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Double Lecture on Empress Elisabeth in Spa History

May 20, 2022 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Empress Elisabeth

Empress Elisabeth
Image Credit: Evelyn Knappitsch

Sisi's spa travels

Sisi's spa travels
Image Credit: The European Spa, Kaitlin Ward

The European Spa Online Seminar Series presents:

Evelyn Knappitsch (University of Graz): Empress Elisabeth and Alfred Gurniak: A Hidden Spa-story(board) in 5 Places


Kaitlin Ward (University of Amsterdam): The Role of the Resort in the Legacy of Empress Elisabeth: an Exploratory Study in Digital Humanities 

Evelyn Knappitsch: Empress Elisabeth and Alfred Gurniak: A Hidden Spa-story(board) in Five Places.

This presentation is about a heterotopic romance between Empress Elisabeth of Austria, better known as Sisi, and her much younger admirer Alfred Gurniak Edler von Schreibendorf, who was socially far below her; It is a hidden love story that could only take place in the social interstices of modern spas, inscribed in the specific topography of Baden-Baden, Băile Herculane and Bad Gastein. In addition to tracing these entanglements, I also discuss the methodical handling of uncertain sources that do not allow us to recognize where fiction ends and reality begins, but gives us insight into an autofictional heterotopia of its protagonists.

Evelyn Knappitsch holds a doctorate in history from the University of Graz, where she is currently working as a lecturer for modern history. She will spend the fall/winter of 2022 at the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome on a grant from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, after which, in March 2023, she will take up a research fellowship at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) in Vienna. Her research interests include cultural history, 19th and early 20th century history, as well as the history of science and media.


Kaitlin Ward: The Role of the Resort in the Legacy of Empress Elisabeth: an Exploratory Study in Digital Humanities 

Empress Elisabeth (Sisi), one of the most prominent celebrity monarchs of the fin de siècle, is often remembered for her crown of hair, wasp-thin waist, and wanderlust. Allegedly caring little for her family or duties, she was instead a slave to her body and beauty, supposedly suffering from neurasthenia, melancholia and an undiagnosed eating disorder. From the very beginning, her contemporaries in the Viennese court were openly disdainful regarding her pedigree and imperial performance: They derided her absence from court yet were considered to be a main cause for it. Even her greatest champions, the Hungarians, grew concerned by her ever-increasing absences, as she roamed ever more listlessly and aimlessly. But are such stereotypes and assumptions, either from her time or ours, fair and accurate? In this presentation, I will guide you through how I built and used a database in Nodegoat to visualize and simulate Sisi's travels over both space and time to reveal data-driven insights that help create a more holistic understanding of where, why, and how she traveled.

Kaitlin Ward became a research assistant for The European Spa project as a student at the University of Amsterdam, where she is pursuing her second MA - this one in East European Studies. Out of general data-mining for the project’s Nodegoat database emerged an opportunity to explore more deeply how such a database could enhance an historically-based research project: Sisi, a prolific traveler during the golden age of the spa, proved a consummate subject on which to focus. From the exploratory study discussed in this presentation evolved the topic for Kaitlin’s pending thesis, which will focus on the elucidations from Nodegoat on the [hi]stories of Sisi monuments and nostalgia.

Please join us on zoom:  https://uva-live.zoom.us/j/84809699881


Time & Location

May 20, 2022 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM