Johanna Braun and Elke Krasny: Wandering Writings – Curative Thinking, and Performing with Hysteria

We speculatively, and generatively, propose that artistic research can learn from historically (dis)guised writing practices performed by so-called hysterics. The disruptive potential of hysteria, especially within the performing arts, is well-known and studied by scholars with an interest in feminist, queer, and decolonial epistemologies. The disruptive, but also curative, that is healing, potential is understood in its affective and epistemic, yet less so, in its political dimensions.

Per Freud, his case studies gave rise to the so-called talking cure––which is attributed to Anna O, today identified as the well-known Jewish feminist activist and social work pioneer Bertha Pappenheim; for the writing cure, and its method of free association, credit is given to Freud’s patient Elisabeth von R., identified as Illona Weiss.

But what about the hysterical wanderings, per hystera, the wandering uterus, unlocking not only the talking cure, but also the writing cure? Has patriarchal epistemology normalized, and co-opted, the wandering knowledges of hysteria? This contribution aims to intensify the potential, and performative impacts, of wandering writings in artistic research.

Braun’s and Krasny’s performative writing lecture draws on these historical legacies of free association and epistemic disruption to reformulate them under current conditions of neoliberal knowledge extraction and new forms of knowledge colonization. Wanderings are transgressive. Wandering writings are challenging disciplinary boundaries that have started to re-discipline academic writing in artistic research, in particular in writing, that is fixing, noting down, recording, live events, and ephemeral performance arts. This performative writing lecture will perform live-writing as the two presenters will perform live-writing instead of speaking. A digital setting will invite the listeners/audience to partake in this performative live-writing.


Dr. Johanna Braun, is an artist-researcher, and just concluded her postdoc project “The Hysteric as Conceptual Operator” FWF: [J 4164-G24], which was situated at UCLA, Stanford University, and the University of Vienna (2018–2020). Her academic and artistic research focuses on (new) hysteria, disability, and performance studies. Most recently she published the volumes Performing Hysteria (Leuven UP, 2020) and Hysterical Methodologies in the Arts: Rising in Revolt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021).

Elke Krasny, PhD, is a cultural theorist, educator, and curator. She is a Professor of Arts and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her academic, and political, interests include feminist epistemologies, environmental and social justice, care ethics, social reproduction theory, and remembrance politics in art-making, architecture, and urbanism. Krasny contributed to the volumes Performing Hysteria (Leuven UP, 2020) and Hysterical Methodologies in the Arts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), introducing the term “hysterical studies” to describe radical disruption within the field of hysteria studies.