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Journeys Into Madness: Mapping Mental Illness in the Austro-Hungarian Empire

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Volume 14

Austrian and Habsburg Studies

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Journeys Into Madness

Mapping Mental Illness in the Austro-Hungarian Empire

Edited by Gemma Blackshaw and Sabine Wieber

222 pages, 23 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-458-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (June 2012)

eISBN 978-0-85745-459-1 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The chapters are of consistently high quality and, when taken together, nicely illuminate what Plumley calls the “rich interdisciplinary seam of madness and artistic modernity”. They unearth interesting linkages between the different disciplines and convincingly show the centrality of madness and “mad spaces” to a wide range of cultural expressions… fascinating interrogation of the borders, boundaries, and spaces of  madness and modernism at the turn of the century.” · German Studies Review

Beyond meeting its own expectations as delineated by its editors, this volume demonstrates extremely well the range of questions that remain to be explored regarding the cultural history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This achievement is an additional reason for its inclusion in advanced undergraduate and graduate seminars. · Austrian History Yearbook

The essays, representing a variety of disciplines and approaches, contribute new ways to look at mental illness in the Austrian context…a valuable collection that provides insight into the way mental illness was understood and functioned at a particular time and place in history, topic that is still relevant for today and the future. · Habsburg – H-Net Reviews


At the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud’s investigation of the mind represented a particular journey into mental illness, but it was not the only exploration of this ‘territory’ in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Sanatoriums were the new tourism destinations, psychiatrists were collecting art works produced by patients and writers were developing innovative literary techniques to convey a character’s interior life. This collection of essays uses the framework of journeys in order to highlight the diverse artistic, cultural and medical responses to a peculiarly Viennese anxiety about the madness of modern times. The travellers of these journeys vary from patients to doctors, artists to writers, architects to composers and royalty to tourists; in engaging with their histories, the contributors reveal the different ways in which madness was experienced and represented in ‘Vienna 1900’.

Gemma Blackshaw is Reader in Art History at Plymouth University. She is currently working on a Leverhulme-funded book on portraiture in Vienna circa 1900. She co-curated the exhibition Madness and Modernity: Art, Architecture and Mental Illness in Vienna 1900 (London and Vienna, 2009–10) and co-edited the exhibition catalogue.

Sabine Wieber is Lecturer in Art History at the University of Glasgow. She has published on German and Austrian design culture, German national identity and constructions of gender in Vienna circa 1900. She co-curated the exhibition Madness and Modernity: Art, Architecture and Mental Illness in Vienna 1900 (Vienna, 2010).

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentCultural Studies (General)Sociology
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


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