WS-Report: HABSBURG Discussion Network – Insights and Future Plans, Vienna, June 5, 2018

Marion Romberg's picture

On Wednesday, 5 June 2018, the editors of HABSBURG organized a workshop on the topic “HABSBURG Discussion Network – Insights and Future Plans“ in Vienna. They met a lively, international audience of subscribers at the event hosted by the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Historical Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The workshop, carried out in English and German, covered the history, resources, activities, and future direction of the list. In an informal atmosphere there was much discussion and debate over the course of two hours.

The workshop began with an introductory round where everyone introduced themselves and talked of their experience with HABSBURG. Marion Romberg (network editor) then described the network and its many resources (e.g. to post queries and thus reaching out to a vast community of experts). She especially focused on the moderation procedure and regulations (what we post cannot be edited and deleted; we post what we get). There were questions about specific uses and about possible languages (while the main language is English, posts and discussions in other languages are welcome).

Franz Adlgasser (advisory board) talked about the history of the list: its beginnings in the early 1990s as a discussion group of mainly American researchers, its joining H-Net (founded in 1993)–thus not having the usual “H-“ in front of its name–through the various waves of changes over time, including the migration to the new platform in 2014 (see HABSBURG archive). In general, it has moved from a discussion network to an information disseminator. Adlgasser and the editors stressed that HABSBURG’s content and activity are flexible and depend on initiatives from the editors and the subscribers.

Jonathan Kwan and Borislav Chernev (book reviews editors) then outlined the procedure for book reviews. These are commissioned by the book reviews editors and are processed centrally through the Reviews Management System, which enables the review editor, copy editor, and reviewer to remain constantly in touch. They also pointed out that HABSBURG encourages a frank and courteous exchange of scholarly opinions and thus can point to lively current directions in the historiography of East Central Europe.

Tim Olin (network editor) presented the new project of posting course syllabi. These syllabi are extremely useful for people who are planning a new class or are looking to update an existing one. The founders of this platform started collecting syllabi on the history and culture of the region, and we are looking to reinvigorate this original mission. The project started off with re-publishing the archived 54 syllabi, which had been on the old HABSBURG website until 2012. A call for additional submissions will be posted later in 2018.

Finally, there was an open discussion about the potential of HABSBURG and its future direction. A constant theme was how to make subscribers more active on the network. Suggestions included a less formal site (though it must follow H-Net guidelines), a greeting in different languages, promoting posts with specific queries, as well as more extensive publicity and a widening of the subscriber base. An attendee from Innsbruck University mentioned possible co-operation.

Another topic of discussion was how to join the editorial team of HABSBURG. The editors emphasized that applications for the role as a network editor or reviews editor are always welcome from anyone willing to contribute and to take on responsibilities. All that is required is a cover letter and academic CV sent to the present editors.

The workshop presented a unique opportunity for the editors to meet in person, to take stock of the list and to discuss future possibilities with subscribers and anyone interested. With over 1,700 subscribers including experts in many different fields (but all with an interest in the history of the Habsburg Monarchy and its lands), the list represents a vast virtual community of scholars. To a large extent how the list is used depends on the editors and the subscribers. It is hoped that this workshop will provide fresh impetus to the list.

The editorial team would like to thank all participants for their contribution and are looking forward to implement some of the ideas and suggestions. Stay tuned for new exciting projects!