GERM 305 - Traces of Empire

4 credits

Four weeks in Graz, Austria

Professor Debra Prager

Traces of Empire is a cultural studies and German language immersion course based in Graz, Austria. Located in the federal state of Styria at the foot of the Alps, Graz is fusion of contemporary and traditional, a university town with a vibrant cultural scene and a perfectly preserved Altstadt. It has been named both a UNESCO city of Design and a World Heritage Site. In Graz, and during a 5-day stay in Vienna, students will build their German communication skills, learn about Austrian student and family life, and study the legacy of Austria's past as the powerful, multi-national Austro-Hungarian Empire. The course will examine the traces of that past and its impact on contemporary Austria's politics and its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity. 

The class will meet first in Vienna for an introduction to the city before traveling by train to Graz, where students will live with host families. After morning language classes, the afternoons will be devoted to exploring the city and its environs and participating in workshops and discussions. Previously, these have included a reception for students and their host families at the elegant neo-Renaissance Rathaus (seat of the Styrian parliament), and workshops led by host parents and lecturers on topics such as the migration crisis, Jewish life in Austria, classical music, and how to appreciate opera. In keeping with the modern-meets-tradition theme, we will explore castles, raise the maypole in a Styrian village, and lunch in small, family-run vineyards; as well as meet the marketing director of Tyromotion (a successful start-up robotics company) and visit Styria, one of Austria's largest media groups.   At the halfway point, the class returns to Vienna for five days. Highlights include an evening at the opera, an outdoor concert in courtyard of the imperial palace, and visits to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Imperial Treasury, where we will examine the role of power in the socio-political construction of "taste. To better understand contemporary political and social challenges, we will also meet with a member of the Greens Party at the Austrian parliament (see image) and have dinner and a conversation with the director of Vienna's 16th district - known for its large immigrant community.

On the final weekend, the course will close in true Austrian style, with a Wanderung in the Austrian Alps.

Prerequisite: GERM 262 or equivalent.

Program Fee (paid to W&L): $4,200. This includes accommodation and activities in Graz and Vienna (homestays in Graz), group meals; ground transportation, language course in Graz; welcome and farewell dinners.

Estimated Additional Expenses: Airfare - $1,000; free weekend (excursion in Graz environs) - $100; transportation by bus from Graz to Vienna airport at end of program - $15; taxis - $40; suggested spending money - $300.

For further details, please contact Prof. Prager at