Austrian Studies 30 (2022) will be Anthropocene Austria, and will be devoted to Austrian literature and culture in the Anthropocene. The volume will be edited by Nicola Thomas (QMUL) and Caitríona Ní Dhúill (UCC).

Call for Abstracts (note the revised deadline)

Austrian Studies 30 (2022) will examine the implications of the now well-established theoretical paradigm of the Anthropocene – the current geological epoch, in which humans are leaving an indelible trace on the fabric of the planet – for research on Austrian literature and culture.

Ideas of environment and place have featured prominently in the Austrian cultural imagination, not least in the form of Alpine landscapes. Against this backdrop of geological ‘deep’ time made visible, the social fabric of the modern nation state comes sharply into relief. The relevance of the Anthropocene for Austrian literature and culture is, as yet, uncertain: perhaps Moore’s concept of the ‘Capitalocene’ (2016) speaks more clearly to a cultural zone which has long been at the nexus of European networks of trade, production and migration.

Some theorists (Chakrabarty 2009; Haraway 2016; Alaimo 2016; Wenzel 2019) argue that we must reflect on the implications of the Anthropocene for our existence at a species level, while also remaining attentive to global flows of capital which cement inequalities between and within nations and populations. While the challenges of the Anthropocene are planetary in nature, they tend to resist apprehension at the planetary scale, becoming more tangibly manifest at the personal, local, regional and national levels. Study of a specific national context in its negotiation with Anthropocene challenges serves to highlight the complex processes whereby local and national cultures register – or resist – their enmeshment with planetary crisis. According to a simplistic rhetoric of climate culpability, Austria is both a perpetrator and a victim: it ranks slightly above the European average for CO2 emissions per capita, although emissions are falling sharply; climate breakdown and warming temperatures are already having dramatic effects on both snowfall and glaciation in the Alpine regions, causing major economic and environmental impacts; while negotiation with the realities of migration continues to determine political agendas and is increasingly linked – often in misleading ways – to ecological concerns.

In dialogue with contemporary theoretical and political debates on ecology and environment, and building on recent work in German and Austrian literary studies (Dürbeck et al 2019; Wilke and Johnstone 2019; Schaumann and Sullivan 2017), the volume will explore what it means to read Austrian literature and visual culture in the Anthropocene. At the same time, we will ask what case studies from the Austrian context can teach us about the predicament of the Anthropocene more broadly. The focus will be on understanding Austrian literature and culture through their entanglements with environments and ecologies, against the backdrop of Anthropocene ‘derangements of scale’ (Clarke 2018). Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Representations and engagement with geological ‘deep time’ in Austrian literature and culture
  • Extraction and exploitation (see Yusuff 2018), including consideration of the physical landscape, mining, resource extraction, animals and other non-humans, farming and agriculture, and urban environments
  • The ‘Capitalocene’ in provincial and metropolitan Austria; the role of global flows of capital in shaping environments
  • Green traditions in Austrian politics and culture: radical ecologies of left and right, eco-fascism
  • Postcolonialism and the Anthropocene in Austria: understanding the global Anthropocene through histories of empire
  • Anthropocene forms: the search for commensurate literary / visual language, from epic to miniature
  • Economies and ecologies of waste and consumption; modes of salvage, re-use and recycling, including re-reading of literary and cultural traditions

Abstracts of 400 words, plus a brief speaker bio of c. 100 words, should be submitted to Caitríona Ní Dhúill ( and Nicola Thomas ( by 5 October 2020. The deadline for the full contributions is 31 March 2021. Accepted contributions will be subject to peer review.

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