Exploring Transylvania: Geographies of Knowledge and Entangled Histories in a Multiethnic Province, 1790–1918


Exploring Transylvania by Török reconstructs the fissured scholarly landscape in one of the most culturally heterogeneous regions of the Habsburg Monarchy. The author creates an original model of the structure and historical dynamics of an East-Central European province in the republic of letters by tracing the activities of learned societies engaged in the exploration of their fatherland and their connections to national academic centers outside Transylvania. Analyzing the entangled history of the local German, Hungarian, and Romanian scholarly cultures, the book demonstrates how a persisting politics of difference, practiced by various political regimes over the long nineteenth century, solidified national hierarchies and exacerbated endemic tensions both in the Transylvanian intellectual milieus and in scholarship itself.

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Borbála Zsuzsanna Török is Associated Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz. As a historian of modern Europe, her research analyzes the configuration of scholarship in imperial settings, including her co-edited volume Negotiating Knowledge in Early Modern Empires (Palgrave, 2014).
'Exploring Transylvania is not a book to be filed away in a single geographic or chronological pigeonhole. It is a worthy contribution to the ongoing task of “Europeanizing” the history of East Central Europe while still taking the region seriously on its own merits. Likewise, it is a salutary challenge to often illusory barriers of periodization separating the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. And even though Török’s narrative contains a considerable number of moving parts, she does an admirable job of orchestrating them in a way that not only makes easy for the reader to engage with the text.'
Andrew Behrendt in: H-Nationalism, H-Net Reviews. April, 2018.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=49126
Acknowledgements ... ix
List of Illustrations ... xi
List of Geographical Names in Transylvania ... xiii

Introduction ... 1
Nineteenth-Century Transylvanian Intellectual Milieus ... 1
Science in the Composite Monarchy ... 11
Interlocking Scientific Cultures in the Province ... 23

1 Landeskunde, honismeret—Patriotic Scholarship and Vernacular Languages ... 27
The Heritage of Josephist Politics: Impulses to Historiography ... 30
Language Politics and Education: Synchronizing Transylvania with the Polite World ... 34
Stages of National Improvement: Diagnosing Backwardness ... 42
The Regional Particularities of Landeskunde: Hierarchy of Civilizations ... 46
The Hungarian Language Society: Fencing off Vernacular Culture ... 50

2 The Friends of Progress in the Transylvanian Age of Reform ... 58
Grassroots Scholarship: Verein für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde ... 62
Regional or National Science? A Saxon-Hungarian Dispute at the Transylvanian Diet ... 76
Learned Sociability and Projects of National Improvement ... 84
The Image of Transylvania in Foreign Travelogues ... 99

3 The Nationalization of Landeskunde and Civic Ethos after 1848 ... 107
Politics, Public Life, and Self-Formation during the Neo-Absolutist Decade ... 109
The Consolidation of the Landeskundeverein under Austrian Auspices ... 117
Saxon Landeskunde between Erudition and Popularization ... 125
The Transylvanian Museum Society: historia magistra vitae ... 136
Magyar honismeret: An Appendage of Pest? ... 149
ASTRA and Romanian Cross-Border Scholarly Communication ... 156

4 Uneven Development during the Austro-Hungarian Compromise (1867–1914) 163
Landeskunde: Virtual Collection of the Transylvanian Saxon Past ... 164
“The Border between History and Political Essay is Difficult to Draw”: Public Landeskunde ... 177
The Museum Society: Facing Professionalization ... 188
Musealization of honismeret: National History in Context ... 194
Middle-Class Academics against Aristocratic Amateurs? The Case of the Torma Collection ... 205
“Our Leading Hungarian Race”: The National Edge of honismeret ... 212

5 Conclusion ... 231
Geographies (and Temporalities) of Polymath Learning ... 231
What was Landeskunde? ... 237
The Transformation of the Republic of Letters in the Nation-State ... 240

Bibliography ... 247
Index ... 281
Anyone interested in modern Habsburg, Hungarian, and Transylvanian history, the history of national elites and nationalisms, scholarship and scholarly sociability in ethnically heterogeneous regions, such as East-Central Europe.
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