CfP: “ES GEHT UNS GUT” – Recent Trends in (Re)writing the Past in Austrian Literature since 2000 (27 November, 2014, IMLR London)


Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature, London

at the Institute of Modern Languages Research



‚ES GEHT UNS GUT‘ – Recent Trends in (Re)writing the Past in Austrian Literature since 2000




A one-day conference at the

Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London

Thursday, 27 November, 2014



Heide Kunzelmann (Ingeborg Bachmann Centre for Austrian Literature at the IMLR)


Geschichte heißt, das kommt erst (Thomas Stangl, ‘Was kommt’)


In 2005 Arno Geiger received the German Book Prize for his historical novel Es geht uns gut that covers 63 years of Austrian history from 1938 to 2001 through an account of events in one family. Geiger’s success marked the rise of a fresh view on the cultural and political history of Austria in the 20th century in the form of epic narratives. Based on the Austro-critical literature of the 1980s and 1990s, Austrian literature saw a gradual replacement of questions of national historical entanglements with a transnational, globalised perspective around the turn of the 21st century. Its focus is often on the biographical (see Peter Handke, Bildverlust, 2002) or else the semi-autobiographical, whereby narrative perspective is used to present a critical, ironic yet empathetic retrospective gaze on a family in the tainted context of 20th-century Austrian history (Eva Menasse, Vienna,2007). In other cases the narrator explicitly withdraws all empathy for the characters in favour of a piercing analysis of Austro-fascism through the mediation of ‘Gebilde[n] aus Draht und Wörtern’ (Thomas Stangl, was kommt, 2009).

More recently, Austria as ‘the other’ has also gained importance as the setting of narratives of de-centralisation, loss and historical guilt with reference to its neighbouring countries. In such cases, Austria features as the periphery to the Balkans as a centre of writing (Peter Handke, Die Morawische Nacht, 2008), as nationalist construction in the conflicted Southern border region of Slowenisch-Kärnten (Maja Haderlap, ‘Engel des Vergessens’ (2011)) or as part of the Third Reich and a reason for the displacement of ethnic Slovak Germans, or Carpathian Germans (Constantin Göttfert, ‘Steiners Geschichte’ [forthcoming, July 2014]).

This conference seeks to illuminate these shifting perspectives in a narrative evaluation of Austria’s history of the 20th century as well as the variety of approaches to ‘writing the past’ in Austrian literature since 2000.

Papers in English or German are welcome on:

  • individual authorial approaches to (re-)writing the past in German-language literature and in literature in other languages with particular reference to Austrian history
  • the family novel and/or the historical novel in Austria after 2000
  • the connection between aesthetics and historiography in recent fiction from or about Austria
  • literary styles of commemoration and ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung’
  • the generic differentiation of fake, counterfeit and the contra-factual in postmodern narrative theory in Austrian fiction after 2000
  • the relationship between ‘writing the past’ and contemporary politics in Austria, with a particular focus on globalization and migration
  • the exploratory potential of contra-factual representations of history in the Austrian novel around the turn of the 21st century

Please email 300-word abstracts for 25-minute papers to by 15 August, 2014.

Travel and accommodation subsidies are available for selected contributions by UK- and Ireland- postgraduate students and by ECRs who do not have an institutional affiliation. Subsidies should be applied for with your abstract submission.



Jane Lewin

Institute Administrator/Consortium Publications Manager

Institute of Modern Languages Research (formerly IGRS)

University of London School of Advanced Study

Room ST 279Senate House

Malet Street, GB- London WC1E 7HU
Telephone 0044 (0)20 7862 8966


Please note that there is no longer a through-route

from Stewart House to Senate House

The Institute is part of the IMLR/IMR/IP Administrative Consortium

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