Czech Culture and Civilization II
- Garant předmětu:
- 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 I. 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.
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.
Learning through interactive seminars, visual arts and top-quality films will enable the participants to gain an interesting experience on all levels.
Attendance and active participation 10%
Power point presentation 20%
Graded quizes: 30%
Final test 40%
- Syllabus of lectures:
The happy sixties – the time of political and cultural “thaw” II.
Discussing the importance of culture in Czechoslovakia and its impact on the nation’s moods and moves. Why the 60s were a relatively free time, what were the consequences of “unleashing” creative powers of so many individual artists and what it resulted in. The session will focus critically on the sometimes adored 1960s, showing both its cultural achievements and political limitations.
Screening: Loves of a Blond, M. Forman,1965, a typical film of the Czech New Wave in Cinema
Can Socialism be reformed? On the Czech social Utopia of 1968, Prague Spring (A. Dubček)
Can “socialism with a human face” work? What were the reasons why it did not? We will try to ponder upon certain aspects of this idea.
USSR and Warsaw Pact countries invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968
In August 1968 the Soviet Army invaded the Czechoslovak Republic and stayed until June 1991. The occupation was labeled by the conservative and pro-Soviet wing of the Czechoslovak party as a “temporary” stay, the expression entering the Czech language as a bad joke. This session deals in detail with the local perception of the invasion, based on the contemporary eye-witness accounts and reflections by Czech intellectuals, many of whom reacted to the occupation by leaving the country. Special attention will be paid to the personality of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in 1969 as a protest to the apathy that took over just weeks after the progressive wing with Alexander Dubček lost its position.
Normalization period (1968-1989)
In the history of Czechoslovakia, normalization is a term commonly given to the period following the USSR invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Political purges, expelling reformist communists from the communist party, harassment and persecutions, imprisonment. We will discuss so-called double standard in attitude towards the regime which reinstalled some of the features of the 50s plus added some new ones.
In 1970s and 80s, the majority of the Czechoslovak population succumbed to sheer conformism and the state-supported “consumerism of the impoverished”. The rigid wing of the Communist party took over. Contrary to the 1950s, the regime couldn’t and didn’t expect the internalization of the Communist ideology on the side of the people. To be quiet and passive was enough to be sure to survive.The establishment even supported this hypocrisy by providing cheap entertainment on the TV and elsewhere, people lived their makeshift lives in their second homes over the weekend. Yet there were a few people in the society who did not want to conform. This session deals with both modes of life during the Normalization period.
Screening: Ear, Karel Kachyňa, 1970, the film was banned by the ruling communist regime until 1989 Velvet Revolution
Charter 77 versus Anticharter 77
Samizdat, secret police, informers, oppression and repression
Field-trip: Libri prohibiti samizdat library
Václav Havel (1936-2011) as a specific phenomenon of the Czech cultural-political scene, playwright, dissident, president.
Screening: documentary Power of the Powerless by Cory Tylor, 2009, reading Václav Havel’s famous essay of the same title.
The Velvet Revolution of 1989
The Velvet Revolution was a non-violent transition of power in Czechoslovakia, sparkled by the student march of November 17, 1989, brutally crushed by the police forces. The result was the end of 41 years of one-party rule in the country, and the subsequent dismantling of the command economy and conversion to a parliamentary democratic system.
Post-Communism: The wild East
Transformation, restitution, de-nationalization, coupon-privatization. Utterances such as “the invisible hand of the market”, “what is dirty money?” and other popular slogans in the light of today’s results. Building of the new political systems – presidentialism vs. parliamentarism, political parties.
Democratic backsliding in Central European countries. Interpretation of current political development in so called Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland and Hungary) through such principles as rule of law, accountability,
Screening: Czech Dream (2004) documentary by Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák. It recorded a large-scale hoax perpetrated by the directors on the Czech public, culminating in the open event of a fake hypermarket in the suburbs of Prague. The film was their graduation project for film school.
Capitalism with a human face?
Screening: All for the Good of the World and Nošovice, Vít Klusák(2010)
An original portrait of a Czech village that houses a giant car plant built by South Korea’s Hyundai. Before the village turned into an industrial zone, many of the landowners had no intention of selling their plots of land... Not until many of them faced pressure from their neighbours who had accepted approx. EUR 4000 in compensation and not until they received death threats. Using nine protagonists, the film paints a portrait of a village changed beyond recognition. A humorous yet compelling film about a field that yields cars.
- 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).
Anne Applebaum: Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944–1956, Anchor 2013 (excerpts).
Ladislav Holy: Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation, Cambridge University Press, 1996 (excerpts).
Jonathan Bolton: World of Dissent: Charter 77, Plastic People of the Universe and Czech Art under Communism, Harvard University Press, 2012 (excerpts).
Timothy Garton Ash: The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of 89, Vintage, 1993 (excerpts).
Students will be provided with handouts, additional material, you tube videos etc.
- Further information:
- No time-table has been prepared for this course
- The course is a part of the following study plans: