In the early 20th century, Austria and her metropolis Vienna were a major hub of artistic and cultural activity in Central Europe, where also a diversity of influential discourses on sexuality, eroticism and gender contended and flourished. This is evident in the portrayal of problematic sexual relationships in early Austrian modernism, e.g. in the literary works of Arthur Schnitzler and Peter Altenberg, Karl Kraus’s Sittlichkeit und Kriminalität or Otto Weininger’s Geschlecht und Charakter, in the popular novel of the time (Josefine Mutzenbacher; Hugo Bettauer), in the beginnings of academic sexology (Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Salomon Krauss, and others), in the activities of Rosa Mayreder and the early women’s movement, in the eroticism of the art works of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Alfred Kubin, or in photography. Early stages of this interest in sexuality as a cultural topic are already noticeable in the second half of the 19th century – for example in the works of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch or Hans Makart – as they were anteceded by the erotic culture of Josephinism in the late 18th century.
After the historical disruptions of 1934-45, however, the themes of sexuality, eroticism, and gender resurface in the literature and culture of the Second Republic: e.g. in the “happenings” of Viennese Aktionismus, the OrgienMysterienTheater of Hermann Nitsch, and the video works of Valie Export, in Austrian film (directors such as Franz Novotny, Kitty Kino, Michael Haneke, or Ulrich Seidl); within Austrian literature e.g. in the eroticism of Heimito von Doderer und Albert Drach, in the feminist discourse from Ingeborg Bachmann to Marlen Haushofer, Elisabeth Reichardt, and Elfriede Jelinek, in the beginnings of an autobiographically based queer writing (e.g. Josef Winkler), in the Fäkaliendramen of Werner Schwab, etc.
The planned conference intends to offer a varied selection and analysis of the discourses of sexuality, eroticism, and gender in Austrian literature and culture, providing a view of cross-currents and interconnecting traditions.
Organizers: the Modern Austrian Literature and Culture Association, the Wirth Institute and the Dept. of MLCS at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.
For a detailed programm, please go to our conference website!
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