Monday, September 21, 2009


I am currently in Klagenfurt, Austria, where tomorrow I am giving a plenary speech to Anglistentag 2009, a gathering of German-speaking professors of English. I am writing this as I had to return to my sumptuous hotel, the Lindner Seepark, in order to get a jacket and tie; I usually reserve these accoutrements for the days I am actually giving my talk, but, unlike on my last international conference trip to Brazil, the Teutonic formality of the occasion (even though all the peopel afre friendly, engaging, and unpretentious) clearly dictates a more stringent dress code.

Klagenfurt is, as one of the Forum speakers in the morning said (in German, therefore so far as I understood it) the southernmost city in the German-speaking world, near the Slovenian border (the university makes a deliberate attmept to be trilingual, with signs in Slovenian and Italian as well as German, and therefore a place of liminality that can meaningfully position itself in the context of diaspora and globalization in the Englsish-speaking world. In practice, the only language one hears on the street is German, and this region, as the bastion of the late Jörg Haider, is more 'conservative' than 'multicultural' in inclination, more Tea Party than Spivak or Bhabha in mien, though the people on the street and in the hotel are, again, friendly and charming. The ciy feels like a small city in the hillier regions of the Northeast or mid-Atlantic, sedate yet vigorous, with many new buildings. It is also the beach volleyball capital of Austria. The large lake, the Wörthersee, is now near to all that Austria has for a seacoast, Trieste and Pola of course having been long denied it.

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