For centuries, Central Europe has been a hybrid space of communication where cultural features have become interwoven beyond nationalities, ethnicities, or the movement of time. Railway stations, schoolhouses as well as the theatres designed by the famous Viennese architects Helmer and Fellner are only a few of many examples indicating a cartography of overlapping aesthetic manifestations specific to the Central Europe. The conference of the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies to take place at the University of Alberta on April 2nd – 4th, 2012 will engage in a crossing of historical and transcultural perspectives on aesthetic overlap.
Based on recent studies demonstrating strong transcultural interrelations in the fields of literature, music, art history, and architecture prevalent in the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, the conference will approach the following questions: Is this transcultural legacy still current in Central Europe today, after the fall of the so-called Iron Curtain? Can specific motives, topics, ways of writing, composing, or painting be identified as typical for this region? Can we prove something such as a “longue durée” (Braudel) in these interrelations or has this regional nexus lost its efficacy in times of globalization? Finally, do continuities and frictions evince a long-lasting memory?
The interdisciplinary conference addresses scholars from literary and film studies as well as from musicology, history, art history, and architecture, and will be composed of three sections:
The first section focuses on the historical framework and investigates transcultural interrelations in the 19th and early 20th century. First studies in this field indicate a complex trans-ethnic network of ideas or motifs spreading throughout the region, therefore demonstrating the inadequacy of a solely nationally bound perspective in cultural studies.
Following on this foundation, section two discusses interrelations in the late 20th and 21st century. Can we still trace transnational as well as regional connections and correlations despite the phenomenon of globalization with its electronic mass media and its intensified migration?
Finally, the third section intersects with the first sections in scrutinizing the ramifications of the fall of the Iron Curtain. How deep did it influence cultural interrelations? Can we speak of an effective rupture or, better yet, continuities? Was it really the physical political border that effected literature, film, music, and art or was this border merely a phantasm?