Kleine Institutsgeschichte

Brief institute history

In November 1964, the Institute for Romance Philology began teaching at the Paris Lodron University, which had been re-founded two years prior. In December of the same year, Dr. Rudolf Baehr (1922-2010; emeritus 1990) was appointed the first professor (specialising in French and Italian literature). The Institute was initially housed at Mirabellplatz in three rooms of the so-called Kastvilla. The primary task of the few staff members in this founding phase was to set up the curricula in French and Italian and to establish a specialised library.

With the growing number of students and the appointment of Dr Felix Karlinger (1920-2000; emeritus 1980) in 1966 as the second university professor (Ibero-Romance and Romanian literature), it had become necessary to move to a new building, which was found at Zillnerstrasse 6. Finally, in 1971, Dr. Mario Wandruszka (1911-2004; emeritus 1981) was appointed professor of linguistics. After the construction of new institute buildings in Akademiestrasse, the institute moved there in 1973, where it was to remain – first as the Institute of Romance Philology, then renamed the Institute of Romance Studies – for almost 40 years before it changed locations again in 2011 – now as the Department of Romance Studies – and was relocated to the new building Uni-Park at Erzabt-Klotz-Strasse 1.

The second generation of professors as successors to the aforementioned are Dr Dieter Messner (born 1942; successor to Karlinger; emeritus 2011), Dr Hans Goebl (born 1943; successor to Wandruszka; emeritus 2012) and Dr Peter Kuon (born 1953; successor to Baehr). They were joined in 2004 by Dr Christopher Laferl (born 1963), through whom the broad spectrum of Ibero-Romance cultures is covered academically. The third generation includes Dr Bernhard Pöll (born 1968; Messner’s successor) since 2012 and Dr Matthias Heinz (born 1974; Goebl’s successor) since 2013.

The main degree programmes offered are the teacher education programme in French, Italian and Spanish, which the majority of students pursue, and the Bachelor’s/Master’s degree programmes in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. While Portuguese is also very popular, Romanian was discontinued as a field of study in 2001, as the descendants of the Transylvanian Saxons who settled in Salzburg after 1945 no longer had any linguistic relationship to the former homeland of their parents, Romania. The expansion to “comprehensive” Romance Studies went hand in hand with the increase in the number of students. In 1971 there were about 200, just ten years later there were 1600 students. Associated with this is also the increased number of staff. While there were only 3 in 1964, there are almost 50 staff members in 2013, including 15 native speakers.

Dieter Messner