Inheritance at the Fin de Siècle
This chapter probes the question of what it meant to “inherit” knowledge at the close of the nineteenth century. Adolf Exner had recognized that he was in poor health months before his death. Even as the legal theory of inheritance defined familial relationships and duties, the practices of family life also regulated legal theory. Adolf treated intellectual inheritance as an act that preserved authorship. The mutual shaping of psychological theory and social practice in the Exner family's private efforts to trace continuities from one generation to the next is also observed. Both Sigmund and Emilie Exner doubted that women were intellectually suited for medical study. Emilie's reliance on the concept of the average woman was precarious. In her hands, the Wertheimstein women became representatives of the fate of Vienna's Bildungsbürgertum over the course of the nineteenth century. Images of the Wertheimsteins also haunted Emilie after Franz Exner's death.
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