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Jewish Culture: Vienna and the Jews at the Fin-de-siècle


Admission requirements

Students should preferably have taken the Introduction to Judaism course and/or Cultural History of the Jews. However, it is possible to attend this course without having taken these courses.


More than anywhere else in fin-de-siècle Europe, Jews in Vienna participated in and produced the high culture of Vienna between the 1860s and the beginning of World War II. They were involved in literature (Schnitzler), the arts (as artist and mecenas), theater, music (Zemlinsky, Mahler, Schoenberg), new professions such as psychiatry (Freud, Spielrein) and the women’s movement. What were the social, political, economic and factors that contributed to their success? In what forms did their Jewish identity manifest itself in the changing climate of the times? A group of scholars from the fields of history, art history and musicology will contribute lectures in this exciting multidisciplinary course.

Course objectives

The Jews of the Hapsburg Empire formed the second largest European Jewish population prior to World War II. The repercussions of modernity for the empire and the new avenues that were opened for its residents – and the Jews in particular – will be dealt with at length. Students will become familiar with the complex workings of politics, society and economics that led to this unique situation. They will make acquaintance a.o. with the art of the Secession, its repudiation by the modern architect Loos, atonal music and the reception of these art forms by the public.


See time table.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and optional Excursion

Assessment method

Students will be required to write a paper on one of the topics touched upon during this course. The paper should be no longer than 12 A4s (font size 12, 1.5 line spacing) and must be submitted by June 30, 2013. The papers will be judged on the basis of BA or MA levels, depending on the program in which the student is enrolled.


The course schedule, names of the lecturers, titles of their lectures and assigned readings will be available on blackboard.

Reading list

Capita selecta from:
Robert Wistrich, The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph (The Littman Library, oxford University Press 1989)
William McCagg, A History of Habsburg Jews 1670-1918 (Indiana University Press 1989)
Steven Beller, Vienna and the Jews. 1867-1938 (Cambridge University Press 1998)
Klaus Hödl, Wiener Juden – jüdische Wiener. Identität, Gedächtnis und Performanz im 19. Jahrhundert (Studien Verlag 2006)
Peter Gay, Freud. A Life for Our Time (Norton 1998)
Brigitte Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna. A Dictator’s Apprenticeship (Oxford University Press 2000/ Tauris Parke 2010)
David Rechter, The Jews of Vienna and the First World War (Littman Library, Oxford University Press 2001)
Daniel Vyleta, Crime, News and Jews: Vienna 1895-1914 (Berghahn Books 2007)
Carl Niekerk, Reading Mahler. German Culture and Jewish Identity in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna (K.M. Knittel 2010)


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof.dr. J.Frishman.


An optional excursion to Vienna will take place at the end of August 2013. The itinerary will include visits to museums (including the recently renovated Jewish museum), city tours and concerts. Minimum number of participants: 10.