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PREFACE When we decided on an "Austrian" cluster for this year's Women in German Yearbook, Austrian voters had not yet gone to the polls in the October 1999 election. We therefore could not foresee the immediate political relevance of our topic, as Austria became, once again and for the first time since the "Waldheim affair," the center of an international scandal. While we were soliciting a review essay on feminist approaches to Austrian women writers and checking out talks and submissions on contemporary Austrian writers, the Women in German listserv featured a heated exchange over how to respond to the "Haider phenomenon": Should we—US feminist Germanists—boycott Austria by cancelling our study abroad programs there or refusing to attend conferences in Vienna? How could we best voice our protest over the ideological positions taken by Jörg Haider's so-called Freedom Party? What, in fact, did this right-wing party's ascent to public power mean in a larger historical context, and were our fears of a drastic change in public policy justified (see, for example, the essays by Lonnie Johnson and Stefan Seum posted on 7 and 15 Feb. 2000, respectively)? What, for example, would be the effect of the right-wing government's decision to abolish the Ministry for Women's Affairs? And could the protest by writers such as Elfriede Jelinek, who declared that her plays could no longer be performed in Austria (Süddeutsche Zeitung 9 Feb. 2000), or sanctions by the European Union stem the tide of xenophobia and antisemitism that many expected from this political sea-change? Once again, Women in German's widely read internet WIG-L demonstrated its value to our profession. It enabled communication between US and Austrian feminist scholars beyond mere verbal expressions of solidarity by fostering, for example, a campaign for financial support of Austrian women's attempts to represent their position in the English-language press. It will certainly help us monitor the developments in Austria in the months to come. To be sure, the general political climate has also affected the nature of the submissions we received, and the tenor of these contributions : while scholarly analyses of texts by individual authors still predominate , questions of Austrian identity, racism, or Austria's relationship to its Nazi past more often than not inform these analyses or serve ? Women in German Yearbook 16 as a point of departure for the interviews with prominent Austrian women writers we are pleased to present. As has been our practice when introducing contemporary writers to our readers, we also include a selected bibliography of their published book-length work, in German and in English translation. The question of the artist's relationship to political events frames Karin Yesilada's conversations with Barbara Frischmuth, which occurred both before and after the controversial election. Their discussion highlights that author's most recent work but also her on-going political engagement on behalf of a culturally diverse and tolerant Austrian society. As she has graciously done for us before, past Yearbook editor Jeanette Clausen provided a sensitive translation of these previously unpublished conversations, the first of which took place in Istanbul. In our attempt to introduce our readers to developments in contemporary Austrian culture—which has produced more than its "share" of important women writers in recent years—we asked Jacqueline Vansant to provide us with an overview of the feminist criticism that has responded to this literature. Although she limited herself to the last ten years and excluded the voluminous critical work on Elfriede Jelinek, Vansant' s topical survey also reveals the extent to which the abovementioned issues of multiculturalism, national identity, and Austria's relationship to its National-Socialist past preoccupy writers and critics alike. The weight of history, both Austrian and Italian fascism, is at the heart of Siobhan S. Craig's reading of a late text by Austria's bestknown postwar woman writer, Ingeborg Bachmann. To the extent that critics have paid any attention to her short story "Simultan" ("Word for Word"), they have focused on the surface problem of a simultaneous interpreter's struggles with issues of language and gender. Craig's concentration on the slippages and silences in...


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