The period following completion of one’s doctoral studies is a critical phase for early-stage researchers. A frequently low degree of professional security and precarious working conditions entail a high degree of pressure to publish and build a network—and one’s ability to pursue research interests individually or as part of larger projects often hinges on the successful acquisition of third-party funding.

Supporting early-stage researchers is a central aim of the mdw’s research strategy. One concrete measure toward its implementation has been the conception of the mdw PostDoc Fellowship, for which the Office of Research Support put out its first call for applications at the end of 2022. Postdocs who had either completed their doctorates at the mdw or been employed at the University during the previous two years were invited to apply by the March deadline. The programme has established two temporary part-time positions that provide the fellows with financial security and affiliation with the University while they prepare their proposals for third-party funding. An interdisciplinary jury comprised of both internal and external experts selected two project proposals from the submissions.

Raz Weiner was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Cultural Management and Gender Studies (IKM) from June to September 2023, during which time he worked under the supervision of Evelyn Annuß to submit a proposal for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the EU. Weiner plans to use the change in rhetoric by the right-wing / conservative coalition following the 2022 election in Israel as an example in light of which to investigate what happens to queer performance of citizenship when the state no longer cares to appear gay-friendly. In the course of his mdw fellowship, Weiner was able to reinforce his project’s gender studies approaches as well as expand his methodology to include interdisciplinary aspects. He recounts that the networking and exchange with other early-stage researchers at the department were highlights of his time at mdw. “Also, a special experience was my presentation at a conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research in July in Accra, Ghana. There just a few days before, an anti-LGBTQI+ law had been passed in parliament. Together with other researchers, we then used the conference to discuss the situation with local activists.”

Henrike Rost, the second mdw postdoctoral fellow, joined the mdw in October 2023. Her project, supervised by Melanie Unseld at the Department of Musicology and Performance Studies (IMI), focuses on the as yet unpublished diaries of Max Kalbeck (1850–1921). In his personal writings, Kalbeck—himself an influential figure as a music critic, poet, librettist, and biographer of Johannes Brahms—portrayed Vienna’s turn-of-the-century cultural elite. This research project aims to transcribe his diaries from the years of 1895 and 1897 and subsequently publish them as a digital edition with a comprehensive index of persons. Henrike Rost employs a micro- or everyday-historical perspective that encompasses questions pertaining to the connections between the arts as well as the roles of women and Jewish intellectuals prior to the dawn of the 20th century. “This PostDoc Fellowship enables me to access additional sources onsite and benefit from the experience that exists within the department where the areas of network and family research are concerned,” reports Rost, who plans to submit a proposal to the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

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