A significant part of my scholarship to date has focused on sepulchral history in Central Europe, especially the history of Vienna’s Jewish cemeteries from the Middle Ages to the present day. This formed the topic first of my PhD dissertation, The Place of My Fathers’ Sepulchres (completed in 2015) and then of my first monograph, Die Grabstätten meiner Väter (German, published with Böhlau in 2021).
My current book project, provisionally entitled Once the Only True Austrians, focuses on memoirs penned by Jewish Austrians and Austrians persecuted as Jews under National Socialism who emigrated or fled to the United States during the twentieth century. Of particular interest here is the manner in which they remembered the Austria of yesteryear (both empire and republic) and how they positioned themselves as former Austrians starting a new life in the United States. You can read an interim report on the book project (in German) here.
Die Grabstätten meiner Väter
Die Grabstätten meiner Väter: Die jüdischen Friedhöfe in Wien (Schriften des Centrums für Jüdische Studien, Vol. 36, Vienna: Böhlau 2021), 1041 pp.
Vienna’s Jewish cemeteries are among the only surviving sites in the city’s cultural topography that testify to its profound 800-year Jewish history. These urban spaces are material archives of this history, their over 100,000 preserved gravestones constituting unique artefacts of Jewish life in the city over the centuries. Together with their inscriptions, they constitute historical sources of immeasurable value. The vagarious position of Vienna’s Jewish cemeteries in sociopolitical discourses, including the occasional destructions they suffered, offer a consistent insight into contemporary understandings of culture, society, and belonging in the city of Vienna and of the mutable conceptions of Austrianness as they unfolded over the centuries. This book presents for the first time a comprehensive analysis of the development of Vienna’s Jewish sepulchral culture from the Middle Ages into the present, which simultaneously sheds a new light on the Jewish history of the city.
You can view the front matter, table of contents, and preface of the book here.
In 2021, Die Grabstätten meiner Väter was awarded the Michael Mitterauer Prize (Recognition Award) of the University of Vienna. The expert appraisals of my work can be read with kind permission of the committee here.
What the critics say:
- “This highly original approach has produced a masterpiece.” Evan Burr Bukey, Contemporary Austrian Studies. You can read the full review here.
- “Meticulously researched (…) a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Jewish culture in Vienna.” Joseph Moser, Journal of Austrian Studies. You can read the full review here.
- “Gripping (…) inspirational (…) impressive (…) painstakingly researched.” Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz, Medaon: Magazin für jüdisches Leben in Forschung und Bildung. You can read the full review (in German) here.
- “An important contribution to research on Jewish cemeteries and the histories reflected therein.” Anke Geißler-Grünberg, PaRDeS: Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies in Germany. You can read the full review (in German) here.
- “An excellent publication. (…) Corbett offers a fascinating insight into the history of Vienna’s Jewish cemeteries and into Vienna’s Jewish history generally.” Monika Halbinger, HaGalil: Jüdisches Leben Online. You can read the full review (in German) here.
- “A fantastic definitive work. (…) An absolutely fascinating read and not least of all a fundamental reference book.” Anita Pollak, Wina: Das jüdische Stadtmagazin. You can read the full review (in German) here.
You can listen to a podcast interview about my book conducted by Florian Müller (in German) on Radio Augustin.