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Sexual Knowledge Feeling, Fact, and Social Reform in Vienna, 1900-1934 by Britta McEwen

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

Part of the Austrian and Habsburg Studies Series
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Sexual Knowledge Feeling, Fact, and Social Reform in Vienna, 1900-1934 by Britta McEwen

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.


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

About the Author

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

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 2015


Britta McEwen

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Berghahn Books


240 pages


Social & cultural history
European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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