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The University of Southampton
HistoryPart of Humanities

Conflating treason and homosexuality: writing a queer history of Colonel Alfred Redl Seminar

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18:00 - 19:00
15 February 2021
Please note, the seminar will take place via Microsoft Teams and attendees will receive an invitation a few days before the seminar will take place.

Event details

The Department of History warmly invites you to the first of its research seminars for 2021. Prof Mark Cornwall will speak to his recent research on the history of treason in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire in a paper about the Colonel Redl affair of 1913. The talk will last approx. 40 minutes, followed by a Q&A session.

Colonel Alfred Redl has often been portrayed as one of the most notorious traitors and spies of the twentieth century. When his treason was exposed in Vienna on the eve of the First World War, the case was not only explosive because of state security, but also as a homosexual scandal at the heart of the Austro-Hungarian establishment. Yet despite or because of this notoriety, the Redl case has always been surrounded by myths, wild speculation, and fabricated evidence. This paper aims to peel back the layers of the mythology, and to deconstruct what we mean by treason and homosexuality in the case of Colonel Redl. It argues on the one hand that Redl was a very unusual traitor amidst a mass of treasons in the late Habsburg empire. On the other hand, the homosexual dimension of the case has never been fully dissected by historians or has been treated very superficially. It was the conflation in the person of Redl of two types of 'deviant outsider' – the traitor and the homosexual – that made the case so sensitive both in 1913 and for later generations of the Austrian establishment.

Speaker information

Professor Mark Cornwall,Professor of Modern European History

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