Presses are not all the same, however. Many university presses don’t publish books in German Studies. Of those who do, their reputations range from gold-plated to radioactive. Then there are the German academic presses, and a few presses whose role in German Studies is unlike their role in any other field.
If you are shopping around a manuscript or planning to do so, you need to understand profiles: your university’s profile, a press’s profile, your own profile as a scholar. You need to know which presses have published books that have been part of successful tenure applications at schools like yours or like the ones where you hope to work. The exercise is simple: Look at the last five years of “Personalia,” and see which presses have published books by those who are listed as new associate professors each year, and draw your own conclusions.
Or to save time, just keep reading this data-based guide to who’s who in German academic publishing.
The Nones. Almost half of those promoted to associate (50 out of 132 in our sample) didn’t need a monograph for tenure. The Nones actually include two distinct subgroups:
- Linguists. If you’re a linguist, you can stop worrying. Of the 17 linguists (including SLA and historical linguistics) who were promoted in the last five years, only three had tenure books (two of them published with John Benjamins), and only one of those was at a Ph.D.-granting department. Linguistics can earn tenure anywhere without books. Go crank out more articles, and stop acting so smug.
- Teachers. It’s not uncommon for schools not to require a book for promotion, and maybe yours is one of them. Of the non-linguists, 36 of 115, or 31%, were promoted without single-author monographs. While they may have published articles, translations, editions, or edited volumes, they did not need a traditional academic book. If your department only offers a BA (or maybe even an MA) and is housed at a non-selective SLAC (like Calvin College), a regional comprehensive (like Eastern Illinois), an R2 (like Kent State) or even a few lower-tier state flagships (like the University of Montana), it may be similar to others where German professors were promoted without a tenure book (see the complete list for details).
Any book will do. Sometimes known as “We judge each book by its scholarly contribution, not the prestige of its publisher.” The schools that aren’t picky about presses are not obviously different than the schools that didn’t require a book for promotion, including the same range of SLACs, schools with an undergraduate focus, and universities that emphasize both teaching and research. If your department awards a BA (or maybe even an MA) and fits this profile, you might be tenured with a book from one of these presses.
- Peter Lang: the German press that American academics publish with, but don’t brag about. The most frequent outlet for tenure books, with 12 titles, is Peter Lang. It isn’t a highly prestigious press, but we’ve all cited its books at some point. It’s not embarrassing to list it in your bibliography, but it doesn’t really add much sparkle to a CV. Still, a book from Peter Lang was good enough to be promoted at a SLAC like Colby, a regional comprehensive like Central Michigan, and aspirational research schools like Ohio University or Wayne State.
- Those other presses that we don’t talk about. Somewhat lower in reputation than Peter Lang are presses like Edwin Mellen, University Press of America, or Lambert. These presses are controversial, and some scholars view a book from these presses as weakening rather than strengthening a CV. Still, a book from one of these presses was sufficient for promotion in five cases at schools you’ve heard of, including Colardo State, Georgia Tech, and the University of Arkansas.
- Corporate America: Routledge, Berghahn, Continuum, Palgrave Macmillan. There are other presses that fit this group that have published tenure books in German Studies, but don’t show up in the last five years. Books from these presses were written by thirteen people now tenured at highly-ranked SLACs (Pomona), MA-granting programs (Kentucky, South Carolina, and U Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and Ph.D. programs (Oregon and Ohio State). The two Continuum books were published by Pomona and Ohio State faculty, suggesting that Continuum may have an edge in the prestige factor.
- Our European cousins: De Gruyter, Rodopi, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Other presses in this category might include Brill or Ashgate. Your colleagues in other departments have probably heard of these presses and consider them somewhat respectable. Books from these presses published in English contributed to tenure for five faculty members at some well-known Ph.D. programs, including UC Irvine and Vanderbilt (De Gruyter) and the University of Illinois (Rodopi).
- Camden House: Our very own Peter Lang. Camden House, now an imprint of Boydell and Brewer, is an entire press devoted to German Studies. You probably skimmed one of their handbooks while cramming for quals in grad school, you probably cite chapters published in their books, and you probably know someone who has published with them. In the last five years, Camden House has published the tenure books of five faculty members at two BA programs and three MA-granting programs (Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi State), although these programs are all located in universities whose Carnegie classification is RU/H rather than the highest RU/VH level.
- Ivy envy. There’s only one actual Ivy League press on the list of university presses associated with private universities, but plenty of envy: Northwestern (six books, with authors from UC Irvine, North Carolina, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Berkeley); Cornell (four books, from Vassar, Bowdoin, Notre Dame, and Penn); Stanford (four books, from Brown, Berkeley, Indiana, and Michigan); Chicago (three books, including faculty promoted to associate at Columbia and Stanford); and Fordham (three books, from Illinois, Yale, and Northwestern; who knew?). In addition, one book appeared from MIT (for a Princeton author). Some notable presses are not on this list: Cambridge, Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard come to mind. While they have printed books in German Studies, they do not show up in our sample. This isn’t to say that your book might be the one to turn Jerome Singermann’s head at Penn, or shake up the syndics at Cambridge. If you think your book is a good fit for their lists, then add them to your query list. But lately, the successful tenure books haven’t come from there.
- Public wall-climbing vines who are not defensive about it at all. State university presses that have published tenure books in German Studies recently include Penn State (three books, with authors from Ph.D. programs at McGill and the University of Tennessee) and Michigan (two books, including one for promotion at Washington University). In addition, Minnesota and Rutgers published one tenure book each (with authors from the University of Colorado and Wayne State).
- North of the border. The University of Toronto Press published two tenure books, with the authors in both cases employed in Canadian doctoral programs. Probably just a coincidence.
Let’s close with lists and graphs. First, note how the list of presses that published successful tenure books becomes much more restrictive once we limit the authors to those in Ph.D.-granting programs.
We can see something similar, but in color, by comparing where different types of presses find their authors, at least the ones who are promoted to associate professor in German Studies. If we look again at what kind of degree the author’s program grants, then we see that most of the “nones” are from BA-granting programs, which is also true of Peter Lang authors. MA and Ph.D.-granting programs are the home to just over half the authors who published books with commercial presses. For university presses, on the other hand, nearly 80% of authors came from Ph.D.-granting programs.
If we look instead at the Carnegie classifications of the author’s university (simplified to put all Master’s-level institutions in one category, and lumping the few DRU schools along with the RU/H schools), we see a similar picture. (As before, we’re excluding linguistics and German-language books, but now we’re also excluding Canadian schools, since they aren’t included in the Carnegie classifications.) Apart from a few exceptions at highly-ranked SLACS, those who published their tenure books with university presses were promoted to associate at RU/VH schools.