Courses 2022

Introduction to Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (Online Course)

Karl VocelkaFebruary 5-6


The main goal of this introduction will be to make students, coming from very different cultures, familiar with the background knowledge necessary to follow 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.

The introduction is intended to convey general historical and cultural principles that apply to all courses.

The following topics will be covered:

  • Social structure
  • Religions: Christianity and Judaism
  • Art styles basics
  • Political development of the Habsburg monarchy: economy, industrialization, foreign and domestic policy, parties, and multi-ethnic state
  • Vienna around 1900: population development, minorities, anti-Semitism, and female emancipation


Requirements: The course is a prerequisite for participation in the overall program, the hours count for the contact hours and the ECTS credits. At the end of the introduction participants are required to submit a written summary of one of the topics covered.

The course will not be graded, but submission of the written summary is a requirement to attend the following courses.

Arts and Society in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (Online Course)


Elana ShapiraFebruary 7 - 184 ECTS


This course will explore the significant role of the arts in shaping Viennese society around 1900. This interdisciplinary course examines well-known works in the visual arts by: architects Otto Wagner, Carl König, Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos and their students; designers Koloman Moser and Vally Wieselthier; artists Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka; photographers Madame d’Ora and Moritz Nähr; literary figures Hermann Bahr and Peter Altenberg; and in performing arts collaborations between figures such as dancer Grete Wiesenthal and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The course aims to show how collaboration within the arts helped shape modern identities and how Viennese design transformed itself over time in response to-, in opposition to, or further contributing to the political happening. Furthermore, it will require students to examine how cultural stereotypes were challenged or reinforced and how this shaped progressive perspectives regarding social integration and gender roles in the city.


The course will include the following topics:

  • The Ringstrasse and the Heritage of Historicism: the construction of the Ringstrasse as a European cultural project representing liberalism and Positivist philosophy; the architects of the Ringstrasse: the museums, theaters and concert halls; the new patrons of art and science;
  • The Wiener Secession and the “Sacred Spring”: Architect Otto Wagner’s constructions and underground stations and his modernist buildings; author and critic Hermann Bahr and the literary group “Jung Wien” (Young Vienna); art critic Berta Zuckerkandl and her salon; architect Joseph Maria Olbrich and the clients of the Secession; the Secession House and the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (Total-Art-Work).
  • Architect Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop): Early modernist architecture and design by Hoffmann; the textile industrialist and art patron, Fritz Waerndorfer; the architect Hoffmann’s cooperation with the artist Gustav Klimt; design and fashion: the Wiener Werkstätte and the fashion salon of the “Flöge Sisters”.
  • Architect Adolf Loos and the Coffee House Circle: Loos’s coffee house circle with poet Peter Altenberg, composer Arnold Schönberg and author and editor Karl Kraus; Loos’s cultural criticism; design and men’s fashion; Loos’s works: Café Museum, American Bar, Goldman & Salatsch Building, Steiner House, and Scheu House; Loos and his protégée, the Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka.
  • The Role of Art in Modern Theater: Cabaret Fledermaus and the artist and playwriter Kokoschka and the dancer Grete Wiesenthal; Kokoschka's dramas at the Kunstschau (Art Show) 1909.
  • Photography and Art: Madame D’Ora and Moritz Nähr fashioning Viennese celebrities; Fashioning modern women: women photographers of dance and fashion
  • Women Artists and Architects: Artists Elena Luksch-Makowsky and Broncia Koller-Pinell and designers Fanny Harlfinger-Zakucka and Vally Wieselthier; architects Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Ella Briggs, and Liane Zimbler.
  • Design and Utopia - Shaping a Better Society: Schools of Otto Wagner and Carl König; Ernst von Gotthilf’s Home for Homeless Families in Brigittenau and Hubert Gessner’s House for the Workers in Favoriten; Josef Frank and Wiener Wohnkultur (Viennese Home Culture); Social housing and social work in the interwar period.
  • Design and Transformation: Can design and art effect social change? architects and artists in the service of political rulers and parties in Vienna from 1900 to 1938.


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, small group discussion based on reading-assignments and the presentations 20%, and a written final paper 50% of the grade.

Music and Musical Culture in Vienna around 1900 (Online Course)


Markus GrasslFebruary 7 - 184 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, however, 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 complex phenomenon characterized by radical shifts as well as continuities with the past and even by contradictory tendencies.


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.
  • 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.

Psychoanalysis and Literature in Sigmund Freud's Vienna (Online Course)


Eveline List/Johann LughoferFebruary 7 - 184 ECTS


This course is dedicated to Sigmund Freud and his role in and influence on Vienna’s modernist culture, with special emphasis on contemporary literature, which parallels his findings in the artistic field. Therefore you will read some of the most important texts of the literary Young Vienna movement.

The course is divided into two parts.

During the first week, Eveline List shall introduce the socio-cultural environment defining the second half of the 19th century in Vienna. These were 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, as they were developed over the course of the following decades until Sigmund Freud’s last minute-escape to London in 1938. Although psychoanalysis is mostly considered a psychotherapeutic method, it is a social science dealing with all manifestations of human motives and behavior. From very early on it has been met with special interest in artistic and literary circles, but also by politicians of Red Vienna (1918-1933), who shaped their policies and institutions of social welfare and education, following psychoanalytic insights into developmental and social psychology.

In this part of the course, the emphasis shall be on psychoanalytic theories of creativity, on literary and other artistic interpretation, and on the consumption of and pleasure in literature, drama, music, and art.

During the second week, Johann Lughofer will offer an overview of the most important Viennese literature around 1900, which marked an aesthetic revolution and the beginning of modernism. You will examine its interdependence with other artistic, social and scientific developments. The focus will pertain to references to Freud's insights. You will study texts, which parallel Freud’s findings in terms of both form and content. Together you will read key texts by Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, two central authors who also reflect contemporary Austrian society and culture in an exciting way. A short paper is requested for each of these texts and a joint discussion will be based on these papers. Students will develop a deeper understanding not only of Austrian literature, but also of its culture as a whole, which is still partly based on the achievements of this era.


Requirements and grading: Active participation, either live during the online course in class discussion or via comments and questions submitted to the instructors, constitute 10% of the grade, one written paper in the form of an essays about the content of the first week (minimum 4000-5000 characters) will constitute 45% of the grade, and three short written papers about the content of the second week (minimum 1,500 characters each) will constitute 15% of the grade each.

Careful reading of the assigned course materials and timely hand in of assignments is expected.

Society, Politics and Daily Life in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (Online Course)


Karl VocelkaFebruary 7 - 184 ECTS


The course covers the period from the 1860s to 1918 in the capital of the Habsburg Monarchy Vienna and deals also partly with the interwar period.

In the first part, the social system (dynasty, nobility, ennobled bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie, workers and outsiders) is discussed intensively. Education and social behavior of each social group are discussed.

In the second part, the politics of the city of Vienna during this period is analyzed (city expansion and improvement of the infrastructure, the administration of the city, the parties and their programs, etc.).

The third part centers on education, medical care and its progress, the emancipation of minorities and especially women.

The fourth part examines some exemplary aspects of everyday life in its social differentiation, topics such as living, dressing, eating and drinking, as well as amusement and participation in social events and sports will be the focus.


Requirements and grading: There will be three small written assignments (essays with a minimum of 1,500 characters), two during the first week and one during the second week, based on questions on the topics covered in class and the readings.
A final paper on a topic of the student's choice (in consultation with the lecturer) in the form of an essay (minimum 6,000 characters) has to be submitted.

The grading is based on participation, during class or via email (20%), the three assignments (30%) and the final paper (50%).