CUFA ART 302 - Art, Architecture and Urbanism in Prague Within European Context
The main focus of the comprehensive course is the architectural, artistic and urban development of Prague as a typical example of a European city. The City of Prague represents an illustrative model for learning about the significant attributes of European art, architecture and urban history throughout centuries with respect to the European context. The course also incorporates historical background and typical lifestyle in each historical period. The learning about the art, architecture and the town planning is based on the knowledge and understanding of the general philosophical concepts of European or world history, including multicultural dimensions. Prague, whose modern history was influenced by two totalitarian regimes belonging to the cities behind the Iron Curtain until 1989, is also used as an illustrative example of the function of the art and architecture in both dictatorships of the 20th Century.
CUFA POL 315 - Comparative Politics: Transformation of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic
Sharing the same geopolitical position within the East Bloc, the individual cases – i.e. Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and others – differed significantly, however, in their respective points of departure, as well as in political institutional solutions chosen in course of their transitions. This comparative aspect will be studied with a special focus. Students will be also encouraged to challenge the mainstream understanding of “transition” as predictable, gradual and irreversible progress towards the standard “Western” model. The course is designed as a seminar based on a guided discussion about carefully selected texts collected in a reader; active participation of the students is essential.
CUFA CZE 100 - Czech Language for Everyday Use I
The course is designed to teach students the basics of Czech language and at the same time to extend their knowledge of Czech culture and everyday life. The communicative approach and everyday vocabulary are emphasized. Students are supposed to communicate in various situations of everyday life (introducing oneself, asking about direction, shopping, restaurant, daily routine, likes and dislikes). Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, speaking, listening with comprehension, and writing.
CUFA HIST 327 - Czechs in the Age of Extremes
The course serves as an introductory to the modern Czech history. During the so-called age of extremes, there were two major sources of social conflicts in the area of Bohemian Lands – nationalism and dictatorships. Starting with the formation of modern Czech nationalism in the second half of the 19th century, we are going to enter a little bit longer history of the Czech 20th century. Students are going to read most significant and recently published historiographical works and they are going to have an opportunity to consider the crucial reversals of modern Czech history. We are going to debate important themes of modern European history such as nationalism, fascism, and communism but at the same time, we are going to focus on the development of modern Czech society. There are three main topics:
– Formation of Modern Czech and Slovak Nation and State (1918–1938)
– Nazi Occupation and Renewal of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945)
– State Socialism, Czechoslovakia and Modern Society in Flux (1945–1992)
CUFA ECON 310 - Economic Affairs: European Union and Asia
Socio-economic system of a state significantly affects the successfulness of its economy in the global competition. In this course, selected European and Asian socio-economic models will be introduced. The course makes students familiar with the basic characteristics of those models, focusing on the role of the state in European and Asian economies. Roles of the state and market are explained in the relevant historical and cultural context, covering differences in economic policies as well as the institutional environment of selected states in terms of both, formal and informal institutions. The course is based on institutional economics, international political economy, economic history and is designed as introductory/basic.
CUFA PSY 310 - Psycholinguistics
The course aims at introducing the fundamental aspects of psycholinguistic research, discussing the methods used in psycholinguistics and a summary of the knowledge achieved so far in the field. In the second part of the course, the process of language acquisition in children is discussed, together with examples of developmental language disorders such as dyslexia.
CUFA HIST 205 - Shaping Central Europe: The Historical Forces which Defined Central European History
The course will focus on the history of Central Europe through the study of the major phenomena that shaped it. The main themes studied in the course will be the impact of the Habsburg dynasty on the region’s politics and culture, the rise of nationalism in the 19th century and its consequences for post-WWI Central Europe. We will then analyze the impact of World War II on the region, the disappearance of Central Europe as a political and cultural entity under Communist rule and its rebirth at the end of the 20th century. We will also explore the significance for the region of its specific Jewish history. Each theme will be illustrated by a field trip and/or a documentary.
CUFA SOC 300 - Sociology of Food
Eating is a natural necessity for almost all human beings. Food, however, does more than just help humans survive and grow. It can become a political tool, a marker of social class and gender, a mirror of significant cultural differences. On a more individual scale, it can be related to personal identity, habits and health. As our perspective in this course is sociological and semiotical, we shall look at food both as a source of embodied experience, and as a language that can be decoded. It is a symbolic system that reflects the everyday habits of humans, norms of societies, as well as deeper, internalized meanings. Food will thus become a lens through which we will see and analyse our different cultures in a new light. We will ask questions such as: What is the place of origin of our food? How did our food get to us? How does food configure and change relations among people?
During our comparisons and practical workshops, we shall trace the histories of some of the most significant meals of the Czech Republic (and former Austro-Hungarian empire). Their transformations will help us understand the social changes that took place in Central Europe from a different perspective. Questions such as gender relations, families, political economy, health (obesity, anorexia, bio food), ecology and the nation-state will be discussed. We will read academic articles that react on these questions in various national and ethnic contexts.
There will be 3 workshops where students will try to cook several Central European meals and discuss them with a Czech chef.
