Courses 2020

Introduction to Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Karl VocelkaFebruary 1 - 2


The main goal of this introduction will be to make students, coming from very different cultures, familiar with the background knowledge necessary to follow easier the specific courses (arts, music, literature etc.). A stress will be laid on the explanation of phenomena and terms indispensable for the understanding of European and especially Austrian culture and values.

This class offers a first introduction to the Habsburg Monarchy in the late 19th and beginning 20th centuries regarding territories, economy, population, religious and national problems of the Empire. 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. National tensions within and outside the Habsburg monarchy finally end in the dissolution of this multinational country after the First World War in 1918.

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.

Literature and Film in Vienna around 1900

Wynfrid KrieglederFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


Around 1900 the literary scene in Vienna was highly complex. An especially interesting group of writers was the "Young Vienna"-school, who embraced modern developments like psychoanalysis and dealt with formerly taboo topics like human sexuality. The course will concentrate on these authors.

We will chiefly deal with Arthur Schnitzler, who wrote theater plays and stories. But we will also spend time talking about other writers like Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Karl Kraus – and maybe also about Prague writers like Franz Kafka, if the wish arises. Besides, we will talk about the issues discussed in Vienna around 1900: the ideas of Sigmund Freud, questions of national and sexual identity, antisemitism, the social situation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before and after the First World War.

Participants will have to read and discuss a few literary texts (which will be provided to the participants in an English translation):

  • Arthur Schnitzler: Der Reigen (La Ronde)
  • Arthur Schnitzler: Lieutenant Gustl
  • Arthur Schnitzler Traumnovelle (Dream Story, which was the literary model for an America film, Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut, in 1999)

Besides, we will watch and discuss Eyes Wide Shut and compare it to Schnitzler’s story.


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, reading the required literary texts 30% and a written final (essay-type) 40% of the grade.

Art and Visual Culture at the Turn of the Century

“To the Time its Art. To Art its Freedom.”

Monika Schwärzler-BrodesserFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


The art course of the Winter School will deal with the cultural and intellectual achievements of a number of prominent representatives from the fields of fine art and applied art. It is the aim of the course to provide a multifaceted picture of what happened at the time, when art slowly embarked on the project of Modernism. The course will draw a line from Historicism, the style prevailing in the second half of the 19th century, to Art Nouveau, the style of the young, and will end with an outlook on the Austrian type of Expressionism. All these phenomena and developments will be viewed in the wider context of European art and visual culture.


The following topics will be covered in the course:

  • Historicism: Hans Makart, his impact on the life style and aestetic preferences of the Viennese bourgeoisie; his history paintings, portraiture, and interior design projects.
  • Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and its stylistic features. The Vienna Secession movement; its motto, artistic program, and most important shows.
  • Gustav Klimt: The scandal caused by his university paintings, his iconic images, and their reception.
  • Screening of “Klimt” by Raúl Ruiz (2006). Discussion and analysis of Ruiz´film narrative about Klimt.
  • Female painters of the time: Broncia Koller-Pinell, Olga Wiesinger-Florian; their limited access to art education, their status in a highly patriarchic society.
  • Pictorialism: The aesthetic style prevailing in photography at the turn of the century. Madame d'Ora and her photo studio.
  • The Viennese salons as places of networking and cultural exchange. Famous “influencers” of the time and their promotion of aesthetic trends.
  • Austrian Expressionism: Egon Schiele; his anti-aestheticism as a slap in the face of the Viennese bourgeoisie.
  • Oskar Kokoschka: rebel, assailant of bourgeois values (“Murderer Hope of Women”), as well as emphatic painter of psychic realities.
  • Art Nouveau revival in the 60s. Turn of the century artists as soul mates of the Hippie generation.


Requirements: Attendance and participation (20% of the grade), reading (20%), project (20%) and final exam (40%).

