My multiple Fulbright experiences in Austria have profoundly shaped my professional research and resulted in valuable professional collaborations and lasting personal friendships. While working on my dissertation in 1982-83, I really learned the importance of sharing my work and getting important critical feedback. Pieter Judson, another Fulbright Student working on his dissertation, organized a group of those of us and we presented our research on a regular basis. Not only did this keep many of us on task, but it exposed us to fascinating research from across a variety of disciplines in Austrian Studies and planted the seeds for later collaborations. In addition to our monthly meetings, a smaller group of us working at the Nationalbibliothek met on an almost daily basis at the Kantine where we discussed our work. However, the collaborations and friendships extended beyond the boundaries of Vienna. Geoffrey Howes, who was working on a dissertation on Robert Musil and stationed in Klagenfurt, visited on several occasions with his wife Christin Giblin. Who would have guessed that about twenty years hence Geoff and I would co-edit Modern Austrian Literature and work on reconfiguring the North American organization devoted to the study of Austrian literature.
Looking at the pictures from a recent Austrian Studies Conference I hosted at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, I am reminded of the importance of the support of the Fulbright for so many scholars of Austrian Studies. Many of the over 100 attendees were Fulbright recipients. In their professional lives, they have produced important works on Austrian literature and culture and promoted cultural exchange between Austrian and the United States in and outside the classroom. It was during multiple Fulbright stays that I met the guest artists (Ursula Huebner and Maja Haderlap) and invited speaker (Diane Shooman).
Prof. Jacqueline Vansant was a US Fulbright Student of German at the University of Vienna in 1982-83 and the Fulbright - University of Vienna Visiting Professor of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences in 2015-16. She received her PhD at the University of Texas in 1986 and is currently a Professor of German at the University of Michigan.