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A Migrant’s View: Austria, its Neighbours and a Concept of Central-Europe


Admission requirements

Students should have successfully completed both second-year seminars, one of which is part of the same specialisation as the present third-year seminar.


A key argument for the concept of “Central-Europe” in a history of culture is its definition as a realm of migratory movements, both of people and ideas. Can approaches proposed by a more general historiography of migration (e.g. as presented in Harzig / Hoerder) therefore contribute to a deeper understanding of Central-Europe? In an attempt to answer this question, we will try to apply some of these historiographical approaches to works of literary authors who migrated from various central European countries to Austria and other German-speaking countries in the 20th century, these authors ranging from Nobelprize winners to far less famous ones (Joseph Roth, Elias Canetti, Milo Dor, Herta Müller, Agota Kristof, Dimitré Dinev, Vladimir Vertlib, Terézia Mora…). We will analyse how these authors reconstruct the memory of their country of origin and how they compare it to the experience with the new country they live in. Finally we will ask whether and how images of “home” and “host” cultures correspond to the more comprehensive and imaginary entity that some of those authors refer to as “Central-“ or “Middle-” Europe.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

    1. divise and conduct research of limited scope, including:
      a. identifying relevant literature and select and order them according to a defined principle;
      b. organising and using relatively large amounts of information;
      c. an analysis of a scholarly debate;
      d. placing the research within the context of a scholarly debate.
    1. write a problem solving essay and give an oral presentation after the format defined in the Themacolleges, including
      a. using a realistic schedule of work;
      b. formulating a research question and subquestions;
      c. formulating a well-argued conclusion;
      d. giving and receiving feedback;
      e. responding to instructions of the lecturer.
    1. reflect on the primary sources on which the literature is based.
    1. select and use primary sources for their own research.
    1. analyse sources, place and interpret them in a historical context.
    1. participate in class discussions.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. The student has knowledge of the specialization General History, more specifically of the place of European history from 1500 in a worldwide perspective; with a focus on the development and role of political institutions;
    1. Knowledge and insight in the main concepts, the research methods and techniques of the specialization General History, more specifically the study of primary sources and the context specificity of nationally defined histories;

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific seminar
The student has acquired:

    1. Knowledge about some of the most important migratory movements to German-speaking countries in the 20th century;
    1. Insight into some of the approaches and concepts put forward by a historiography of migration;
    1. Experience with the challenges and the potential of using fictional and non-ficitonal belletristic literature as a source for historical studies;
    1. Critical reasoning about the political and historical use of “Central-Europe” as a transnational concept.


See Rooster Geschiedenis (in Dutch).

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours

  • Amount of lectures: 26 hours

  • Preparation lecture: 14 hours

  • Literature: 140 hours (approx. 1000 pages, additional secondary literature for writing the paper included)

  • Assignment: 100 hours

Assessment method

  • Written paper (ca. 7200 words, based on problem-oriented research using primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-5, 7-8, 9-12

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 2-5, 9-12

  • Participation
    Measured learning objectives: 6

  • Assignment 1 (Specification of the topic of the paper and bibliography for the paper)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-5

  • Assignment 2 (Short essay of ca. 1000 words on the economical and political backgrounds of the specific migration depicted in the work of the chosen author, eg.: Migration of German speaking Rumanians to the West; Migration of Hungarians to German speaking countries before and after 1989 …)
    Measured learning objectives: 9-10

Written paper: 50%
Oral presentation: 20%
Participation: 15%
Assignment 1 (Bibliography): 5 %
Assignment 2 (Short essay on: 10% )

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.

Written papers should be handed in within the given deadline (in Dutch)

The written paper can be revised, when marked insufficient. Revision should be carried out within the given deadline (in Dutch)


In this course Blackboard is used for:

  • announcements about the course;

  • communication between professor and students.

Reading list

Compulsory for general discussion in class:
Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder, What is Migration History? (Cambridge 2014). (181 p.)

For the presentation choose one of the following books as soon as possible. Please note that, even though for some titles English and Dutch translations are available, students are encouraged to read these works in their original language (e.g. mostly German).

  • Joseph Roth, Radetzky March / German: Radetzkymarsch / Dutch translation: Radetzkymars

  • Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free / German: Die gerettete Zunge / Dutch: De behouden tong (alleen antiquarisch verkrijgbaar)

  • Milo Dor: Die weiße Stadt (no English or Dutch translation available)

  • Herta Müller: The Passport / German: Der Mensch ist ein großer Fasan auf der Welt / Dutch: De mens is een grote fazant

  • Agota Kristof: The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie / German: Das große Heft: Trilogie / Dutch: De tweelingentrilogie: 1. Het dikke schrift, 2. Het bewijs, 3. De derde leugen (French original: Le grand Cahier)

  • Dimitre Dinev: Angels’ Tongues / German: Engelszungen

  • Terezia Mora: Day In Day Out / German: Alle Tage / Dutch: Alle dagen

  • Vladimir Vertlib: _Zwischenstationen _ (no English or Dutch translation available)


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. Christoph Leitgeb