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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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Introduction: Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture (Katya Krylova)

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KATYA KRYLOVA

Introduction: Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture

In post-war Austria, it is almost exclusively the artists who engaged with the past […]. After the war, Austria has not brought forth any noteworthy philosophers or theorists, at least not in the country itself; thought was driven out by the Nazis and has not actually returned since, therefore all of this was displaced into art. What in other countries was achieved in the realm of scholarship, in Austria, transferred into the realm of art. This is where the more significant achievements were accomplished.1

— ELFRIEDE JELINEK

It is somewhat of a cliché to extol Austria’s rich cultural heritage and to marvel at the fact that a country whose present-day population numbers just 8.7 million2 has given the world so much, in terms of literary, artistic ← 1 | 2 → and cultural achievement. In the popular cultural imaginary, Austria is often associated with the artistic and cultural flourishing that took place in the then Austro-Hungarian capital, Vienna, at the turn of the twentieth century, and with the mourning of this culture’s loss following the Second World War and the Holocaust. This preoccupation with the loss of a vanished culture in the popular cultural imaginary often comes at the expense of a neglect of Austria’s present, apart from when it seeps back into consciousness with sensationally presented scandals such as the Josef Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch cases, or as a consequence of reactionary politics in the...

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