The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
The Modern Austrian Literature and Culture Association, or MALCA, as it was known in abbreviated parlance, has voted to become the Austrian Studies Association upon its Annual Conference in April 2012.
Held this year at the California State University Long Beach, under the auspices of faculty member Nele Hempel-Lamer, the topic of the well attended conference was well suited for the action: "AEIOU-Global Austria." The change was made in an effort to be more inclusive in providing a platform for international Austrianists and Austrian studies.
As per ASA's self-statement, the association is an "interdisciplinary organization that welcomes all eras and disciplines of Austrian studies at its conferences and in its journal, including scholarship on the cultures of Austria's earlier political forms (the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Empire, and Austria-Hungary) and scholarship that acknowledges this region's historical multiethnic, multilingual, and transcultural identities."
Initiated by outgoing President David Luft (Oregon State University), the association's long published journal, Modern Austrian Literature parallels this shift with a new name, the Journal of Austrian Studies, and its former editor Craig Decker (Bates College) and new editors Todd Herzog (University of Cincinatti) and Hillary Hope Herzog (University of Kentucky) have insured the growth of the journal through its publication by the University of Nebraska Press and with an international editorial board.
Business Manager and Web-coordinator, Katie Arens (University of Texas at Austin) promises a more membership- friendly interaction online and one that will reach beyond the U.S., Canada, and German-speaking countries.
Incoming President of the Association, Robert Dassanowsky (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs), welcomes and enthusiastically encourages such growth as a move towards an even stronger recognition of Austrian studies and the Austrianist in global academe. As a specialist in Austrian cinema and various cultural-historical periods, he believes the expanded mission of ASA embraces those, like himself, who felt the original moniker unintentionally alienated a diverse focus on Austrian arts and cultural history.
With the 2013 Annual Conference to be held at the University of Waterloo in Canada under Michael Boehringer, and future conferences scheduled and planned for Canada, the U.S. and Austria, the growth is already visible. Dassanowsky intends to look to Austrianists beyond North America and Europe, and underscores the positive and timely revitalization that shapes ASA: "Literature was my scholarly beginning and will always be a central point of Austrian Studies.
But the very idea of a successful presentation and study of specific cultural history depends on the interdependence and inclusivity of all mediums, genres, ethnic relationships, and eras, as well as being open to new concepts in presenting artistic communication. This breadth on every level of historical creativity and contemporary study has made Austrian culture unique and uniquely influential."