LT 312 - Literary Topographies: Spaces and Places of Vienna in Austrian Literature

Metropolises provide material and inspiration for their poetic production—conversely, literary texts shape our perception of cities. This assumption particularly applies to Vienna. Especially since the “Modern Age,” Vienna has been the subject of a specific literary mythification. It is often thought of as the city of the frivolously morbid, of music, of ‘coffeehouse culture’ (“Kaffeehauskultur”), of psychoanalysis—the town of Peter Altenberg, Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Ödön von Horváth, Ilse Aichinger or, Ingeborg Bachmann. Literary topographies include, among numerous others, the Prater (Elfriede Jelinek) as well as the so-called “Ungargassenland” (Ingeborg Bachmann) or the banks of the Danube (Ödön von Horváth). Texts ranging from Arthur Schnitzler’s Round Dance and Thomas Bernhard’s Heldenplatz to Julia Rabinowich’s Splithead have contributed to making Vienna a place of remembrance of a lost multicultural society, of the often-repressed National Socialist past and of a vibrant contemporary migration and multicultural society with all its boundaries, complications, and opportunities.

Through this course, students will actively engage with Viennese literature. They will study and analyze seminal texts from 1900 to the present and discuss the literary construction of Viennese topographies along central themes such as migration, displacement, trauma, and community. This will allow them to understand the ever-changing city of Vienna. Moreover, the course will foster discussions of textual constructions of identity at the intersection of gender, class, ethnicity, and culture, encouraging students to contribute their unique perspectives. 

This is a literature course; students are primarily asked to engage with primary texts.

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None; prepare to engage in an intense reading & learning experience.

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