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Frederique Visser wins Hugo Weiland Thesis Prize 2020

This year, the second Hugo Weiland Thesis Prize of the Foundation for Austrian Studies has been awarded. This prize, in honour of the founder and long-standing chair of the Foundation of Mr. Weiland, is awarded to high quality theses dedicated to the history, culture, and politics of Austria and Central Europe. Among the theses submitted in 2020, Frederique Visser’s thesis won.

Frederique master thesis titled 'The Watch on the Danube': a Bridge between Stability and Conflict - Territorial Identification in Linz, 1908-1928 was selected as the winning thesis by a jury consisting of prof.dr. Monika Baár, prof.dr. Jeroen Duindam, dr. Felicia Rosu, dr. Ferenc Laczó (Maastricht University), dr. Patrick Dassen, and the winner of the 2018 prize, Quinten Somsen MA.

This year, there was a runner-up as well, namely Michael Rowland. His bachelor thesis, written at the University of Amsterdam under supervision of dr. Ewa Stanczyk, is titled 'Young angry people’: The representation of Anglo-American pop-rock in Przekrój 1964-74. Michael uses an ample selection of Przekrój’s articles on pop rock as well as including insights from e-mail interviews he conducted, and thereby produced a remarkably strong BA thesis, indeed easily acceptable at the MA level. The thesis is based on research in a rich array of primary sources supported by literature and provides relevant outcomes.

It is not the first prize Frederique won with her thesis; it was earlier awarded with the Fruinprijs of 2020 as well.

Frederique writes about her research and thesis:

“Looking back on my studies, it feels strange to think about a time I wasn´t interested in the history of Austria-Hungary and the First Austrian Republic. As a Bachelor student, my search for a thesis topic focused on quite broad themes, such as ‘nationalism’ and ‘nineteenth-century history’. First, it seemed easier to make a list of all the things I did not want to do. The history of Austria did not even cross my mind at the time. Surprisingly, after dr. Eric Storm’s suggestion to look into some literature on the nationality question at the turn of the nineteenth-century, I was immediately hooked. One article on the Golden Jubilee of Franz Joseph in 1898 illustrated how immensely complex and fascinating Austria-Hungary was and convinced me that it would make for a perfect thesis topic.

Almost four years and two theses later, I could not be more grateful for that suggestion. The history of Austria-Hungary has not once disappointed me as a field of study and I still feel it offers everything a historian might want. In 2019, I was fortunate enough to spend almost two months in several archives in Linz and Vienna with the help of the Foundation for Austrian Studies and the Leiden International Study Fund (LISF). Even though the dusty archives were a source of many awkward sneezes, I loved spending time in Austria and being able to research my topic using the actual 100-year-old sources.

The time I spent in the libraries and archives enabled me to research my topic ‘continuity between Austria-Hungary and the First Austrian Republic’ from a local perspective. After reading literature on the period before and after the First World War, I felt like I was reading two different histories instead of one. In this case, Austria’s history was split in ‘before’ and ‘after’ 1918. Many historical studies focus on the many differences between the Empire and the Republic. But did that mean that people changed overnight? That seemed like an unlikely conclusion to me. This question was the starting point for my MA thesis 'The Watch on the Danube’: a Bridge between Stability and Conflict - Territorial Identification in Linz, 1908-1928 in which I analyzed cultural continuity in the festive culture of Linz.

I was overjoyed when I heard that I had won the Fruin Prize for my thesis after receiving my degree last September. A few weeks ago I received the surprising news that I have also won the Mr. H. Weiland Thesis Prize. This feels like an extreme honour and I am very grateful for the advice and support of dr. Eric Storm and dr. Monika Baár, who continuously helped me to write the best possible version of my thesis.”

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