Universität Wien FIND

080086 SE Seminar: Symbolism in Central Europe (2021S)

Continuous assessment of course work

gem. mit Mag. Dieter Ulrich (Universität Luzern, CH)


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

All units will be held digitally on the moodle platform!

2 March 2021 9:00–10:30: Introduction by Mag. Ulrich
9 March 2021 9:00–10:30: Continued introduction by Mag. Ulrich, Lecture by aProf. Dr. Pippal
16 March 2021 9:00–10:30: Presentation of the topics, technical requirements for video production
23 March 2021 9:00–10:30: Topic assignment
4 May 2021 9:00–10:30: Midterm meeting for questions and discussions, clarification for technical aspects
6 June 2021: Submission of the film presentation & handouts
12/13 and 26/27 June 2021 from 9:00 each day: Presentation of the film plus discussion/feedback
31 July 2021: Submission of the term paper

Tuesday 02.03. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 09.03. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 16.03. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 23.03. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 04.05. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Saturday 12.06. 09:00 - 14:00 Digital
Sunday 13.06. 09:00 - 14:00 Digital
Saturday 26.06. 09:00 - 14:00 Digital
Sunday 27.06. 09:00 - 14:00 Digital
Tuesday 29.06. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The beginning of modernism in the visual arts is commonly associated with the stylistic changes that took place in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the dawn of modernism also occurred at the same time on the level of content: within the framework of "symbolism". A manifesto had already been formulated in 1886. Around 1900, Symbolism was an internationally dominant movement in all artistic disciplines. Despite this, it disappeared almost completely from the horizon of perception after its decline during the First World War. This is not least due to art historical methodology. For those art historical traditions that focus on the formal aspects of art (including the Viennese School of Art History), Symbolism remained alien.
This obvious lack of perceptual criteria prevented a serious examination of the phenomenon of Symbolism on the part of scholars as well as its reception by subsequent generations of artists. It was precisely this amnesia of knowledge, which could be observed until the 1970s, that led to the fact that it was hardly comprehensible that painters such as Paul Gaugin, Max Klinger and Giovanni Segantini and sculptors such as Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso and Adolf von Hildebrand were united by far more and far more fundamental things than they were separated by.
He is nothing but an eye, but what an eye, as Cézanne said of Claude Monet's painting out of deepest admiration, would elicit at most a shake of the head as a compliment from any of the above-mentioned artists: "Retinal" aspects, a key term of Marcel Duchamp's, were for the first time to be of a secondary nature in their art and serve to intensify content.
While – from the Realists through the Impressionists to the Expressionists – it was above all the typical design features of the pictorial surface that held the respective group together internally and at the same time demarcated it from the outside, the Symbolists undermined the dividing lines between the different schools. Their far-reaching and multi-layered network did not follow any common ideologies. However, the way of looking at things, the common themes and the desire for a new, specifically individually coloured mode of representation characterised by their own, new symbols ("symbolisms") connected their various protagonists intellectually on the philosophical, psychological, ethical and even esoteric level.
It was therefore obvious that this relationship also formed the basis for overcoming barriers between the different disciplines and that this crossing of boundaries was almost felt to be a prerequisite: Thematic and (syn-)aesthetic connections between visual art, architecture, music and literature were readily assessed as far more significant and stimulating than connections within their own guild.
Together with its almost paradoxical tendency towards clarification through encryption, that "grey zone" that creates a link between the undecided and the precise, the movement therefore becomes an important expedition member into the realm of the newly discovered unconscious, the modern soul, and an indirect but usually unmistakable mouthpiece for social criticism of every stripe.
This search for the unmistakably individual as well as a communal-cultural, increasingly nationally experienced identity became a central theme of symbolism. Even if the corresponding questions were asked everywhere and across the board, the answers given in the various countries could not be more different.
Within individual cultural regions, there is an astonishingly consistent choice of themes as well as a way of expression that was decisively shaped by the specific cultural, historical, social and political conditions in each case.
Martina Pippal, Vienna & Dieter Ulrich, Zurich/Lucerne

Assessment and permitted materials

Active participation in the discussion, presentation of 30 minutes video documentary (audio presentation, photos, films, interviews, animations etc.), term paper (approx. 40,000 signs). By registering for this course, you agree that the automated plagiarism-checking software Turnitin will check all written partial performances submitted by you in moodle.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirement:
Frequent participation. In case of absence due to illness or extraordinary family business written proof must be provided.
For a successful completion of the course all partial requirements must be performed.
Term paper: To ensure good scientific practice the course leader can invite the student to a grade-relevant discussion after the term paper has been submitted which must be completed positively.

Assessment criteria:
- active participation in discussions 10 %
- video presentation 35 %
- consolidation in the form of a term paper 55 %

Examination topics

Reading list

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Th 23.03.2023 00:16