Courses 2015

Vienna in the Last Decades of the Habsburg Monarchy 1848-1918

History, society and culture.

Karl VocelkaFebruary 2 - 13


This class offers first an introduction to the Habsburg Monarchy in the late 19th and beginning 20th centuries regarding territories, economy and population of the Empire. The list of historical developments starts with the revolution of 1848/49 and the long-term effect of this event and its ideas. The most important modifications of the monarchy like the wars in Italy 1859 and against Prussia in 1866 and the Balkan politics (culminating in the occupation and annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina 1878 and 1908) will be shortly discussed. The crisis in 1914 and the beginning of the First World War – ending in the dissolution of the multinational Habsburg Monarchy – will be analyzed in the framework of the recent controversy in the year 2014 and the Imperial theory.


Internal changes of the political system from a new absolutism following the defeat of the 1848 revolution to a constitutional monarch and the Compromise with Hungary in 1867 - leading to the formation of the Austro-Hungarian double monarchy - constitute the background of internal politics. The course will analyze the role of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty and the myth of the Habsburgs (e.g. Francis Joseph, his wife Elisabeth, their son Rudolf and his mysterious death in Mayerling; Francis Ferdinand and his assassination in Sarajevo 1914). This will lead to an investigation of society in the fin-de-siècle period, focusing on the Habsburg residence and capital Vienna, which – by population growth and migration around 1900 – developed into a multinational metropolis.


Aristocrats and bourgeois society formed a public and a pool of patrons of arts of the period (treated in the other courses of the program). Social problems (industrialization and the terrible status of the lower classes), new political parties and the rise of anti-Semitism are necessary to understand the tensions that influenced the cultural developments. Stress will be laid on the role of women and their beginning emancipation in society.


At the end of the class a short comparison of the cultural achievements in Vienna with other parts of the monarchy – for Bohemia and Moravia in Prague and Brünn (Brno), for Hungary in Budapest, but also in Galicia in Lemberg (Lviv) – and an outlook to the continuation of the cultural phenomena in the succession states, especially in Austria will be given.


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, a short account and reflection about one of the field-trips 30% and a written final (essay-type) 40% of the grade.




Psychoanalysis and Literature in Sigmund Freud's Vienna

Wynfrid Kriegleder/Eveline ListFebruary 2 - 13


Around 1900, Vienna was politically divided and culturally highly complex. In a way it was “psychologized” to a high degree, even in the fields of art, literature and music. This was a radical reaction against a traditional view of the world. Psychoanalysis would combine developments that had been around since the 18th century. The scientific exploration of intimate emotions and of areas that were once taboo, like infantile sexuality, was considered scandalous, but nevertheless gained a wide notoriety. In this course we want to combine a look at the history of sciences with an exploration of developments in the fields of music, art and literature.


The course will cover the following topics:

  • The political and cultural situation of the late Habsburg Empire
  • Jewish emancipation, labor movement and women’s rights movement
  • The precursors of psychoanalysis (Romanticism, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche)
  • The scientific background of psychoanalysis
  • The growing interest in “mental illness” and “unconscious” phenomena.
  • Sigmund Freud and his discoveries.
    • (1900) “Traumdeutung” (Interpretation of Dreams)
    • (1911) Formulation on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning
    • (1914) The Moses of Michelangelo
  • Literary precursors of Freudian Theory (Ferdinand von Saar and others)
  • The role of Otto Weininger within Viennese Modernism
  • Literary texts that parallel Freud’s insights
    • Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Elektra,
    • Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Reitergeschichte,
    • Arthur Schnitzler : Paracelsus,
    • Arthur Schnitzler: Lieutenant Gustl
    • Arthur Schnitzler Traumnovelle (which was the literary model for Stanley Kubrick‘s movie Eyes Wide Shut in 1999)

Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, a short paper and the presentation of the paper 30% and a written final (essay-type) 40% of the grade.