The turn of the 20th century in Vienna saw the explosion of discursive and scientific appropriations of sexual difference based on new scientific paradigms of pathologization and hereditariness. Challenging both social and political exigencies, these new formations came into violent contact with the conservative carceral and criminal demands of the state vis-à-vis sexual deviance. The literature of what is now known as Viennese Modernism consequently became the site in which this social friction was both aesthetically rendered and politically problematized. In zeroing in on the moment of translation, that is the textual instance where these rival forces are negotiated, this intervention seeks to illuminate the peripheral discourses of sexuality, particularly the opening of discursive fields of queerness and sex-work. This lecture intervenes at the site of this entanglement, reading Robert Musil’s Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß and selected essays of Karl Kraus to highlight the increasingly aporetic affiliation between a modern understanding of sexuality based on »scientific knowledge« and a staid political paradigm. In re-excavating Psychopathia Sexualis and other texts arising from University of Vienna’s Department of Psychiatry at the turn of the 20th century under the leadership of Krafft-Ebing, this talk emphasizes the myriad ways in which psychiatric texts and their subsequent public commentary created the social contradictions which the authors of Viennese Modernism took up with unbridled curiosity.

Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer works on literature and visual culture of the early 20th century with a particular focus on illness, psychoanalysis, and queer studies. He was a Fellow at NYU in Paris and held the Mainzer Fellowship for research on the history of sexuality.

In cooperation with Fulbright Austria


Start: 24.06.2024, 18:15
Ende: 24.06.2024, 19:15




ifk Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften | Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien
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Stefanie Obermeir

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