Reading the Danube

(Trans)national Narratives in the 20th and 21st Centuries


The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, currently touching or flowing through ten countries. In the 19th century, the idea of the Danube as a ribbon connecting diverse peoples and the Occident with the Orient had become firmly established. In the 20th century, this transnational metaphor was at times rejected, replaced and supplemented by other images. Nevertheless, in times of profound upheaval, such as in the years after the First and Second World Wars, around 1989, at the time of the collapse of communism, or during the Yugoslav wars, the narrative of the river as the “great integrator“ (Esterházy 1992) became more and more important.
The aim of this project is an analysis, grounded in media- and culture-studies, of the 20th and 21st century narratives surrounding the Danube and how they have informed various identities. The objects of research are various media such as literary texts, photographs and films which depict the Danube for certain social communities and forge its image for identification. The project will analyze them both in terms of their narrative logic and - in a second step - in terms of transmedia connections and cross-cultural translations.

Publications: Christoph Leitgeb, Anton Holzer, Edith Király