Annual ‘New Approaches’ Workshop

Friday, 4th March 2016, Senior Parlour, Gonville & Caius College, 2-6.45 pm

Supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Foreign Office (FFO)

On Friday 4th of March the Network held its annual workshop, our main event of the year which featured a range of speakers from across several disciplines and culminated in a round-table discussion of the key issues underlying our field. Our invited speakers presented stimulating papers covering the archaeological analysis of Habsburg dynastic burial as a strategy to lay claim to territory (Estella Weiss-Krejci, Austrian Academy of Sciences), the interactions of people, objects and spaces in late medieval and early modern castles in Habsburg lands (Ingrid Matschinegg, Salzburg University), how the Habsburg army presented a chance for social mobility in the eighteenth century (Tobias Roeder, University of Cambridge), the communication of culture through nineteenth-century ‘elegant journals’ focusing on the Hungarian ‘Spiegel’ (Anna Ananieva, QMUL) and censorship and self-censorship in the dream publications of Schnitzler and Freud (Yvonne Wübben, FU Berlin).2016-03-04 16.38.29

The papers showed how the Habsburg area is a valuable context in which to investigate questions from all disciplines. Its variety of territories and urban centres, and long dynastic history provides a productive environment for the study of power, society, spaces, culture and psychology. The richness of source material from the Habsburg lands was also made apparent. In particular, it was noted that all papers engaged with material culture. This shows how the material approach has been integrated across disciplines as a productive method for interrogating texts and narratives.

Whilst it was acknowledged that the range of scholarship presented was admirable, the question of unity was raised. Should we abandon grand narratives of the Habsburg Empire? What happens to research when it is fragmented and specialised? How can these different elements be reintegrated with each other? The round table discussion led by Astrid Köhler (Queen Mary University of London) also critically showed that research questions vary considerably between disciplines. It was pointed out that cross-disciplinary research needed to address this plurality of methodologies. It was suggested that themes such as ‘transitional areas’, ‘borderlands’, or ‘translation’ might help to tie diverse research together and be useful thematic titles for future workshops. The discussion also revealed the need to position ‘New Approaches’ in relation to the grand narratives of Habsburg Studies in future workshops.

We are looking forward to working on these ideas and reconvening next year. We hope to see many of you there again.

Annual Workshop