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Volume 19

Austrian and Habsburg Studies

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Tropics of Vienna

Colonial Utopias of the Habsburg Empire

Ulrich E. Bach

152 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-132-9 $80.00/£57.00 Hb Published (May 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-133-6 eBook

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Tropics of Vienna constitute a significant addition to our understanding of the utopian tradition in German literature. It will be of real interest and benefit to those pursuing specific questions about the history of German-language utopias, as well as more general questions about the relationship, both nebulous and historically specific, between literature and society at any given moment.” · Germanic Review

“[His] readings prove to be very prolific, so that scholars of late Habsburg culture can be grateful to Tropics of Vienna for having filled a gap in the field with so much insight and inspiration for future research.” · Modern Language Review

“This is a clearly written, tightly focused, and well-argued study that takes on a topic of broad interest and offers a fresh perspective on the role of colonialism in the Austrian imagination. Ulrich E. Bach makes good use of existing scholarship and adds considerably to previous studies on the topic.” · Hillary Hope Herzog, University of Kentucky


The Austrian Empire was not a colonial power in the sense that fellow actors like 19th-century England and France were. It nevertheless oversaw a multinational federation where the capital of Vienna was unmistakably linked with its eastern periphery in a quasi-colonial arrangement that inevitably shaped the cultural and intellectual life of the Habsburg Empire. This was particularly evident in the era’s colonial utopian writing, and Tropics of Vienna blends literary criticism, cultural theory, and historical analysis to illuminate this curious genre. By analyzing the works of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Theodor Herzl, Joseph Roth, and other representative Austrian writers, it reveals a shared longing for alternative social and spatial configurations beyond the concept of the “nation-state” prevalent at the time.

Ulrich E. Bach is an Associate Professor of German at Texas State University. He received his doctorate from UCLA. His work has appeared in publications such as German Quarterly, Utopian Studies, and Film and History.

Subject: General Cultural Studies 18th/19th Century History 20th Century History
Area: Central/Eastern Europe




Chapter 1. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch: Utopian Periphery
Chapter 2. Lazar von Hellenbach: Utopia or Theosophy
Chapter 3. Theodor Hertzka: Seeking Emptiness
Chapter 4. Theodor Herzl: Vienna in Palestine
Chapter 5. Robert Mueller: Anti-Exoticism and Joseph Roth: Finis Austriae


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