Vienna Summer
Forbes earns prestigious visiting professorship in Vienna

Geraldine Forbes, distinguished teaching professor in history, will share her expertise this summer as the Kathe Leichter Visiting Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Vienna.

Geraldine Forbes.Forbes will teach three nine-week courses, in English, at what is both the largest university in Austria and the oldest German-speaking university in the world, dating back to 1365.

Putting together those courses—an introductory class on Indian women’s history and culture, a specialized course on global feminisms and a seminar on visual history—is a welcome challenge, she said. “When you go outside the way you’re doing things, it’s such a big push,” she said.

“It’s a very different situation,” Forbes said of the Austrian university structure. “Classes are longer than ours. It’s more lecture, less interaction.”

Forbes was selected on her publications record and ability to infuse a worldview into the subject matter. For example, her global feminisms course will provide an opportunity to compare the views and practices of the United States, India and China with those of Europe.

Honored name

Forbes has been impressed learning more about Leichter, a Holocaust victim, scholar, political leader, activist and progressive hero in Austria. Her name is affiliated with many educational efforts, scholarships for girls and lecturing positions.

“This is an extraordinary honor, that’s it’s named after this inspiring woman,” she said.

The visiting lectureship will help her delve into how feminism is viewed and practiced in Europe. “I look forward to meeting and talking to women and men and learning their views and what they read,” she said.

“Their feminism is different than ours,” she said of the European view, which is outward-looking in terms of political critiques of society and power structures. “People often see American feminism ensconced in family politics and say we’re more inwards-focused as opposed to being outward-focused on world politics.”

The city, with its rich history, vibrant culture and renowned architecture, is an attraction as well.

“I’m really looking forward to teaching in Vienna,” Forbes said. “I think that’s just going to be a fascinating experience.”

(Posted: Feb 11, 2011)