Universiteit Leiden

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Foundation for Austrian Studies

X Anniversary Convention of the Centre of Austrian Studies in November 2016 in Jerusalem

Impressions by Martin Küster, Master of Arts.

June 2016 I graduated in the ResMA programm Arts & Culture at Leiden University, specialising in the history of collections. I wrote my thesis on the role of royal collections and chambers of curiosities in economic education in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Building on that theme I worked on a PhD proposal which focusses on royal collections as representations of the state economy. They even served to stimulate innovations and economic growth.

My tutor dr. Marika Keblusek (Leiden University) introduced me to attended Prof. Jeroen Duindam, professor in early modern history at the Leiden University. After a first meeting Prof. Duindam invited me to participate in the 10th Anniversary Convention of the Centre of Austrian Studies in November 2016 in Jerusalem.

I was quite excited to attend this congress, because it gave me the opportunity to present my PhD proposal to a totally unknown, international audience of professors and students of different academic backgrounds in order to get a fresh and critical view on my subject matter.

On our arrival, during an informal dinner, we were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the other participants. The following days we had intensive sessions of presentations on a great variety of subjects, reaching back to Renaissance books and academic networks, up to twentieth century political British history as well as literature and media statistics. I found it quite a challenge to respond to the presentations of other fields of expertise than my own. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from the other participants, especially about the way they had structured their PhD proposals and how they dealt with the ‘weak’ links of their research. My presentation went very well. In particular Prof. Josef Patrouch, University of Alberta, and Prof. Howard Louthan, University of Minnesota showed their critical view and input, for which I am very grateful. I experienced our conversations during the breaks as very valuable and inspiring, as professor Louthan refered to a collection in the province of Hessen/Germany unknown to me then, which I can know use as a case study for my PhD thesis. Both, Professor Patrouch and professor Louthan really showed interest in my subject and offered their help in the future. Professor Louthan asked me to study with him in the US. This is of course a great opportunity, but without substantial funds it is not possible for me.

Beside the hard work during the presentation sessions, we enjoyed several excursions to the surroundings of Jerusalem: Massada, bathing in the Dead See and the amazing historical city centre of Jerusalem. Our stay in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University was perfectly organised by Elisheva Moatti and prof. Noam Shoval. They were great hosts and made our stay an unforgettable experience. Back in Rotterdam, I submitted my article by the end of January as required. I am looking forward to my first publication.

I would like to express my special thanks to professor Duindam and the Austrian Ministry of Education and Science for giving me the opportunity to make my first steps in the academic world.

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