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Reviewed by:
  • Habsburg bewegt: Topografien der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie ed. by Miklós Fenyves et al.
  • Susanne Kelley
Miklós Fenyves, Amália Kerekes, Bálint Kovács, and Magdolna Orosz, eds., Habsburg bewegt: Topografien der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie. Budapester Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2013. 293 pp.

Habsburg bewegt is the seventeenth volume in the series Budapester Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft, edited by Magdolna Orosz and published by Peter Lang since 2001. The book is a product of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, with not only the four editors but also more than half of the authors associated with the institution at the time they were published in this volume. It is the German-published book that resulted from the research project “Räume der Identität: Kulturelle Topografien der deutschsprachigen Kultur der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie” (the other book publication is in Hungarian). This volume comprises of sixteen articles grouped into the four sections “Raumbilder,” “Exotik,” “Filmtourismus,” and “Utopien.”

A definite strength of this volume is the variety of thematic and methodological approaches to the overarching theme. The book exemplifies the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach to a research project, particularly when the broad focus is a geographic and cultural space or moment to be explored from multiple angles. The sixteen articles illuminate the topic of cultural production in and about Austria-Hungary through the lens of spatial perceptions in many different genres. The authors’ analyses include the topics of urban planning and the fictional and nonfictional representation of urban centers; the genres of travel texts, including travel fiction, travelogues, and travel guides; as well as biographical texts, operetta, and film (documentary, travel, adventure, and horror). The first section on spatial representations focuses on travel texts in a broad definition of the genre. The section that focuses on “the exotic” includes articles that illuminate the contexts of nonheterogeneous [End Page 122] spaces. The third article grouping is the only one categorized by genre, containing three articles on films. The last group of three articles is determined as depictions of utopias.

Unfortunately, this organization of the articles does not best serve the strengths of the book as a whole. Some of the articles, in fact, offer much more interesting research contributions than the emphasis communicated by the title or section heading.

In contrast to other anthologies with contributions by academics scattered around a country or world, much of Habsburg bewegt offers research produced in a significantly small productive space (faculty and graduate students in Budapest), thereby offering a unique and concentrated perspective on the geographic, cultural, as well as historical space of Austria-Hungary. In fact, the articles that do not include a connection with today’s Hungary are the exception. By publishing a German-language volume on the research produced in the “Räume der Identität” project, the book’s editors contribute to the research body on Austria-Hungary, which is a uniquely focused research perspective.

Hungary, in particular Budapest, represents an enriching subtopic in the volume as it is the underlying focus of a number of included articles, which combine to create an interdisciplinary discussion of the city space. The reader learns about Budapest’s city marketing in a comparative analysis of the “Stadtwäldchen” and the Vienna Prater around 1900, the image of Budapest’s 7th district through the writings and person of the psychologist Ferenc Mérei, as well as a post- 1915 utopian alternative in which Budapest takes on a world-important role.

Another underlying theme of the volume is the challenging of genre concepts through the analysis of works that expand the limits of their traditional definitions. A number of articles in the volume explore tropes of tourism and travel in connection with the genres of their representation, among them analyses of war tourism and the film genres of the travel and road movie. By placing Hungary and Budapest at the center of this research volume on Habsburg, the editors also imply a challenge to Vienna as the geographically and culturally most interesting research location and subject of the era and location. Authors included in this volume who are less commonly found in German- and English-language research on Habsburg...


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