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Sexual Knowledge: Feeling, Fact, and Social Reform in Vienna, 1900-1934

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Volume 13

Austrian and Habsburg Studies

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Sexual Knowledge

Feeling, Fact, and Social Reform in Vienna, 1900-1934

Britta McEwen

240 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-337-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (February 2012)

ISBN  978-1-78533-037-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (November 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-338-9 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®


“In [this book] Britta McEwen has produced an interesting and useful work of scholarship that not only deals with a previously neglected topic, but, in so doing, also expands the still under-researched field of interwar Austria.”  ·  American Historical Review

McEwen has based her excellent and lively written book, which covers a broad range of issues related to the shaping of sexual knowledge in Austria, on a close investigation of a wide range of sources. McEwen’s book should become a standard reference for anybody interested in the history of sexuality in the German-speaking world during the first third of the twentieth century.” · German Studies Review

McEwen’s study adds to the burgeoning scholarship on Austrian sexuality that deserves to be integrated into, and has a significant contribution to make to, the interdisciplinary, comparative work done in the fields of sexuality and media studies.”  ·  Austrian History Yearbook

“…this study constitutes a stimulating and extensively researched voyage through the polyphonic discourses concerning the role of sexual knowledge in Viennese society during periods of social upheaval and transformation…Apart from being epistemologically refreshing, McEwen’s focus on the emotional dimension yields a powerful testament to the democratizing impulses of sexual knowledge in interwar Vienna. Compelling and rich, McEwen’s study foregrounds unjustly obscured actors in Austrian cultural history, and in so doing offers an original contribution to European sexuality studies.”  ·  German Quarterly Review

This is a very well-researched and informative book, which will be helpful to researchers and students in the field of Austrian cultural history…conceptually and methodologically sophisticated.”  ·  Steven Beller, author of A Concise History of Austria

“…represents an important addition to the burgeoning literature on how progressive states defined sexuality in scientific terms… It contains a wealth of research and information not yet systematically analyzed [and offers] a valuable contribution to the history of sexuality, which is still neglected in the context of Continental Europe.”  ·  Carolyn Dean, Brown University


Vienna’s unique intellectual, political, and religious traditions had a powerful impact on the transformation of sexual knowledge in the early twentieth century. Whereas turn-of-the-century sexology, as practiced in Vienna as a medical science, sought to classify and heal individuals, during the interwar years, sexual knowledge was employed by a variety of actors to heal the social body: the truncated, diseased, and impoverished population of the newly created Republic of Austria. Based on rich source material, this book charts cultural changes that are hallmarks of the modern era, such as the rise of the companionate marriage, the role of expert advice in intimate matters, and the body as a source of pleasure and anxiety. These changes are evidence of a dramatic shift in attitudes from a form of scientific inquiry largely practiced by medical specialists to a social reform movement led by and intended for a wider audience that included workers, women, and children.

Britta McEwen teaches European History at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

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


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