Teaching the Empire: Education and State Loyalty in Late Habsburg Austria

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This dissertation examines how Austria utilized its system of public education to develop loyalty to the multinational Habsburg Monarchy from 1867-1918. It draws from a range of sources, including textbooks, pedagogical journals, curricula, school chronicles, school year-end-reports, school inspection reports, and other records related to school administration to show that Austria developed a strong system of civic education which attempted to build a supranational, Austrian identity among its citizens. Its first chapter provides an overview of the Austrian educational system from the eighteenth century to 1914. It also discusses the development of the history curriculum in these schools and illustrates that it possessed a unique ability to serve as a conduit for civic education. The second chapter examines how textbooks and history classes presented Habsburg rulers in a way that portrayed the dynasty as the embodiment of good governance. It shows that such presentations sought to create an interpretation of the Habsburg past that served future rulers while teaching about Austria's history. This chapter is followed by an analysis of how these textbooks and classes used the Monarchy's history to support a supranational, Austrian identity in which its citizens were bound by common struggle and a shared past. Most importantly, this chapter shows that officials sought to create this identity in a way that supported existing local and national identities. The fourth chapter explores how school celebrations and patriotic events reinforced civic education efforts. It proves that there was a strong collaboration between schools and other agencies to create a consistent message about the Habsburg past which strengthened the supranational identity asserted by Austrian civic education. The final chapter discusses the efforts by the Austrian educational bureaucracy to ensure that teachers remained supporters of civic education efforts. Ultimately, this study shows that Austria possessed a nuanced, assertive system of civic education within its schools. This system of civic education attempted to create a layered identity among Austrians which blended loyalty to the imperial, dynastic state while also allowing for regional, and national identities to remain strong.