Welcome to the AustrianresearchUK – Blog, the first of its kind! This blog is an experiment. It has been created to bring together two worlds, the public and the academic spheres, in order to create a third space, or a space between where research comes alive because people talk about it.
My name is Heide Kunzelmann, I am the director of the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre of Austrian Literature (IBC), a centre devoted to the promotion of Austrian literary research in the UK, of Austrian literature in German and in English, Austrian Studies and, last but not least, to Austrian scholars in the English speaking world. This year, the IBC will celebrate its 10th anniversary and I should mention that it was my predecessor, Martin Liebscher, who has made the Bachmann Centre what it is today – an established institution in the heart of London, close to Euston, where exciting conferences and workshops take place and where the dedicated staff of the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies constantly and enthusiastically work on new ideas for academic and liteature-related events, while they pursue their own research.
The IBC is a fairly small centre and, due to its history and recently increased web-presence, it probably appears much bigger than it actually is. We work under the auspices of the Austrian Cultural Forum that generously supports our work financially and in terms of infrastructure. But really, there are only two people behind the IBC, our Institute Administrator and me – and the Internet!
It is the net that gives us the opportunity to form new, transnational co-operations within hours, that enables me to get in touch with people who are interested in Austrian literature and Austrian research but who I’d have never met, were it not for Facebook! The internet provides Academia with the invaluable chance to form networks beyond age, nationality or status; its anti-hierarchical structure makes the professor talk to the author and the bank clerc – all of them, say, fans of Thomas Bernhard’s exquisite romantic extentialism – within one thread of comments on our fb-page. It makes the librarian from Romania “like” the same post on a digital archive that houses Stefan Zweig’s voice, as the Comparative Literature lecturer from a university ‘up north’. It makes the Tyrolean writer “share” a picture taken at a London exhibition of an Austrian-Jewish painter on her “wall”, where the City Councillor for Culture of a middle-sized city in Western Germany, one of her hundreds of “friends”, finds it and clicks on “share” again. And it makes the Austrian Studies scholar discover which author is connected to which translator or publisher or politician.
Never before has a specialised academic field like Austrian Studies in the English speaking world had the chance to reach out to the world to such a great extent and never before have scholars had the opportunity to present the relevance of their work to more people, in a more informal and yet engaging context, than they have now.
This blog is not proclaiming the complete exchange of physical by virtual communication. On the contrary, I intend to fuel the discussions about Austria, Austrian literature and Austrian Studies all over the country by providing a platform where ideas and positions meet.
This blog is meant to inspire, to provoke discussion, to show precisely why our work is relevant to the UK, to Europe, to the world, also by giving guest bloggers from within and from outside of Austrian Studies the opportunity have their say about the status quo and the future of Austrian research in the UK. It is meant to initiate co-operations between its readers and to give them the space to present their projects. And it is meant to illuminate the context of academic research today – to give our research a face and a profile!
Dear Reader, when it comes to Austrian Research in the English Speaking World your comment is very welcome!
Present ongoing research, pose critical questions, raise your voice about the current cuts in the HE-environment and possible solutions – this blog is here for the Austrian Research Community in the UK and elsewhere!
Let’s start a new space where Austrian Research UK meets the World!
Schoenen Fruehlingsbeginn 2012 wuenscht das IBC!