As announced in earlier blog posts, an international conference on Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture was hosted by the Department of German Studies, University of Nottingham, on 13-15 April 2015. The conference was organised by Dr Katya Krylova, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of German Studies, and was sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust, the Austrian Cultural Forum London and the University of Nottingham.
The conference was concerned with literature, film and cultural production in Austria over the past thirty years, a period that has been one of great transformation in Austrian society, with the beginning of the Waldheim affair nearly thirty years ago marking the start of the belated process of confronting the country’s National Socialist past. This year is one that is rich in anniversaries of significance for Austria. Today (27 April 2015) marks seventy years since the founding of the Second Republic. May will mark seventy years since the end of the Second World War in Europe, as well as sixty years since the signing of Staatsvertrag [Austrian State Treaty]. The beginning of 2015 marked twenty years since Austria’s entry into the European Union, as well as fifteen years since the entry of Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party into the Austrian coalition government. These historical events have all been deeply significant for Austrian identity and the way that Austria sees itself and its place in the world. And nowhere has this been better reflected than in the work of Austrian writers, filmmakers and cultural practitioners, who have been at the forefront of responding to the shifts that the country has undergone, whether in their writing, films and other works. These writers, filmmakers and cultural practitioners were the focus of the three-day international conference on Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture.
The conference included three keynote lectures from Professor Allyson Fiddler (University of Lancaster), Professor Jonathan Long (University of Durham), and Professor Dagmar C. G. Lorenz (University of Illinois at Chicago). Professor Dagmar C. G. Lorenz (UIC) opened the conference with a keynote lecture about cosmopolitanism and the Vienna-“Orient” connection in Austrian literature and film since 1945. On the second day of the conference, Professor Jonathan Long (Durham) gave a keynote lecture about the enduring genre of Austrian Heimatphotographie [homeland photography]. On the third day of the conference, Professor Allyson Fiddler (Lancaster) spoke about street protest and civic resistance following the entry of the Austrian Freedom Party into the Austrian coalition government in the year 2000.
In addition to the keynote lectures, a total of twenty-four papers were presented at the conference by speakers from the UK, the United States, Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary. The conference also featured film screenings and Q&As with two award-winning Austrian documentary filmmakers: Dr Ruth Beckermann (Vienna) and Dr Frederick Baker (Cambridge). Ruth Beckermann has been making documentary films in Austria for over three decades. On the second day of the conference, we had the opportunity to see her most recent award-winning film, Those Who Go Those Who Stay (2013), and to discuss the film with the director in the Q&A afterwards. This film screening was generously supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum London. On the final day of the conference, we had the opportunity to view the Austrian-British filmmaker Frederick Baker’s film Widerstand in Haiderland [Resistance in Haider Country] (2010), a film reflecting on the protest movement in Austria, which arose following the election of the radical right-wing Austrian Freedom Party into the coalition government in 2000. Again, this film sparked a great discussion in the Q&A with the director afterwards.
For more information about the conference please visit the conference website or follow the conference Twitter account @calfac2015. An edited volume arising from the conference will be published in 2017.