At the end of the nineteenth century, Austro-Hungarian society was undergoing a significant re-evaluation of gender roles and identities. Debates on these issues revealed deep anxieties within the multi-ethnic empire that did not resolve themselves with its dissolution in 1918. Concepts of gender and modernity as defined by the Habsburg Monarchy were modified by the conservative, liberal, radical right-wing and Communist regimes that ruled the empire's successor states in the twentieth century. While these values have taken on new dimensions again in the post-Communist period, the Habsburg Monarchy's influence on gender and modernity in Central Europe is still palpable. With a truly interdisciplinary approach - drawing on the fields of women's studies, gender studies, sociology, history, literature, art, and psychoanalysis - that touches on a variety of subjects - gender roles, sexual identities, misogyny, painting, writing, minorities - this volume explores the lasting impact of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in contemporary Central Europe, which is fraught with gender conflict and tension between modernist and anti-modernist forces.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a fascinating multi-ethnic society. Its experience and understanding of gender and modernity provides important, relevant lessons for today's world as it becomes increasingly intercultural and as issues of identity become more and more complex.
Agatha Schwartz is associate professor of German at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Ottawa. She is the author of Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women's Writing in Fin-de-Siecle Austria and Hungary (McGill- Queen's University Press, 2008) and co-editor, with Luise von Flotow, of The Third Shore: Women's Fiction from East Central Europe (Northwestern University Press, 2006).