförderungen, Todesfälle etc.). Und das Schöne ist auch, dass Du sicher sein kannst, dass Deine beiden Nachfolgerinnen ihre Sache ausgezeichnet machen werden. 

Aber die Arbeit als ‘editor in chief’ war nur ein Teil Deines Beitrags zum Fach. Wir alle wissen, was wir Dir als Experten in Sachen Aufklärungsliteratur zu verdanken haben, denn wer heute über Ästhetiken und Kulturtheorien von Herder, Baumgarten, Kant, Schiller und Sulzer forscht, wird dankbar zu Deinen vorbildlichen Arbeiten greifen. Das gilt besonders für die Herderologen, denen Dein ‘Companion’ und die Studie zur “Prägnanz des Dunklen” eine willkommene Untersuchung mit neuen und anschließbaren Einsichten bedeutete. Und nun die große Sulzer-Edition, für die Du den Humboldt-Forschungspreis erhalten hast, und die Du gemeinsam mit der Kollegin Décultot herausgibst.

Wir lernten uns im unruhigen akademischen Jahr 1967/68 an der FU Berlin kennen. Damals leitete ich  (begleitend zur Emrich-Vorlesung über den modernen Roman) ein Broch/Joyce-Tutorium, in dem wir “Die Schlafwandler” und den “Ulysses” diskutierten. Du hast vor einigen Jahren einen Band mit dem Titel “Protest und Verweigerung” zusammengestellt. Der erinnerte mich (nur vom Titel her) an den Emrich-Band “Protest und Verheißung”, den wir damals (Mitte der 1960er Jahre) lasen. Ich verbrachte das folgende akademische Jahr 1968/69 als Fulbright-Stipendiat an der Indiana University. Das war eine Universität nach meinem Geschmack. Ich stellte mir die anderen US-Hochschulen von vergleichbarer Qualität  ähnlich vor, was sie ja waren, denn überall gab es eine gute Beziehung zwischen Lehrenden und Lernenden, und man brauchte nicht Assistent eines Ordinarius  zu werden, sondern konnte gleich nach der Dissertation seine Professorenlaufbahn beginnen. 

Wir hatten uns aus den Augen verloren, aber dann wurdest Du lange nach der Dissertation von 1980 (“Soziale Romane im Vormärz”), jedoch bald nach der Habilitation über Herder an der Universität Bochum Kollege am German Department der University of Wisconsin, die seit Bestehen des Fachs in Amerika eine Art Leuchtturmfunktion hat. Schon 1968/69 merkte ich schnell, wie wichtig die Deutschabteilungen im Mittelwesten waren: Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois – lauter Staatsuniversitäten mit exzellenten German Departments, die auch international bekannt waren und einen Austausch mit deutschen Kollegen und Kolleginnen pflegten. Unvergesslich der erste Wisconsin Workshop (“Die sogenannten Zwanziger Jahre”), den Jost Hermand und Reinhold Grimm im Herbst 1969 veranstalteten. Ich besuchte ihn und lernte dort auch Egon Schwarz kennen. Gerade bei den Wisconsin Workshops hast Du in den letzten Jahrzehnten aktiv mitarbeiten können und – gemeinsam mit Deinen Kolleginnen und Kollegen – Veranstaltungen mit internationaler Ausstrahlung zusammengestellt. Man darf das inspirierende Zusammenspiel von regelmäßigem Workshop und kontinuierlich erscheinender Zeitschrift nicht unterschätzen. Auch habe ich mich gefreut, dass wir acht Jahre lang im Vorstand der American Friends of Marbach kooperieren konnten.

Da wir nun beide Mitte siebzig sind, wünsch ich Dir noch viel produktive Zeit. Jetzt bleibt mehr Freiheit für Arbeiten auf Deinen Spezialgebieten. So solltest Du dafür sorgen, dass die Herausgeber anderer Zeitschriften mehr zu tun bekommen. Vor allem aber Gesundheit und Wohlergehen wünscht Dir Dein Mike.

Dr. Paul Michael Lützeler, Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University, St. Louis, and Editor in Chief of the yearbook Gegenwartsliteratur


From Carsten Zelle, a document from the outset of Hans’s career:

Hans Adlers erstes Proseminar am Germanistischen Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, das er als wissenschaftlicher Assistent (m.d.V.b. = mit der Vertretung beauftragt) im Kommentierten Vorlesungsverzeichnis im WS 1979/80 ankündigt:

Für Hans,

mit herzlichem Gruß aus Bochum.

