By Christian Stenico, UNO Press / Center Austria Publishing Fellow
During tumultuous times you can either embrace the chaos or try to seek solace in other, more orderly areas of your life. I chose the latter option during the first part of 2021 when I immersed myself in the minutiae and footnotes of Contemporary Austrian Studies (CAS)—the book series that more or less brought me to the US.
I’ve been in the US since the fall of 2019 on a Fellowship from the Austrian government to work on my dissertation (in American Studies) and to assist the director of the University of New Orleans’s Center Austria, Günter Bischof, in putting together volumes 29 and 30 of CAS. As a book series, CAS is only a little younger than me, having been published since 1993. It’s stated aim in the first volume was to provide an “empirical investigation of modern-day Austrian history, politics and society” and throughout the last twenty-nine years it has done a great job in following through on that vision. The newest volume that will be published in fall of 2021 deals with “Austrian Visual Histories” and spans from harrowing pictures from World War II all the way, to travel ads promoting Austria, to family photographs from a photo studio archive.
As an Associate Editor for CAS, my job is mainly about staying organized and keeping the other people involved in putting together a volume organized as well, acting as an intermediary between the editors, authors, and publisher. Aside from that, one other big part of the job is to make sure that all the footnotes in the contributions are in order, that is, adhere to the rules laid out in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as well as CAS’s in-house style. And while that kind of finicky work might sound tedious and dry to some, during the craziness that was 2020 and is 2021, I’ve actually come to embrace it as a haven of orderliness.
While the outside world was ravaged by the fallout of the presidential elections and the ongoing pandemic, there was something soothing about being fully engaged in work that is governed by strict rules and guidelines; where you know that the answer to any question you might have will be somewhere in the 1026 pages of the CMOS—and, where instead of trying to keep up with the Kardashians, you only have to keep up with the difference between en and em Dashes.1
1: The differences between hyphens, en, and em dashes are like a secret handshake between editors. While most—or maybe simply normal-thinking—people might not pay too much attention to the difference between -, –, and —, to people in the know they can signal that a manuscript has been edited well and with attention to detail. For a quick overview of the differences, I point to the CMOS again: CMOS on Dashes.