The Austrian Society for Eighteenth Century Studies

A brief historical overview

by Marion Romberg

 “Eine Plattform [], auf welcher die einzelnen Forscher und Interessenten sich finden und begegnen können”[1] (Moritz Csáky 1982/83)

“Vielfalt wissenschaftlicher Zugänge zum 18. Jahrhundert wie auch die Möglichkeiten interdisziplinärer Forschungen sichtbar machen”[2] (Gunnar Hering 1990/91)

“nicht nur Interessens-, sondern auch Aktionsgemeinschaft”[3] (Harald Heppner 1994)

“Ein Abbild des Kosmopolitismus des 18. Jahrhunderts“ (Wolfgang Schmale 2010)

In 2012 the Austrian Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ÖGE 18) turns thirty. One year before its jubilee the society is for the first time in its history host of the international congress for Eighteenth Century Studies in Graz. This mega event is organised by the umbrella association of 34[4] national societies the International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ISECS) and takes place every four years in a different country around the world. The 13th World Congress in Graz is realized in cooperation with ISECS, the University of Graz, and the University for Music and Dramatic Arts of Graz.[5] On the occasion of this mega event the ÖGE 18 publishes an anthology of essays which aims to give an insight into the progress and status quo of the Eighteenth Century Studies in various disciplines since 1945. This enterprise prompted the wish to look back on the history of the ÖGE 18. Its activities of three decades are characterized by interdisciplinarity, multilingualism, and a great variety of themes as well as methods presented and discussed on various occasions. Additional to the 18th century in the broader European sense it dedicated its work as a national society especially to a better understanding of the heritable territory of the Habsburg and its neighboring countries. Its main achievements lay firstly in its endeavours to revive and promote national and international scientific exchange between disciplines as well as cooperations in the Eighteenth Century Studies and Habsburg Research. Secondly through its interdisciciplinary working, it contributed fundamentally to a scientific re-evalution of this period of time and made the research results accessible to a broader public. Thirdly by striking new paths online and financially the society encouraged young academics to work in this field.

This article represents a first attempt to give a brief insight into the history and workings of the ÖGE 18 from its beginnings in 1982 to the present date. The society does not possess a complete and orderly archive of its entire history. The sources consist mainly of the yearbook, various newsletters, event specific correspondence, and interviews. In the course of this arcticle four aspects will be more closely presented: the founding of the society and its objectives; the geographical distribution and growth of its members; its scientific activities (congresses, workshops and publications, and projects) as well as international relationships, and lastly its web offensive.

Chapters:

1 – 1982: The goal and idea behind the foundation of the society
2 – The members of the ÖGE 18 in 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2009
3 – The scientific field of activity of the ÖGE 18
3.1 – The jour-fixe system from 1982 till 2000 and the activities afterwards
3.2 – 22 congresses in 28 years and Graz 2011
3.3 – The scientific publications of the society
4 – The web offensive of ÖGE 18
5 – Bibliography

[1] Csáky, Gesellschaft, 5.

[2] Hering, Vorwort, 5.

[3] Internal paper „Gedanken zur Tätigkeit der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts“ by Harald Heppner in Graz on December 27th, 1994.

[4] This number includes also the associated national societies in Brazil, and Serbia.

[5] The website of the congress is online in French, German and English <http://www.18thcenturycongress-graz2011.at/index.html> (14.02.2010).

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