Design and Identity in Vienna around 1900

Elana ShapiraFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


This course will explore the relationship between design and society in Vienna 1900. Our discussions will consider how the design of both the exterior and interior of Vienna’s major buildings relate to the evolution of different styles such as Historicism, Jugendstil, and modernism. It will explore how key protagonists including architects Otto Wagner, Carl König, Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos, and their students developed and fashioned the urban landscape. The course will examine how conservative and progressive trends in society such as the rise of liberal bourgeoisie, German nationalism, socialist political awareness, influential mass media, the positioning of women in the public discourse, and reform education influenced the development modern design.


The following questions will be discussed:

  • What was considered as modern or socially correct or individual?
  • Where did the architects and their clients belong to: Austro-Hungary, Austria, or Western Europe?
  • How was the gender issue addressed in design and did women need differently designed spaces in their clubs and homes?

The study of the cooperation of architects with artists, and the fruitful, reciprocal exchange between fashion and design will help illuminate the critical relationship between modern design and the transformation of social and cultural patterns in Viennese society.


The course will include the following topics:

  • The Ringstrasse and the Heritage of Historicism: the construction of the Ringstrasse as a European cultural project; Historicism as representation of liberal politics and positivist philosophy; the political and cultural institutions on the Ringstrasse; and the high bourgeois and aristocratic patrons of the Ringstrasse;
  • Urban Planning and City Landscape: the organization of the city as a modern capital of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy; the role of public sculptures and gardens in fashioning the city landscape; the development of industrial areas, shopping centers, and the entertainment park Prater.
  • The Wiener Secession and the “Sacred Spring”: Otto Wagner’s railway stations and modernist buildings; the salon of Berta Zuckerkandl and the patrons of the Vienna Secession movement; the cultural network of critic Hermann Bahr and the literary group “Jung Wien” (Young Vienna), architect Joseph Maria Olbrich and the Secession building; the “artist-designer” and the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (Total-Art-Work).
  • Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops): the founders of the Wiener Werkstätte architect Hoffmann, designer Kolo Moser and the textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer; British and French forerunners of design workshops; Hoffmann’s Hohe Warte - villas colony; Hoffmann cooperation with artist Gustav Klimt; Design and modern medicine - Purkersdorf Sanatorium, design and women’s fashion - the “Schwestern Flöge” fashion salon, and design and entertainment - Cabaret Fledermaus.
  • Excursion Rebellion in the Coffee House: the role of the coffee houses in shaping the modern city; mass media and architecture - public debates about design and identity in newspapers: What design is suitable for the middle class? What is modern?
  • Adolf Loos and the English Gentleman: the coffee house circle of poet Peter Altenberg, critic Karl Kraus and architect Adolf Loos; Loos’s writings and works; criticism of the Secession Movement and the relationship between design and men’s fashion; Loos’s Café Museum, Goldman & Salatsch Building, Steiner House, Scheu House, and the American Bar; Loos and his protégée, the Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka.
  • Women in the City: Feminists and their architects – political activist Rosa Mayreder and reform educator Eugenie Schwarzwald and Adolf Loos, artist and salon woman Broncia Koller-Pinell and art collector and patron Sonja Knips and Josef Hoffmann; Women clients and designers of the Wiener Werkstätte. Women architects after WWI
  • Excursion: Building for a Capitalist Society - the Schools of Otto Wagner and Carl König: Wagner’s students Max Fabiani and Jože Plečnik and their buildings, and König’s students Ernst Gotthilf, Oskar Marmorek and Arthur Baron and their buildings.
  • Social in Design pre- and post WWI: Josef Frank and Wiener Wohnkultur (Viennese culture of living); Oskar Strnad and the ideology of empowerment through design; Design in service of Socialist politics - Hubert Gessner’s House for the Workers in Favoriten and Vorwärts House for the socialist party; Social Housing and designing affordable furniture.


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

Music and Musical Culture in Vienna around 1900

Christian GlanzFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


The musical culture in Vienna around 1900 is widely renowned for its exceptional creativity and innovative capacity. The protagonists and the achievements commonly associated with this vital period in music history – e.g. Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg and his „Second Viennese School“ – for a long time also stood at the center of musicological research on 20th century music. In recent years the perspective has been broadened substantially, mainly due to the impact of the intensified work on Viennese modernism in other humanities and in cultural studies. As a consequence, the musical culture in Fin de siècle-Vienna became visible as a more complex phenomenon characterized by radical shifts as well as continuities with the past and by several and important contradictory tendencies. So modernism had to face strong conservative and even reactionist tendencies. One of these main recent issues is represented within the relationship of Viennese musical culture to contemporary developments in Austrian and Viennese politics, especially that of Vienna’s mayor Karl Lueger (1897-1910).


