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Czech Culture and Civilization I

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Code Completion Credits Range Language
U04E0301 KZ 3 0P+2C English
Garant předmětu:
Vladimíra Dvořáková
Ivana Doležalová, Vladimíra Dvořáková
Ivana Doležalová, Vladimíra Dvořáková
Institute of Language Studies

This interdisciplinary course is designed as a unique insight into Czech/Slovak history, politics and arts, and should provide the students with serious data and information as well as with a “lighter” reflection on certain specifics of the country's development in the heart of Europe. It will also focus on some interesting aspects of the Czech Psyche. It is a 2 semester course, students can take CCC part 1. or CCC part II. separately, or both in succession which is highly recommended.

Students will not be limited to listening to lectures and attending screenings in classrooms, but rather they will be encouraged to explore some of the public spaces of their own thus understanding much more of the Czech psyche. They will be deliberately guided on their own tours which will be provided by the lecturer.

Learning through interactive seminars, visual arts and top-quality films will enable the participants to gain an interesting experience on all levels.

The sessions will last 2 hrs. (90 minutes) and will consist of 14 sessions.


Students must attend and actively participate in the sessions, prepare power point presentations and write a final test. After each 3 sessions there will be a short quiz summarizing the learned facts and each student will have an opportunity to prepare a power point presentation covering the discussed topic. Final test will check the overall knowledge and will consist of multiple choice and a short essay.

All students with an eagerness to learn new things and having an open mind are welcome.

Syllabus of lectures:

Session 1

Introductory session

Introduction to the class and discussion of some typical, often stereotypical features ascribed to the Czechs.

Reading “The Buchta Theory and The Peřina Syndrome“ by a world-renowned American quitarist who looks at his long experience with Czechs and their culture.

Session 2:

Tradition of the Czech Stateness I

Session 3:

Tradition of the Czech Stateness II

Both sessions summarize the most important chapters of older Czech history and formation of the Czech state. It focuses on those crucial moments of the Czech past that are still part of the contemporary Czech consciousness and built the foundation for the construction of the modern Czech identity. It covers the period since the first Slavic tribes came to the Czech lands, formation of the first states on its territory and their metamorphoses, religious (Hussite movement) and national movements (National Revival). The students get acquainted not only with the basic facts, but also with national myths, symbols and ambiguous interpretation of some historical events.

Session 4

Foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918

This session starts by introducing the idea of the Czechoslovak project and its founding figures, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš. It analyzes both the great expectations and serious threats that were inherent in the Czechoslovak idea from the very outset.

Session 5

The Munich betrayal (1938) German occupation (1939–1945)

Screening: Screening of an experimental film The Distant Journey by Alfred Radok (1949), a unique combination of documentary and feature film.

Session 6

German occupation (1939–1945)

We will try to understand the triggers behind the disintegration of the Czechoslovak Republic and the historical moves leading toward the Munich Agreement and the final occupation of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia by the Nazi Germany. The creation of the fascist Slovak State will be covered as well.

Session 7

The victory of Communism (1948) and the 1950s, part 1

Historical and political reasons behind the Communist takeover in 1948 covering also confiscation and nationalization of the property.

Session 8

Victory of Communism part II.

Collectivization, censorship, “show-trials”, executions of “enemies of the state”

We will analyze the social and moral consequences of the most brutal initial steps taken by the Communists: confiscating the private companies, depriving the farmers of their land, introducing the complete nation-wide control over the distribution of information and instilling the atmosphere of fear by the means of show-trials.

Session 9

Screening: Hitler, Stalin and I (2001), an interesting oral history documentary by Helena Treštíková which covers the crucial periods of Czechoslovak history as experienced by a Prague Jewish intellectual Heda Margolius-Kovaly.

Session 10

The happy sixties – the time of political and cultural “thaw”

Reasons behind the change in the political atmosphere in the 60s, Kafka conference (1963) Writer’s Congress (1967), Prague Spring 1968 – “socialism with a human face”

Session 11

Czech new Wave in Cinema “films with a human face”?

Screening: Daisies (1966), an experimental film by a famous Czech film documentarist and feature film director Věra Chytilová, ‘persona grata’ of Czechoslovak cinematography.

Session 12

Famous Czechs : Miloš Forman(1953-2017), film director who left the country after the 1968 USSR and the Warsaw pact invasion for the US, Oscar winner, Milan Kundera(1929-)internationally known writer and essayist, also living ever since the occupation in France

Session 13

Overview of the previous sessions- question and answer

Preparation for the final test, a wrap- up

Session 14

Final session, final test

Syllabus of tutorials:
Study Objective:

The students should learn not only about history, visual arts, literature and other aspects of Czech/Central European culture and civilization, but also about the most important aspects of the formation of Czech/Slovak/European identity and integrity.

Study materials:

Petr Čornej, Jiří Pokorný: A Brief History of the Czech lands (any edition).

Ladislav Holy: Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation, Cambridge University Press, 1996

Students will be given additional material for each session, texts, short films, you tube videos

Time-table for winter semester 2022/2023:
Doležalová I.
(parallel nr.101)
Time-table for summer semester 2022/2023:
Time-table is not available yet
The course is a part of the following study plans:
Data valid to 2023-05-31
Aktualizace výše uvedených informací naleznete na adrese https://bilakniha.cvut.cz/en/predmet6885806.html