The Austrian Association for American Studies is mourning the death of its current President and long time member Kurt Albert Mayer, who passed away tragically and unexpectedly on July 19, 2002.
That what he valued most was Motion,
and that what attracted his mind was Change… (Henry Adams)
Kurt A. Mayer was Professor of American Studies at the University of Vienna, where he had taught since 1986. From 1980 to 1982 he had held a Fulbright scholarship at the English Department of SUNY/Buffalo, where he studied with Marcus Klein and received an M.A. Upon his return to Vienna he began work on his Ph.D., which he received in 1986. In 1999 he was appointed “Universitätsdozent” (Venia docendi for “Amerikanistik”) after having completed his Habilitation on “Henry Adams and the German-speaking World.”
Kurt Mayer was an excellent scholar and teacher, whose work will continue to inspire many young colleagues and students. His scholarship went deeper than research, for he brought to his intellectual projects a great depth of experience and thought. To his students, he was unique as he considered them partners in the project of critical inquiry. His readiness to help impressed his colleagues, just as his multi-faceted interests and knowledge of Austrian and American Culture, ranging from Henry Adams to Wolfgang Ambros, from the Reconstruction period to road movies and from Longfellow to Little Feat. He will be fondly remembered for his outstanding scholarship, his pivotal position as an organizer of scholarly groups and excursions, and his prolific production of pioneering academic websites. The “Easy Rider” web anthology remains a living presence of Kurt’s Geist.
In his enthusiastic intellect., Kurt A. Mayer was a keen observer of cultures, always paying attention to the interconnectedness of American and Austrian culture. Kurt was a compassionate intellectual, and his aspirations seemed boundless. It is tragic that his many projects were cut short by his death at an early age. As President of the AAAS, he was planning this year’s conference on the topic of (Anti-) Americanisms. The organizers hope that the conference reflects Kurt’s ideas and ideals.
Our hearts and minds will remember him.
Astrid M. Fellner