Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Peter Hoyng

Committee Members

Carolyn Hodges, David Lee


Many years prior to beginning at the graduate level, the author of this work traveled to numerous coffeehouses in many different countries. It was here that he first began to understand the role that coffeehouses played in Europe. The investigation described in the pages that follow has allowed the author, finally, the opportunity to explore what is the Vienna fin-de-siècle coffeehouse's function and role in Austria's national identity.

Chapter One provides and introduction to why the coffeehouse at the end of the nineteenth century is so critical to Austria's contemporary national identity.

Chapter Two provides a historical overview of the Viennese coffeehouse since 1683. This section concentrates on the fin-de-siecle coffeehouse scene. Literary, musical, architectural, and philosophical circles all used the coffeehouse as a central meeting point. The time between 1895 and 1914 experienced extraordinary development in breaking away from traditional thought at the time.

Chapter Three identifies three scholars whose theories show how national identity can be constructed. Benedict Anderson, Bernhard Giesen, and Ruth Wodak et al. provide the framework for this thesis. These three scholars' theories can then be used to define Austria's contemporary national identity.

Chapter Four explores three examples how the fin-de-siècle coffeehouse is portrayed as a myth in not only contemporary Austria, but also internationally. Stefan Zweig’s Die Welt von Gestern, an Austrian Tourism Ministry advertisement, and an American magazine article depict the fin-de-siecle coffeehouse as a national symbol. The use of such a symbol exemplifies the need for Austria to reach into its past to identify itself today.

Chapter Five summarizes the study, identifies its major theses, and offers a conclusion based on the examples given.

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