Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Hillel Kieval


Lustmord and Loving the Other: A History of Sexual Murder in Modern Germany and Austria: 1873–1932) examines the historical significance of German–speaking Europeans’ responses to crises of modernity vis–Ã –vis their fin de siècle cultural fascination with crimes and representations of Lustmord. I address the emergence and development of the concept of Lustmord, particularly the changing ways in which medical, legal, and criminal experts, survivors, perpetrators, neighbors, the press, and artists understood and attempted to explain this modern phenomenon. I demonstrate the ways in which a society came to name, understand, and, to some degree, even accept a troubling new phenomenon in the context of rapid industrialization, urbanization, and secularization. The ways in which German–speaking Europeans identified and attempted to come to terms with this extreme form of sexual violence in several major cases in Bochum: 1878–1882), Vienna: 1910–1912), and Berlin: 1921–1922) and through the development of Lustmord as a scientific and criminal concept reveals widespread cultural insecurity and uncertainty about crime and punishment, sexuality, insanity, morality, the metropolis, shifting gender relations, industrialization, and professionalization. The project also places Robert Musil’s understanding of sexual murder and love in his pre–war novella “The Perfecting of a Love” and his post–war Austrian masterpiece The Man without Qualities: which he based on this pre–war Viennese case of a Bavarian sex murderer) in the context of a wider cultural crisis of identity making itself felt in law, psychiatry, criminology, criminalistics: forensics), art, society, and the press before and after World War I.


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