Egon Schiele in the Clinic: Medicine, Women's Bodies, and the Biopolitics of Viennese Modernism
“Pathological” was a damning term frequently applied to the visual art of Viennese modernism. Yet while the nudes of Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, and others diverged sharply from the classical pictorial tradition, they emerged alongside a contemporaneous trend: the increasing presence of medical imagery in the city’s visual vernacular. In the decades after 1900, the bodies of working-class Viennese—those of women, in particular—came to occupy a central place in literature, film, and exhibitions. A medicalized gaze, this talk argues, was fostered by a complex Viennese social network of physicians, artists, writers, and politicians—all of whom staked their claims on women's bodies to vastly different ends.
Alys George is an Acting Assistant Professor of German Studies at Stanford University. Her research interests center on 19th- through 21st-century German and Austrian literature, cultural history, and visual culture, with a special emphasis on modernism and the postwar period. She works at the intersection of literary studies with such areas as the medical humanities and history of the body, film and photography, modern dance and performance cultures, print culture and periodical studies. Her current research projects explore Central European modernist literatures from a transnational perspective; literature of the Austrian occupation (1945–1955); and the history of women in interwar Vienna.