Vienna 1900-How Politics Shaped Culture and Created the Modern World

Humanities Seminars Course

Vienna 1900-How Politics Shaped Culture and Created the Modern World

Professor Thomas Kovach Department of German Studies
Past Course
FRIDAYS 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. October 5 - December 14, 2018. No class on November 23.
Dorothy Rubel/Humanities Seminars Room, 1508 E. Helen Street



This course will explore how the political developments at the turn of the twentieth century shaped the culture of Vienna. The failure of liberalism after its brief period in power due to the economic crisis of the 1870s, the rise of anti-Semitic parties, and World War I caused vast cultural upheaval that may be seen in the period’s works of literature, music, art, architecture, philosophy of science, Zionism, and psychoanalysis. We will examine how writers, artists, and other cultural figures dealt with the devastation of World War I and the fall of the Habsburg Empire after centuries of rule. Finally, this course will trace how all of these aspects were prophetic of the worst catastrophes that the twentieth century would bring.


Required Reading: 

1. Schorske, Carl. Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. Vintage, 1980.  ISBN-10: 0394744780. ISBN-13: 978-0394744780.

2. Schnitzler, Arthur. Four Major Plays. Smith and Kraus Pub, 1999. ISBN-10: 1575251809. ISBN-13: 978-1575251806.

3. The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Ed. J.D. McClatchy. Princeton University Press, 2008.  ISBN-10: 0691129096. ISBN-13: 978-0691129099.

4. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Basic Books, 2010. ISBN-10: 0465019773. ISBN-13: 978-0465019779.




THOMAS KOVACH received his BA in German from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 1978. His research has long focused on the Austrian literature of the fin-de-siècle, with two books and several articles on the Viennese writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal.





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