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Gemma Blackshaw and Sabine Wieber (ed.), Journey into Madness. Mapping Mental Illness in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Berghahn, June 2012

joi, 30 august 2012


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).

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