A new Season of Austrian Literature and Culture – The Ingeborg Bachmann Centre London’s new programme for October 2012 to June 2013


The time has come – a new season of lectures, conferences, seminars and readings at the University of London has started! With free film screenings, seminars and readings, that are open to everyone (please refer to details about date and time in the programme).

Starting off with a film classic of the Austrian Postwar period, 1. April 2000, directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner in 1952, we look at the way ideology infiltrates the cinema and political motives shape the Arts in a surreal and an absurd manner that can be almost deemed a characteristic for the ‘Austrian way’ of dealing with its controversial history and trauma.

Our first seminar talk this Autumn is “What’s love got to do with it? Self-Representation in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna“, given by Dr Raymond Coffer, who will discuss the notion of self-interest and self-representation in the Vienna of Gustav Mahler, Alban Berg or Arnold Schönberg, using various media to illustrate his findings. Knowing Raymond Coffer as a man who – as the previous manager of the 1980ies world-class act Cocteau Twins (just one of the hugely popular acts he managed) – is at home in popular culture as well as in academia, this talk will certainly resonate with a large audience in and outside the academic sphere!

In November, Dr Deborah Holmes (Kent) will present her new book Langeweile ist Gift. Das Leben der Eugenie Schwarzwald (Residenz, October 2012), “Boredom is Poison. The Life of Eugenie Schwarzwald“. Schwarzwald (1872-1940) was one of the most fascinating women of her time. A pedagogue, dedicated to social work and social progress through leisure and the enhancement of collective well-being, she founded Austria’s first all-girls-“Gymnasium” and also was a journalist and the centre of one of Vienna’s most progressive ‘Salons’ at the time. Being well acquainted with the modernist art world, she brought together the finest writers, artists, painters and architects of her time; Thomas Mann and Sinclair Lewis were her guests as well as Adolf Loos and Oskar Kokoschka. There will also be time to talk to Dr Holmes about the planned exhibition she will be curating on Eugenie Schwarzwald’s projects, schools and her pupils .

The second half of November will, however, be dedicated to the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature’s 10th Anniversary, starting with the IBC Biennial Lecture on 19 November. This year, we are particularly delighted to welcome Professor Konstanze Fliedl (Vienna) who will speak on translations of Ingeborg Bachmann’s iconic poem Abschied von England. Although the IBC’s work is devoted to Modern Austrian Literature in general and not exclusively to the well-known writer Ingeborg Bachmann, we are very pleased that Professor Fliedl’s lecture brings the Centre’s name to public attention in such a befitting way. The festivities go on on 20 November, with a reception at the IBC’s most important partner, the Austrian Cultural Forum London, where we also celebrate the publication of an anthology of texts by 11 Austrian writers. It is a special anthology for all contributors have  been IBC-Writers-in-Residence between 2002 and 2012 and every text has been translated into English by an excellent group of young and established translators form the UK and the US. The book launch of “Zwei Wochen England” (Sonderzahl, October 2012) will be accompanied by music by Austrian guitarist and composer Philipp Tröstl and by a special exhibition of England-photographs by Valeska Hass, that have been taken especially for the anthology.

December 2012 will see the book launch of an English publication by cultural and literary critic, Professor Wolfgang Müller-Funk (Vienna). His book of collected essays, The Architecture of Modern Culture. Towards a Narrative Cultural Theory (De Gruyter, November 2012) contains fundamental contributions to contemporary cultural analysis and theory as well as exemplary interpretations of film,literature and other media. Central issues of current cultural studies are addressed: cultural identity, collective memory and post-colonial studies. Wolfgang Müller-Funk’s oeuvre encompasses historical analyses such as readings of Hermann Broch, Elias Canetti and Robert Musil, and the heritage they passed on. Other essays move from the beginning of the 20th to the 21st century and address questions of space, time and globalization, discussing, for example, Walter Benjamin and 9/11.

The 2013 Season for us begins in March, with a seminar talk by Birgit Friedrich (Nottingham University), who is also the co-organizer of the conference “Translating Gender in Modern Austrian Literature” in May. Birgit Friedrich, who is currently pursuing her PhD at the Centre of Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies at Nottingham University and has been teaching translation in the UK Higher Education system for many years, will speak on new theory and practice of translating Gender with special emphasis on the aspect of ‘transition’ and the crossing of boundaries in the Gender discourse as well as the Translation discourse. Her talk will serve as an introduction to the above mentioned 1-day-conference, for which a CfP will go round in due course.

As an annual fixture, the 10th IBC Postgraduate Conference on topics in Austrian Literature and Culture will see the reading of this year’s IBC-Writer-in-Residence at the highlight of its 2nd day. The IBC is delighted to welcome Arno Geiger, author of “Es geht uns gut“, “Der alte König in seinem Exil“, “Alles über Sally“, “Irrlichterloh” and “Kleine Schule des Karusselfahrens“, to London. Arno Geiger will read at the Austrian Cultural Forum London on 4 June, at 7 pm. All welcome, but seating is limited, so make sure you get in touch with the ACF at the address below as the event date gets nearer!

Arno Geiger also lends us the title of the big conference event that is closing this IBC season on 26-27 of June: Es geht uns gut! – Writing History in Austria after 1945″. Catriona Firth (Leeds) and myself are co-organising this 2-day conference that aims to re-assess more recent and current attempts to fictionalize Austria’s and World history through the media of text, the internet and film. A CfP will be circulated in due course.

We start the Oct 2012 – June 2013 season at the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature London with a cinematic jewel of Postwar Austrian cultural history and we end it with questions like the one, whether Karl Kraus’s (click here for a complete online version of his magazine “Die Fackel“) dictum – “Der Historiker ist oft nur ein rueckwaertsgekehrter Journalist” (“A historian is sometimes not more than a journalist looking back in time”) – can or should be extended to literary history at all!

Hopefully the above events will generate fruitful discussions, as always. The IBC staff at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies at the University of London and all co-organizers are looking forward to them!

Do get in touch, if you have further questions; either by email or by phone. AND DON’T FORGET: If your institution or you, yourself, are planning an event that is of interest to the Austrian Studies community world-wide, let us know and we will give you the space to promote and comment on it!  




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  1. edith lange

    want to purchase ” boredom is poison ” in english and in german !!!
    also, what books can i find written in english about eugenie schwarzwald ?

    i am now age 91 and went to her FOS !!!
    want my children and grand children know about her .

    • Heide Kunzelmann

      Thank you for your message, Mrs Lange. I will forward your request to Deborah Holmes, author of “Langeweile ist Gift”. She might be able to give you more information about English materials about Frau Dr Schwarzwald. Best wishes, Heide Kunzelmann (Editor austrianresearchuk)

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