The Austrian Studies Association (ASA) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) will hold its annual conference April 26-28 at the campus with the theme “AEIOU Global Austria.” All events are free and open to the public.
CSULB’s Annual Conference of the Austrian Studies Association features two keynote speakers from Austria. Barbara Neuwirth, a fiction writer and feminist scholar, will start off Friday’s events with her keynote address on issues of migration and globalization in Austria. Filmmaker Harald Friedl will then provide the closing event on Saturday afternoon with the U.S. premiere of his latest film “Mein Leben als Apfelbaum” [“My Life as an Apple Tree”], which will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
“There will be 64 speakers from all over the world,” said conference organizer Nele Hempel-Lamer, CSULB associate professor of German. “The conference opens with a special reception at the Austrian Consul’s residence in Brentwood on Thursday evening followed by two days of panels on interdisciplinary approaches towards Austrian literature and culture. Topics include the first and second World War, resistance and memory, theater politics, documentary and travel narratives as well as nationalism and gender politics.”
CSULB M.A. students in German will participate as moderators at the conference, and, Hempel-Lamner noted, MA graduate Curtis Maughan, who just received the Dean’s Award as 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student in the College of Liberal Arts, was accepted by the external review panel to present a paper on Harald Friedl’s documentary “Aus der Zeit” [Out of Time].”
“Our department is all about student engagement,” Hempel-Lamer said. “We look to provide our students intellectual opportunities but also opportunities just to get involved. We recognize that students who have been part of a conference like this can talk about these experiences when they apply to a graduate program, a scholarship or a job.
“This conference (is) a good fit here. It is part of our department’s goal to socialize students into becoming well-educated global citizens,” she added. “If you don’t do these kinds of events, your program can become stagnant. Every time our program hosts a conference on campus, visiting colleagues from other universities are simply astounded by the level of student involvement in an academic event.”
Panelists are predominantly professors and Ph.D. candidates from prestigious public and private universities in the United States, Canada, Austria, Germany, Great Britain and South Africa. A conference program is posted on CSULB's romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures (RGRLL) home page.
“It will be a great chance for our students to connect with internationally renowned scholars,” said Hempel-Lamer. “I am currently teaching an undergraduate/graduate seminar on 20th and 21st century Austrian literature and culture. The conference will allow my students to meet scholars whose publications they have been reading in conjunction with this class.”
She also believes the conference can benefit students looking for a good graduate program beyond CSULB. She said ASA conference will be an excellent opportunity for some students to have conversations with the people who run Ph.D. programs at their respective institutions. Additionally, with a lot of support for the conference coming from the Austrian Consulate, students also can get information regarding studying and living in Austria.
The conference is supported by CSULB’s College of Liberal Arts, the Office of Academic Affairs and the RGRLL Department. The conference has also received generous support from the Austrian Consulate in Los Angeles, the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York and the Center for Austrian Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Hempel-Lamer encourages both the campus and the local community to attend. “What is especially interesting about this conference is how it examines Austria from an interdisciplinary point of view with papers on topics related to Austrian history, politics, theater, and culture,” she said. “But then there also will be the more traditional literature panels focusing on feminist readings and/or narratives depicting the post-WWII Austrian society.
“Whatever your discipline may be, there should be a panel there for you,” she pointed out. “For those interested in studying Austria, and that encompasses many subjects, their time would be well-spent attending this conference.”