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Unit information: Die Wiener Moderne in 2016/17

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Unit name Die Wiener Moderne
Unit code GERM20034
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Vilain
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


'Die Wiener Moderne' 'Viennese Modernism' was a literary and cultural phenomenon extending roughly between 1890 and the First World War, encompassing writers such as Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Musil, Altenberg, Bahr and Kraus, and involving links with Symbolism, Impressionism, neo-romanticism and decadence. Philosophically and psychologically it was influenced by Ernst Mach, Otto Weininger and above all Sigmund Freud. Artistically, architecturally and musically it encompassed the Secession, the Wiener Werkstätte, Gustav Klimt, Otto Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg and Berg. Politically it was a period that saw the consequences of the failure of liberalism, the rise of antisemitism and the growing emancipation of women. This unit introduces key elements of all these aspects in an attempt to encourage an understanding of what it meant to be 'modern' in this exciting and dynamic cultural centre.


  • To introduce students to the work of the Wiener Moderne and its cultural and intellectual context with a degree of sophistication appropriate to second year level.
  • To facilitate students' engagement with this body of literature and cultural production in its original language and to develop their use of secondary material in English and German as a basis for their own analysis and development.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level C.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgeable about the cultural, historical and linguistic significance of the work studied;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching details

One two-hour weekly seminars.

Assessment Details

essay 1 50%, essay 2 50%

Reading and References


  • Die Wiener Moderne: Literatur, Kunst und Musik zwischen 1890 und 1910, ed. Gotthart Wunberg & J. J. Braakenburg (Stuttgart: Reclam UB7742, 1981).


  • Carl E. Schorske, Fin de Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York: Random House, 1980).

Additional relevant material will be provided via photocopy or on Blackboard.