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Vienna: Birthplace of Psychoanalysis, Modernism, and World War I

This seminar will offer an introduction to Viennese culture and history around the time of World War I by focusing on Freud’s work and on his relationship to modern culture, including literature, art and politics. 

GLS 318/ECS 328/EPS 338

Vienna: Birthplace of Psychoanalysis, Modernism and World War I

The Fish Benoist Family Global Seminar

Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria
June 6 – July 15, 2022

Rubén Gallo, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., Professor in Language, Literature and Civilization of Spain

John Benjamin *11, assistant professor of German, U.S. Military Academy at West Point (German language)

This course fulfills the Literature and Arts (LA) general education requirement, as well as a course for the certificates in contemporary European politics and society and in European cultural studies. 

Before 1918, Austria-Hungary was a world power that spread from the Mediterranean to Ukraine, and Vienna was one of the world’s capitals of art, culture and intellectual life. Most remarkably, Vienna is the birthplace of psychoanalysis and the urban space where Sigmund Freud lived and worked. By the end of World War I, Austria-Hungary had imploded and the country was dismembered: the new Austrian Republic was a tiny fraction of the former Empire and it had to reinvent its identity as a small, landlocked nation. Economic and political crises during the 1920s and 1930s paved the way for what Freud called “the end of Austria”— the Anschluß, or annexation, by Nazi Germany in 1938, when the country became the German province of Ostmark, until the allies liberated it in 1945. 

This seminar will offer an introduction to Viennese culture and history around the time of World War I by focusing on Freud’s work and on his relationship to modern culture, including literature, art and politics. Meetings will take place at the Freud Museum, in the very apartment where Freud lived and worked for over thirty years, as well as in museums and archives connected to twentieth-century Austrian history. 

Students will explore the cultural history of psychoanalysis and its relation to Austrian history, and the seminar will feature weekly guest speakers who will lecture on topics such as the history of communism in Vienna, the place of psychoanalysis in today’s world, and the transformation of Austria from a world power into a small landlocked nation that often has thought of itself as a new Switzerland — a neutral country and a buffer between East and West. 

In addition to the seminar meetings, students will be required to attend a German language course that will complement the content of the seminar with conversational tools and an introduction to German-Austrian culture. 

An important component of the seminar will be the study of — and engagement with — the city of Vienna. Students will have the opportunity to visit museums, attend performances at the Opera, the Philharmonic, and the Theater, as well as other cultural sites. 

PIIRS Global Seminars are made possible in part by the generous contributions of alumni and friends and ongoing efforts by University Advancement.

The Global Seminars will take place in-person and in-country in summer 2022, however, in-country seminars will be contingent on a number of factors including University travel guidelines, government travel restrictions and public health advice. Please direct questions to Yolanda Sullivan, program manager.