The Woman as Writer and Perspective in Austrian Literature after 1945

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Course Information
Women's Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 



Austrian literature over the centuries has been dominated by men – with few notable exceptions such as Hrosvit v. Gandersheim, Marie Frf. v. Ebner-Eschenbach, Paula v. Preradovic, Bertha v. Suttner. After WW II, there is an increase of female women writers not only in numbers, but in importance. Since 1945, female authors in Austria have successfully tried to break free from the limitations women were subject to in earlier times, so successful in fact that they have become leading figures in the shaping and defining of Austrian literature as a whole.

This course tries to explain the phenomenon of women in Austrian literature since 1945. It comprises the full scope of female thought from the ever present ”Vergangenheitsbewältigung” to radical feminist views on society and social interaction in the seventies and eighties, and on to recent novels concerning new problems of the female in a changing society, such as raising children as single mothers, or dealing with migration in Europe. It will also deal with the problem of changing one’s sex, and check whether a male perspective on female life bears validity.

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: 

By the end of the course students will gain:

  • understanding of contemporary Austrian society and its issues
  • understanding of the history of women and the development of female thought from the days of Kinder, Küche, Kirche to the present.
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 movie adaptations of a novel by Elfriede Jelinek 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 choices students make for the presentation, the emphasis of the course can vary.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Regular physical and intellectual attendance, and participation in discussions - 20%
  • One book presentation (see the “optional reading”-list for suggested books) - 20%
  • 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: 


  • Ilse AICHINGER: Mirror Story (short story, 1954).
  • Rose AUSLÄNDER: The Curse II (short story, 1974)
  • Ingeborg BACHMANN: Youth in an Austrian Town (short story, 1961); The Thirtieth Year (short story, 1961); Among Murderers and Madmen (short story, 1961) A Step Towards Gomorrha (short story, 1961); selected poetry and essays.
  • Jeannie EBNER: Frozen Roses (short story, 1979) Lilian FASCHINGER: As A Stranger (short story, 1993)
  • Peter HANDKE: A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (story, 1971, exc)
  • Marlen HAUSHOFER: We are killing Stella (short story, 1958)
  • Elfriede JELINEK: The piano teacher (novel, 1983)
  • Friederike MAYRÖCKER: selected poetry
  • Sabine SCHOLL: Sex - The Other Homeland (short story, 1991)
  • Margit SCHREINER: The Kargeralm Shepherd (short story, 1990)
  • Jutta / Julian SCHUTTING: Butterflies (short story, 1989)


  • Chris WEEDON: Reading Women’s Writing. – In: Chris Weedon (ed): Postwar Women’s Writing in German. Feminist Critical Approaches. Providence and Oxford 1997.
Other Resources: 


  • Michael HANEKE: The Piano teacher (2001; L: Elfriede Jelinek)