Carsten Zelle (ehemaliger Herausgeber der Zeitschrift Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert)

19-09-19

Prof. Dr. Carsten Zelle, Ruhr-Universität Bochum


From John A. McCarthy:

Twenty years as editor of the Monatshefte is a very long time. Most academics find the task so demanding that six years proves, on average, to be the limit. During that extended period Hans Adler and the journal have become nigh synonymous. His tenure as editor was marked by a keen eye for excellence, a desire for consistency, and an eager thoroughness. What is even more astounding is the fact that editing the Monatshefte was but one of several oversight projects pursued simultaneously. The number of volumes he edited in those years is quite astonishing.

What I recall in particular was a project on “Measuring the World” for a special issue of the journal. He asked me to review the hundred-page typescript, catching me at an unusually busy time when I had said “yes” to too many solicitations for evaluation and was struggling to meet my own publishing deadlines. It really was not a felicitous moment for me. Yet, Hans had developed a powerfully persuasive, mellifluous style that is well designed to encourage potential reviewers to say “yes” when leaning toward “no.” I told him that, even if I were somehow able to fit the review into my schedule, I could not guarantee meeting his (and the Press’s) deadline, which was a mere 3–4 weeks away. A quick review revealed the eclectic contributions to be quite interesting with a common thread running through them. I explained further that I am in the habit of reviewing manuscripts meticulously, looking to see how each chapter of a monograph or each essay in a collection contributes to the sense of a cogent whole. If I only had four weeks, the best I could do is to give the manuscript a cursory review, too little to reveal potential problems. Hans confirmed that he wished to ensure the excellence of each contribution. That was more important. He subsequently persuaded the University of Wisconsin Press to extend the submission deadline by a couple of weeks, and I took on the task. The revised essays did, in fact, appear in September 2016 (108.3). Hans Adler’s management of the review process in this particular instance is surely representative of all his editorial actions on behalf of the Monatshefte.

To be sure, I was predisposed to assist him with the review of the special issue of the journal because of my prior experience of him (and of his work). Our paths first crossed in 1983. Our memories of the encounter diverge a bit, but the essence remains unchanged. He remembers our meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul during his first trip to the USA, while I recall meeting him at the MLA conference in New York City. He gave me a copy of his Soziale Romane im Vormärz. Literatursemiotische Studie (1980), which I read immediately. It convinced me that Hans Adler is someone with whom I should remain in contact. Thus, our first meeting was a propitious start to a long association during which we ran parallel courses, interconnecting at various points. We share many intellectual interests in common, e.g., regarding the Enlightenment, science and literature, philosophy and literature, aesthetics, and individual writers (Leibniz, Baumgarten, Kant, Herder). His joining the German and Comparative Literature faculty at Wisconsin was one of the smartest moves Wisconsin has made for their already vigorous programs. His career trajectory since then (1990/91) has been stellar, marked, as noted, by his dedication to maintaining and enhancing the role of the Monatshefte as a primary venue for German Studies. He will be missed.

Dr. John A. McCarthy, Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature and Professor of European Studies, Vanderbilt University


Monatshefte Vol 111.3 Cover

Volume 111 #4 of Monatshefte, the final issue with Hans Adler as a coeditor, is now available. Browse the table of contents here.

About Monatshefte: Monatshefte has appeared continuously since 1899 and has been published at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 1927. A quarterly journal devoted to German literature and culture, Monatshefte offers articles on topics from all periods of German literature and book reviews of current scholarship in German studies. Monatshefte also publishes extensive topic-focused review articles intermittently. The winter issue of each volume contains “Personalia,” a comprehensive listing of German studies faculty and departments in the United States and Canada, as well as a list of all PhD theses that have been defended in the preceding year.

2 comments

  1. Congratulations and best wishes to Hans! In our dealings, he was always professional, wise, and gracious, and he always had a twinkle in his eye! Hoch sollen Sie leben, Hans!
    Sheila Leary
    University of Wisconsin Press, emerita

    1. Dear Sheila,
      I only discovered your friendly comment yesterday after my return from a trip to Germany. Thank you so much! It was indeed a great pleasure for me to collaborate with you (and the UW Press as a whole!). I still think that it was the right decision in the past not to move Monatshefte to Wiley or one of the other big players in the field.
      I wish you the very best for your professional and personal future!
      As ever,
      Hans.

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