Austria in Text and Film I: From the Turn of the Century to 1945

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Course Information
Cultural Studies
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
  • Four semesters (5 recommended) of College level German, or proficiency in German acquired in other ways (bilingual family, etc).
Additional student cost: 

€ 10-20 for book purchase.


The "four states of Austria" from 1900 to 1945 will be discussed. How did the transitions from one political system to the other affect the country, her citizens, and her arts? We will try to find answers to the problem of an Austrian identity: Did it exist in all the ethnic divergence of the Habsburg monarchy and the First Republic of Austria, or was it shaped by the historic events of the "First Republic?"

Attendance policy: 

IES Abroad Vienna requires attendance at all class sessions, including field study excursions, internship meetings, scheduled rehearsals, and exams. Attendance will be monitored and unexcused absences will affect the student’s grade via the “Participation” component of each course’s final grade.

Excused Absences

  • Excused absences are permitted only when a student is ill, when class is held on a recognized religious holiday traditionally observed by the particular student, or in the case of a grave incident affecting family members.
  • To be granted an excused absence, the student must write an email to his/her professor in a timely manner stating the reason for the absence (and, if appropriate, how long they expect to be away) with a cc to Center administrative staff. In an emergency, the student may call Student Services or the Front Desk. If the student is unable to send an email (too sick, no computer), he/she may call the Student Assistant at the front desk (01/512 2601-11) who will then write the email described above and send it to said parties as stated above, with a cc to the student.
  • If a student is absent 3 consecutive days or more, he/she will need to obtain a doctor’s note and then submit this to the Registrar’s office.
Learning outcomes: 

Course Objectives

  • Ehance the students’ understanding of Austrian history, politics, society, and culture, through the study of works of mainly authors, but also researchers and others. The chronological curriculum incorporates outstanding and paradigmatic texts by Austrian persons of letters, hence a basic understanding of Austrian literature and culture as well as literature of Austrians in exile will be acquired. Film documents of political events will be shown, as well as excerpts of a movie adaptation of a novel by an Austrian writer.
  • Improved the participants’ German language skills through reading and discussion of all texts in German.
Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures
  • Group discussions
  • Several shorter texts will be read by the entire class and provide the basic structure and chronological frame to the course, one or two movie adaptations of books will be shown and discussed. In addition, each student will be asked to read a novel and present it to the class. Depending on the choice of students, the emphasis of the course can vary.
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Regular physical and intellectual attendance, and participation in discussions - 20%
  • One individual book and one team film presentation - 20%
  • see the “optional reading/viewing”-list for suggested books and films
  • Term paper - 20%
  •  Take-home midterm test - 20%
  • Comprehensive oral final test - 20%

The session-by-session syllabus depends largely on the students’ choice of books for their reports. It is usually handed out in the second week of the semester.

Required readings: 
  • Arthur SCHNITZLER: Leutnant Gustl (1900); Reigen (1900, F) Stefan ZWEIG: Die Welt von gestern (1944; Auszüge)
  • Franz KAFKA: Das Urteil (1912) or Die Verwandlung (1913)
  • Leo PERUTZ: Nachts unter der steinernen Brücke (1924-51; je eine Novelle pro Student) Robert MUSIL: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (1. Buch, 1. Teil: Eine Art Einleitg; 1930)
  • Ödön v. HORVÁTH: Jugend ohne Gott (1937; F)
  • Hermann BROCH: Letzter Ausbruch eines Größenwahnes. Hitlers Abschiedsrede (1944) Non-fiction:
  • Wendelin SCHMIDT-DENGLER: Ohne Nostalgie (2002, exc.)

Additionally, selected poetry (HOFMANNSTHAL, RILKE, TRAKL, etc.), and short stories in the context of coffeehause writing (ALTENBERG, POLGAR, etc.) will be read. Furthermore, one textbook of an opera will be discussed (HOFMANNSTHAL: Arabella, or Der Rosenkavalier or ZWEIG: Die schweigsame Frau, depending on the Vienna State Opera’s calendar), and students will be encouraged to see a performance.


  • Volker SCHLÖNDORFF: Der junge Törleß (1966; L: Robert Musil 1906)
  • Michael KNOF: Jugend ohne Gott (1991; L: Ödön von Horváth 1937)
  • Gerd OSWALD: Schachnovelle (1960; L: Stefan Zweig 1942)