Society and Psychoanalysis in Sigmund Freud's Vienna

Eveline ListFebruary 7 - 184 ECTS


This course is dedicated to Sigmund Freud and the influence of psychoanalysis on Vienna’s modernist culture, with especial emphasis on creativity, literature, and politics.

Vienna’s socio-cultural environment during the late 19th century defined the formative years of Sigmund Freud and the political and scientific background fostering his groundbreaking discovery of the unconscious and the development of the new science of Psychoanalysis. Freud’s dynamic model of the mind shall be explained as well as some of the basic concepts of psychoanalysis. They were expanded as a therapy as well as a social science during the following decades and became especially influential in artistic and literary circles, but also concerning the policies of Red Vienna shaping institutions of social welfare and education following psychoanalytic insights into developmental and social psychology.

At the end of this course, students shall be familiar with Sigmund Freud’s model of mental functioning and with basic psychoanalytic concepts and terminology. Through reading and discussing examples of Sigmund Freud’s writing, they shall have acquired an understanding of the dynamics of creative acts and mental processes concerning the appreciation of literature and art and of the cultural determinants of human perception. Students will also have a better understanding of the social and political dynamics of the period, of the groundbreaking social achievements of Red Vienna and of psychoanalytic thinking as a means to better understand such complex phenomena.


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, small group discussion of reading-assignments and the presentations 30%, and a written final exam 40% of the grade.