Since his arrival at the University of New Orleans in 1989, history professor and Center Austria director Günter Bischof has chronicled the political eras of Austrian history while working on Austrian-U.S. relations via a study abroad program in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck.
Bischof, who grew up in the Alpine village of Mellau on the Swiss border and earned a master’s degree in history from the UNO, was celebrated March 7 for his scholarly labors and heaped with praise for the sheer volume of his published works.
“His tireless dedication to research and teaching has inspired countless students and colleagues, and his passion for his subject is truly infectious,” said Ray Wang, dean of Earl K. Long Library and information services.
Wang gave an opening address before the discussion between Bischof and UNO Press editor Abram Himelstein, entitled, “25 Years of Center Austria Publishing at UNO.”
Through a partnership with UNO Press, Center Austria has published a wealth of scholarly work that has helped with the understanding of European history, culture and politics, said Wang.
Bischof co-founded the Contemporary Austrian Studies (CAS) journal in 1993 as an annual publication. Contemporary Austrian Studies is an interdisciplinary social studies journal that covers modern Austria since 1918. The UNO Press recently published Volume 32 of the journal.
Each volume is dedicated to a specific theme, with essays, forums, historiography, roundtables, book reviews and an annual review of Austrian politics complementing each volume.
“As we celebrate Center Austria’s 25 years of publishing with UNO Press, we also honor and celebrate the remarkable achievement of professor Günter Bischof whose name is synonymous with the center,” said Wang. “Over the course of his distinguished career, professor Bischof has made countless contributions to the field of history and international studies. His dedication to academic excellence and cultural exchange has helped to build lasting connections between scholars and students on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Founded in 1997, Center Austria is a research and discourse hub for Austrian and European studies at UNO and in New Orleans. The center advances understanding of Austrian and Central European culture through scholarly and artistic activities, and academic partnerships.
The University of New Orleans’ flagship study abroad program in Innsbruck, Austria is the University’s largest and oldest study abroad program.
A long table held a display of several dozen books that were written or edited by Bischof.
“It’s just a tremendous body of work,” said Himelstein. “It’s not just the number, but the breadth and depth of it is really impressive.”
The cache included books about the Marshall Plan, Austrian immigration to the United States, Austrian myths and UNO Press’s reigning best-seller that was edited by Bischof, “Kreisky, Israel, and Jewish Identity,” by Daniel Aschheim. The book explores the life Austria’s long-serving Socialist chancellor Bruno Kreisky and the role his Jewishness played in his politics and identity.
“This is really a tremendous amount of production for any human to create, much less somebody who was at the same time overseeing dissertation committees, being a professor, doing a lot of travel,” Himelstein said. “It’s a staggering amount.”
Bischof thanked is wife, Melanie Boulet, and his children for supporting his prodigious publishing quests. He was able to write many of the books because he could plan them out while on school breaks and vacation, Bischof said.
“I have a great partner in life,” Bischof said. “They allowed me to go upstairs, particularly during holidays,” in order to write and research.
As he leans toward retirement, Bischof said he wants to write about interesting Austrian immigrants, some of whom he shares a connection—like Norbert Bischofberger, the Austrian inventor of the flu medication Tamiflu or the Kohler family, the makers of bathtubs, sinks and toilets. Both families came from or near his Austrian village, Bischof said.
“When you think of migration, usually you handle it with big numbers, big data,” he said. “We know very little about individual biography so I think …there are lots of fascinating stories like that.”