© Jiri Klecka
design: Bubu & Vydra
Current Courses:

HSTEU 490 East European Communism and Everyday Life (5 credits - I&S, VLPA, Diversity)
(Prof. Vera Sokolova)

This class is an intensive introductory course to the contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe with a special emphasis on Czechoslovakia. After familiarizing ourselves with the general background of the region's history in the 20th century, we will proceed to discuss the post-WWII region in depth through the lens of so-called Altagsgeschichte or the history of everyday life. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to the issues of ethnicity, art, consumer culture, gender and sexuality in order to explore the contesting and conflicting narratives of the country’s and region's recent history. By examining the relationships between the state, society and the individual, we will work against the simplistic binaries of "regime" vs. "people" and "East" vs. "West" to see what these reveal about the nature and reality of the Communist regimes. In our readings, films, field trips, guest lectures, discussions and assignments, we will concentrate on the plurality of voices that together produce what we call “history”, on unofficial narratives and representations, which are produced (especially) by various overlooked and/or suppressed individuals and groups in order to explore the issues of collaboration and resistance, complicity and responsibility, legacy and change, memory and forgetting. The goal of the class is to study how these unofficial (as opposed to the officially accepted and promoted) and “everyday” narratives complicate the notions of a national history, collective identity and individual agency. This is also the reason why two of our most important readings are an acclaimed personal memoir of a life spent during the Nazi and Communist rule and an equally appraised novel, also partially based on autobiographical references.
- taught in Spring and Autumn 2018

POLSCI 495 Democracy and Development in Central and Eastern Europe (5 credits - I&S, Diversity) (Prof. Michael Smith)

This course examines the interaction between democratization and the politics of economic development in Central and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of communism, democratic and economic reforms took place simultaneously and rapidly, leading to a host of urgent problems and consequences their designers did not always predict, such as increases in economic inequality, unemployment and an increased sense of insecurity by large segments of post-communist societies. These phenomena have, in turn, provided a base of support for reinvigorated communist parties and nationalist movements, as well as provoked disillusionment with the democratic process. In exploring the complex intersections of recent social, political and economic transformation, we will pay particular attention to the role of civil society and membership in the European Union in shaping the democratic futures of post-communist societies. An integral part of our class are visits of and from important Czech NGOs.
- taught in Spring and Autumn 2018

CHID 390 Collective Memory, Civil Society, and Public Space (5 credits - I&S, VLPA, W, Diversity)
(Prof. Vera Sokolova, Prof. Michael Smith)

This CHID 390 colloquium is a reading and discussion course that will focus on the relationship between collective memory and the constructions of public space. We will explore how memory and commemorative practices of recent traumatic events (concretely the Holocaust, WWII, expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the Stalinist Purge Trials of the 1950s) shape the construction of public space(s) in the countries of Central Europe and how the public space (through monuments and memorials) in turn affects the way people and states selectively remember and forget those events. Central Europe has a vast reservoir of actual physical sites to examine these specific relationships. Given the many sharply contesting historical and ideological (spatial) narratives of the past, which are continuously produced, used and abused in the region, the Prague Program with its four international trips to Vienna, Krakow, Budapest and Berlin is the ideal context in which to examine the questions of memory and space as mutually constructed and interrelated processes. In the classroom, we will look at a variety of texts – theoretical essays, memoirs, popular media, and literary texts that reveal and problematize a range of ways of remembering (and forgetting, for that matter) and its translation into commemorative practices, as well as study the analytical frameworks and questions for interrogating monuments and memorials as “texts”, “arenas” and “performances”. We will complement these readings and their discussions by hands-on explorations of relevant monuments, museums and other cultural and historical sites in Prague but mainly during our trips.
At the same time, the construction of public space is intimately connected to the organization and expression of civil society, the politics of identity, and the democratic or undemocratic movements that they spawn. In many ways CHID 390 integrates the politics of history of Central Europe that you study in the other two courses and intertwines those with the experiential learning of our program trips, as well as visits to civil society and international organizations. As with other CHID 390 courses, we employ three interconnected critical practices: reading, talking, and writing, all of which will work together to create and sustain a learning community in Prague, one in which all of us will gain an enhanced ability to "think out loud" and develop thoughts and ideas through productive and supportive discussions.
- taught in Spring and Autumn 2018