The course will try to address the topic from several vantage points:

  • The institutions, organizations and spaces of musical life, in relation to the diverse strata of the musical public and to the pertinent political and social conditions.
  • The wide array of musical styles and repertoires present at that time, resulting not only from the contemporary compositional activities (which were multi-layered in itself, ranging from “radical modernism” to popular music), but also from the ongoing relevance of earlier music and musical "heritage".
  • The diverse aesthetical positions and general views on music, comprising newly developed scientific approaches as well as metaphysical idealizations and even ideologically conditioned functionalizations.
  • The interrelations between the developments in music and in other intellectual and artistic fields, leading to the question, how music can or has to be integrated into a comprehensive concept of “Viennese Modernism” around 1900.


Requirements: Regular attendance and participation in class discussions constitute 20%, reading (including a written abstract) 30% and a written final exam 50% of the grade.

Society and Psychoanalysis in Sigmund Freud's Vienna

Eveline ListFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


Around 1900, economic and social changes fostered deepening political and cultural conflicts. Emancipatory movements and mass phenomena demanded new approaches. Vienna was culturally highly complex and politically and socially divided. Religion and social conventions ceased to provide sufficient orientation. Mass movements and political demagogues characterized the public space.

Psychoanalysis offered new ways of dealing with actual problems and found its way not only into psychiatry, into art, literature, and music but also into the emerging social sciences and political analysis. This was a radical reaction against traditional views 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 or the profane foundation of religion and the functioning of propaganda – was considered scandalous, but nevertheless gained a wide notoriety and eventually revealed dimensions of human behavior and cultural life commonly denied or concealed.

In this course we want to combine a look at the history of human sciences with an exploration of developments in the fields of society, politics and culture.


The course will cover the following topics:

  • The political and social situation of the late Habsburg Empire
  • Jewish emancipation
  • Labor movement and women’s rights movement
  • Political violence and war
  • Mass psychology and (political) propaganda
  • The scientific background of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and his discoveries:
    • (1900) Interpretation of Dreams
    • (1911) Formulation on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning
    • (1907) Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices
    • (1907) Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming
    • (1915) Thoughts for the Times on War and Death
    • (1921) Mass Psychology and Analysis of the Ego

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.

Politics and Daily Life in Vienna around 1900

Karl VocelkaFebruary 3 - 144 ECTS


This course will try to give the students a survey of the social life in Vienna in the late 19th and beginning 20th century in different strata of society.

The political structure and their changes form an important background for the life of the inhabitants of the monarchs. 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.

Stress will be laid on the social classes in society. The different groups: the dynasty, the old aristocracy and the new one, called second society, the various forms of a bourgeois class, the peasants living on the fringes of Vienna, the exploited workers in the factories and servants in the households as well as the misfits will be analyzed. The course will focus on their influence on or exclusion from politics as well as their life-style (housing, food, drinking, participation in culture, early sports etc.), and talk about their bringing-up, education, behavior, festivities and daily life. The different strata of society lived in different parts of the city, which shows still a socio-topographic structure. Some of these different aspects of daily life can be shown in Vienna today and form the topic of a field trip.

Another matter of social life in Vienna has to do with the multinational and multi-confessional composition of the inhabitants of Vienna. Focusing on the Czechs and the Jews, which formed major groups, their influence on the Viennese identity will be studied. Both groups were not very estimated by the rest of the population in the city around 1900, prejudices against the Czechs and still more radical against the Jews (anti-Semitism) were a daily occurrence. But: what would Viennese specific cuisine – the only one in the world called after a city, not a country! – be without Czech cooks and their dishes? And what would the specific phenomenon of fin-de-siècle culture (the culture around 1900) be without Jewish artists and intellectuals?

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.