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Harvard Summer Program - Vienna: City of Art, Music, and Theater, 11 June - 6 August 2016 Vienna, Austria

Publish Date: Sep 28, 2015

Deadline: Jan 28, 2016

Event Dates: from Jun 11, 2016 12:00 to Aug 06, 2016 12:00

Based primarily in Vienna, this eight-week program comprises two courses: one for those advanced in German language; the other in Viennese cultural history, conducted in English. Together, these courses aim to provide you with a critical overview of the arts from the 19th-century to the present. 

Both courses are directly enriched by visits to the city’s museums, galleries, concert halls, and theaters. By coordinating historical and language coursework with frequent excursions and events, the program provides a unique opportunity for you to participate in the vibrant cultural life of Austria’s capital. In addition, there will be substantial field trips to significant cultural sites in Prague, Berlin, and Leipzig, offering a useful comparison to measure the import of Vienna’s artistic legacy.

Course of study

Advanced German Language and Arts

Lisa Parkes

This course is designed to develop students’ spoken and written language skills at the advanced level. By exploring the city of Vienna and its rich cultural history, students will learn the language of city living, its buildings, art and architecture, literature, theater and music. In doing so, students will broaden and refine their grammar, vocabulary, and idiom; as well as analyze and practice the stylistic and rhetorical features of various written and spoken genres. We will analyze each genre for its content, form, style, register, audience, and purpose, and pay particular attention to the differences in register between spoken and written German. In particular, students will develop their ability to narrate, interpret, analyze, critique, and, more generally, to articulate ideas with precision and conviction.

Students will be guided through writing processes to produce a variety of texts ranging from the personal (impressions of Vienna; describing place and space), practical (formal letter writing), creative (a short story), and informative (a newspaper report) to evaluative and analytical (a response to a painting). The final project involves a critical review of a performance or event in Vienna, Dresden, or Berlin, to be presented in German. Grammar and stylistic exercises will be assigned to enhance written proficiency. Last, but not least, guided explorations of the city of Vienna will ensure immersion in the spoken language, and will be reinforced by in class discussions, oral reports, story-telling, debates, and interviews.

Prerequisite: Four semesters of college-level German or the equivalent

Viennese Cultural History

John Hamilton

For centuries Vienna has rested at the heart of European civilization and arts, thriving on a dynamic and frequently impassioned tension between the social conservatism of the Habsburg Empire and the many cultural revolutions and violent upheavals that ultimately witnessed the Empire’s decline. The city’s classical musical legacy reaches from Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert, to Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg. Literary artists include Grillparzer and Nestroy, Schnitzler and Musil, Bachmann, Handke, Bernhard, and Jelinek, not to mention Freud—all of whom are today firmly installed in the canon of world literature. Visual artists and architects have also contributed strongly to this spectacular heritage, from the Classicism and Romanticism of Fendi, Waldmüller, and von Amerling, to the Vienna Secession and the Jugendstil of Klimt and Kurzweil, to the savage Expressionism of Schieleand Kokoschka and the avant-garde interventions of Hundertwasser, Wotruba, and ArnulfRainer.

This extraordinary legacy has hardly daunted continued innovation. On the contrary, Vienna persists as a vital center for the arts, as an energetic and energizing source for fresh advances in human expression. The broad variety of museums, galleries, concert halls and theaters, together with a vibrant tradition of cabaret, popular theater, and the famed cafés, is a testament to the city’s commitment to fostering culture in all its kaleidoscopic wealth. This course offers a comprehensive examination of the city’s key role in major literary, musical, and artistic movements across the centuries, viewed in relation to broader considerations of Central European history. Lectures are directly enriched by field trips, excursions, and special events. 


John Hamilton, William R. Kenan Professor of German and Comparative Literature 

Lisa Parkes, Senior Preceptor in German 


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A detailed statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and level of German language study, interest, or experience in the arts, as well as travel experience abroad (though previous travel is not a prerequisite)
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)

Program directors may request letters of recommendations and interviews. 

You will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room, breakfast, and some dinners
  • Field trips and excursions

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Vienna, Austria
  • Independent excursions
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


To be announced. 

Additional information

Contact John Hamilton at jhamilt@fas.harvard.edu or Lisa Parkes at lparkes@fas.harvard.edu. 

Students with disabilities

Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.

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