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New Perspectives on Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture

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Edited By Katya Krylova

This volume brings together contributions arising from papers originally presented at the Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture International Conference held at the University of Nottingham in April 2015. It examines trends in contemporary Austrian literature, film and culture, predominantly over the past thirty years. This period has been one of great transformation in Austrian society, with the Waldheim affair of 1986–1988 marking the beginning of a belated process of confronting the country’s National Socialist past. The sixteen chapters of the volume analyse literary texts, films, memorial projects and Austria’s musical heritage, considering works by cultural practitioners operating both within and outside of Austria. The collection offers a multi-perspectival view on how contemporary Austria sees itself and how it is, in turn, seen by others from various vantage points.

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6 Fortress Europe as Frontier: Adaptation of the Western Genre in Austrian Cinema (Nikhil Sathe)

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NIKHIL SATHE

6 Fortress Europe as Frontier: Adaptation of the Western Genre in Austrian Cinema

ABSTRACT

Through readings of Erwin Wagenhofer’s Black Brown White (2011), Anja Salomonowitz’s Spanien [Spain] (2012), and Florian Flicker’s Grenzgänger [Border Crossers] (2012), this chapter examines the films’ critical adaptations of the Western genre in their reflection on the country’s position in the so-called ‘Fortress Europe’. Drawing on Rick Altman’s conception of semantic and syntactic approaches to genre, this chapter details the films’ adoption of Western themes and structures, isolating the notion of the frontier as their central touchstone. For the films’ migrant, trafficker, and resident characters, the frontier emerges as a treacherous, indeterminate space where the justness and validity of the law is in flux. Re-visioning Europe as frontier, this generic appropriation enables the films to address injustices in the complex of migration in a European Union caught between a commitment to universal human rights and the pressures to expand and fortify the ‘Fortress Europe’.

In August 2015 a refrigerator truck was discovered on an Austrian highway near the Hungarian border, in which the bodies of seventy-one people were found, most of them believed to be refugees. This incident is one of the most shocking episodes in the present exodus of refugees across Europe, fleeing wars in the Middle East and, especially, the Syrian crisis. As the first western European country that many migrants enter, Austria has become a centre of this movement...

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