Paul M. Horntrich



I work as university assistant at the Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna. I have studied History, German Studies, Philosophy, and Linguistics at the University of Vienna and the University of Southampton, UK. After completion of my studies I have been working as a teacher (for History and German) in the federal service for some time before returning to the University to pursue my PhD studies. 

Research interests: My research interest lies in the history of sexuality with a focus on the German-speaking area from the late 19th to the late 20th century. At the moment, my research focuses on two topics. The first focus is the history of pornography in Austria during the long sexual revolution (see project description below). I am interested in how the notion of pornography was shaped by political, media, and legal discourses and how this understanding developed over time. This research project is grounded in the history of sexuality as well as in the emerging field of porn studies. My second focus lies on Catholic sexual discourses. Here I am especially interested in how Catholicism tried to come to terms with the increasing scientification and politicization of sexuality since the late 19th century.

Current research project: Pornography in Austria: Political debates and media discussions during the long sexual revolution, 1950s to early 1980s (working title) 
The period from the 1950s to the 1980s saw an increasing sexualization of the media landscape in many Western countries. Pornographic media spread rapidly and found its way into everyday culture. The contemporaries labelled this phenomenon as “porno boom”. Many countries legalized pornography in this context. Pioneering in this regard were the Scandinavian countries, while other countries slowly followed suit, legalizing pornography or reforming their paragraphs. Austria found a less liberal approach towards the topic, a partial decriminalization of pornography only took place as late as 1977. The corresponding pornography law is still on the books, rendering Austria a rare exception within Europe. The “porno boom” was accompanied by controversial debates in politics and the media in which various political and ideological groups expressed their views on the topic. Interestingly, there has not been much historical scholarship on pornography’s role during the sexual revolution so far. Especially the Austrian situation is a research desideratum. The goal of the project is to investigate political debates and media discussions on pornography during the long sexual revolution. Since legal practices played an important role in negotiating what constitutes pornography, additionally criminal case files are analyzed to gain a better understanding of this process that was influenced by the broader societal debate. Using methods of critical discourse analysis, the project studies various archive materials, protocols of the national council of the Austrian parliament, articles in newspapers and magazines, publications from interest groups, and selected criminal case files. The goal is to explore the discursive construction of pornography in politics, media, and the courtroom. This approach allows reconstructing the contemporary understanding of pornography and its historical change. The study will thus contribute to the international historiography of sexuality after 1945 and will help to strengthen the understanding of the sexual revolution in Austria.


  • Obscenity, film regulation, and moral reconstruction: Willi Forst’s “The Sinner” as pornographic film scandal in 1950s Austria. In: Mario Keller, Johann Kirchknopf, Oliver Kühschelm, Karin Moser and Stefan Ossmann (Hg.): Sexuality and Consumption – 18th Century to 21st Century [Working title]. Boston/Berlin, planned for 2021.
  • Die Entkriminalisierung von Pornographie in Österreich, in: History|Sexuality|Law, 24/09/2020,
  • Science, Sin, and Sexuality in Roman-Catholic Discourses in the German-Speaking Area, 1870s to 1930s. Sexuality & Culture 24, 2137–2160 (2020).