Until World War I, Austria-Hungary encompassed a vast territory from Czernowitz to Trieste and from Salzburg to Transylvania. What held these diverse peoples and places together? This question occupied the monarchy in its time, as well as those looking back on the pre-war world. The realm’s two million Jewish residents—the emperor’s most loyal subjects, it was said—were similarly far-flung in place and diverse in character. Yet they were held together as Habsburg Jews not only by religion, synagogue architecture, and food, but also in ways barely visible to themselves. This lecture, using the connections among these communities, will explore a few of these Jewish worlds to help us understand the particularity of Austria-Hungary as a whole.
Scott Spector is the Rudolf Mrázek Collegiate Professor of History and German Studies at the University of Michigan. A cultural and intellectual historian of modern Central and East Central Europe, he specializes in Habsburg and Jewish culture, sexual science and sensational culture, and fin-de-siècle studies. He is the author of Prague Territories: National Conflict and Cultural Innovation in Franz Kafka's Fin de Siècle, Violent Sensations: Sexuality, Crime, and Utopia in Vienna and Berlin, 1860-1914, and Modernism without Jews? German-Jewish Subjects and Histories.
Cosponsors: Center for Austrian Studies, Department of German, Nordic, Scandinavian & Dutch, and the Center for German & European Studies