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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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9 ‘Leichen im Keller’: The Basement in New Austrian Film (Rachel Green)

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RACHEL GREEN

9 ‘Leichen im Keller’: The Basement in New Austrian Film

ABSTRACT

When news of the Josef Fritzl case broke out from the Austrian town of Amstetten in 2008, critics began to question whether this extreme act of child abuse and its basement setting could be deemed a specifically Austrian phenomenon, especially considering that a similar case involving the Austrian schoolgirl, Natascha Kampusch, had been exposed only two years earlier. Ritchie Robertson, for instance, in a controversial article for The Times Literary Supplement in 2008, drew on the examples of basement abuse that have appeared in a number of Austrian literary works since the nineteenth century to substantiate his claim that Austrian literary history eerily foreshadowed the Fritzl and Kampusch cases. While, in light of the Fritzl child abuse scandal, Robertson and others have attempted to determine the national significance of the basement setting in Austrian literature, this chapter examines the manner in which the basement setting remains a recurring trope in New Austrian Film.

When details of the Elisabeth Fritzl child abuse scandal emerged from the town of Amstetten, lower Austria, in April 2008, critics began to question whether this extreme act of child abuse and its subterranean setting could be deemed a specifically Austrian phenomenon, especially considering that a similar child abuse case involving the ten-year-old schoolgirl, Natascha Kampusch, had been exposed only two years earlier. The media circus, which surrounded the Fritzl family home, exposed...

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