CUFA F328 - Wave of the Future: Czech and Slovak New Wave Cinema
Bounded by the Germanic Empires to the West, the Russian Empire and Soviet Union to the East, Hungary and the former Ottoman holdings to the South, the Czech, and Slovak lands have long been a site of conflict and creation. This course will explore the incredibly rich cinematic tradition of thought-provoking and entertaining films produced in the areas of the Czech Republic (the primary area of focus), and Slovakia from the years between 1962 and 1972. In addition to watching films, we will also be discussing cinema theory and approaches to “reading” films, not only as movies but also as multi-faceted cultural artifacts. To this end, our readings will contain primary source materials on cinema history, historical research, film theory, and literature intended to broaden our understanding of Czech and Slovak culture, cinematic and otherwise.
While this syllabus gives a fairly accurate portrayal of the material we will cover, additional material may be assigned (and assigned material may be dropped or altered) at any time as the semester progresses, in order to better suit the needs and interests of the class.
CUFA HIST/POL/ART303 - Czech Culture and Civilization: A Field Trip into the Czech Psyche
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.
Students will not be limited to listening to lectures and attending screenings in classrooms, but rather, they should understand that Prague and other locations in the Czech Republic will give them a rare opportunity to study and form their own opinion in public spaces all over the country.
Learning through interactive seminars, visual arts and top-quality documentaries will enable the participants to gain an interesting experience on all levels.
Students will write 2-3 short mini-essays after each of the larger blocks as per the detailed syllabus below, and a final test.
The course is open to students of history, sociology, political science, literature and visual arts as well as to anyone who is interested, eager to learn and has an open mind.
CUFA CZE 102 - Czech Language for Everyday Use II
The course lays stress on the productive skills of speaking. It is to help learners master basic functional grammar and vocabulary by providing a number of both readymade and improvised everyday life conversations. The attention will be also paid to basic information on Czech culture to help students to communicate in a socially appropriate way.
CUFA SOC 357 - Czech Republic: An Urban Perspective – Department
The aim of the course is combine knowledge from the fields of urban sociology, general sociology and urbanism in order to give students detailed insight into Czech urban situation. At the end of the course, they 1) will have a basic introduction to the field of urban sociology; 2) will be to understand how cities work from the sociological perspective and 2) will have information and knowledge about Czech cities that will help them to benefit from their time here in CR. In the second part of the semester 1) a short commented film trip to smaller town nebo Prague is planned; 2) if possible a talk in class given by an urban professional (i.e. planner) and 3) students’ presentation focused on the comparison of the cities of their origin and Prague. The main output is a paper. The paper will be discussed during semestr and gradually presented by the students in a short form of reports on their projects.
CUFA ART 324 - Edges of Photography: Techniques, Artistry, and Czech Photographers
Although photography is a regular art discipline, due to its broad accessibility, it is perceived by many as a mere technical tool to record reality. Such perception is unsubstantiated on so many levels! The technical aspect of photography is only one part of it. The other, and perhaps even more important is the artistic part: Photographic technology can be seen as a tool in the service of a creative human soul. In addition, both these elements also correspond with and reflect a particular historical timeframe, which has an impact on the overall purport of every single image. This is certainly true about documentary photography, in which the seemingly ‘trivial’ photographer’s choices (such as camera exposure settings, framing/cropping, angles, focal length, composition, depth of field, etc.) have an impact on the outcome and perception of the photograph. It’s even more evident in abstract photography, in which reality/real objects are only used as mere creative tools for self-expression, a parable, a metaphor, a visual story.
This course is conceived as a rather passionate invitation to a collective exploration of and adventure in photography as an art form. It combines theoretical aspects of photography, its aesthetic and cognitive value with practical exercises. Several outdoor activities make an integral part of the course in order to improve students’ individual skills in artistic self-expression. Through students’ presentations, the course also offers a brief history of Czech(oslovak) photography.
CUFA POL/LIT 317 - From Thoreau to Havel: Chapters in Czech and American Struggle for Social Justice
The course reacts to current polarization of political life both in the United States and the Czech Republic. It discusses important U.S. and Czech writers, artists, and activists who have believed in the indivisibility of freedom (“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” – Thoreau) and entered in dialogue with the powerful as well as the powerless in face of dogmatism, fear, and indifference. These writers, artists, philosophers and activists have been broadening the notion of democracy and have been keeping the precious “fragile democratic experiment” alive – by fighting for ballot for women and African Americans, by fighting anti-Semitism in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, by fighting injustice and complacency in Socialist Czechoslovakia, by helping children “of the Enemy,” or by confronting ongoing racial injustice in the United States and the Czech Republic. The course will foster dialogue between American and Czech humanistic thinkers, artists, and activists. The course draws inspiration from African American philosopher Cornel West who understands truth “as a way of life” that “allows suffering to speak”.
CUFA LIT/POL 320 - Reading Prague: Literature, Architecture, and Cultural History
The course will survey Prague’s history, focusing on the lives and aspirations of its multinational inhabitants as they metamorphosed in the course of the last twelve centuries.
It proposes to read the city as a text and to treat literature and architecture as both expressions and symptoms of its evolution. Throughout the course, literature and architecture will be explored through a critical reading of the motivations, techniques and achievements which are at play therein.
CUFA HIST 312 - The Formation of Europe and its Nations- Department
The course focuses on the processes and events that have been making the ethnic and political borders of Europe since the arrival of Indo-Europeans until present times. It follows the formations, expansions, and differentiation of the Celtic, Germanic, Romance, Slavic and other peoples, the formation of medieval nations or changes in the political map of Europe in the last centuries. It also explains how and when peoples like Basques, Albanians, Hungarians, Turks appeared in Europe. Due to its comprehensive character, the course is suitable for students interested in history, politics, anthropology and linguistics.