Stephen Zaksewicz wins Fulbright-Mach Award


“I was thrilled to have received the Fulbright-Mach Award from Fulbright Austria to spend the 2022-2023 academic year conducting dissertation research in Vienna, Austria. My dissertation considers how novels by contemporary Austrian authors depict different understandings and experiences of nature and how the imagined relationship between humanity and nature impacts contemporary conceptions of the world. The cultural and political imaginary of the small “Alpine Republic” has long been closely tied to nature, not always in unproblematic ways, and I argue that contemporary authors are refiguring the way nature is imagined as a result of the nation’s lengthy use and abuse of nature. Furthermore, this refiguration is occurring in the Anthropocene, the current era of undeniable anthropogenic climate change and crisis, which forces humanity to reconsider how it inhabits and interacts with its earthly home. Thanks to the Fulbright award, I was able to attend a graduate seminar at the University of Vienna given by Dr. Eva Horn, a leading expert on Anthropocene studies, that investigated the term “Landscape” (“Landschaft”) and its history as an aesthetic, political, and socio-cultural frame for understanding nature, which has proved invaluable for my study of that relationship in literature. I was also able to attend the University’s Ernst-Jandl-Poetics lecture series of Raoul Schrott, one of the writers whose novels are central to my dissertation. Finally, I was accepted to participate in an in international conference querying the relationship between mountains and individual subjectivites, which substantially enriched one of my dissertation chapts dealign with the “sublime” as a kind of experience of that particular natural topos. Spending the year in Vienna allowed me to immerse myself in the literary/artistic, cultural, and intellectual setting that is home to the kinds of questions my dissertation poses about the relationship between places, their imaginations of nature, and the crises of the contemporary, globalized world.”