Study Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic

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Study Abroad in Prague: Courses

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Course descriptions

Below are details of the courses offered in Summer 2020. Some new courses will be offered in 2021, and this page will be updated. Recommended credits are shown in parentheses, and courses that state "Department" are shared with Czech students.

| Survival Czech—Included for all students

In order to better prepare students for their stay in Prague, all students will participate in a two-day Survival Czech course taught by a Charles University professor. This eight-hour course with small class sizes (fewer than 13 students) equips students with the necessary language skills in order to “survive” in Prague. Students will not only learn the basics, but also go on a field trip with the professor to learn more about the city. A textbook is included.

Session C Only

CZE 102 (3)  | Czech Language for Every Day Use - Level 1 

This introductory course (50 teaching hours) for beginners is designed to equip students with the necessary Czech language skills in order to communicate in everyday situations. Students will learn basic Czech grammar, vocabulary, and common conversational phrases. The communicative approach and everyday vocabulary are emphasized. Students are supposed to communicate in various situations of everyday life (introducing oneself, asking for directions, when shopping or eating in restaurants, talking about family). Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, speaking, listening with comprehension, and writing. Students will also become familiar with Czech cultural norms and practices (e.g. greetings, politeness, eating habits). The course includes lectures, in-class activities, and local field trips.

Field Trips: Activities and field trips comprise approximately 10 hours of the total course.. Field trips may include, but are not limited to, the following: film screening, museum/gallery visit, trip to the grocery store, café, or visiting a historical site.

ART 323 (3) | Alternative Culture

Provides critical insights into counter-culture, graffiti, street-art, underground, punk, hip-hop, political art collectives, etc. Perspectives of anthropology and culture studies are explored. Seminal readings on subcultures, protest and new social movements are used to discuss the practices of ‘alternative’ urban lives in postindustrial society and certain trends of artistic production. Focus is on political interpretation of youth subversion and disclosures of power mechanisms. Visuals and field trips to graffiti and other subcultural sites are a part of this course.

CZE 202 (3) | Czech Language for Everyday Use - Level II

The course continues Czech Language for Everyday Use I and aims at extending students’ knowledge of the Czech grammatical system (most of the cases and tenses are introduced) as well as their ability to communicate in various situations and discuss various topics (shopping, travelling, cultural events, weather, etc.). The knowledge of grammar should go hand in hand with ability to understand, speak and write Czech.

FILM 302 (3) | Red Planets: Science Fiction in the Central and Eastern European Cinema and Literature

Science Fiction has long been a place for visionary thinkers and cultural critics to explore the possibilities of human society, as well as discuss its failings and problems. This course will focus on how Central and Eastern European authors and filmmakers saw the science fiction genre as a space for exploration, critique, and as one of the last refuges of imagination during times of crisis. Throughout the semester, we will be watching films and reading plays, novels, and critical texts which have left lasting impacts on both the science fiction genre, and the world around us.

HIST 205 (3) | Shaping Central Europe

This course focuses on the history of Central Europe through the study of the major phenomena that shaped it. The main themes considered in the course are 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. The impact of WWII on the region is analyzed as well as the disappearance of Central Europe as a political and cultural entity under Communist rule and its rebirth at the end of the 20th century. Jewish history and its significance for the region are also explored. Each theme is illustrated by a field trip and/or a documentary.

HIST/POL/ART 303 (3) | 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. The course is divided into thirteen weekly sessions, 180 minutes each. Students will write four 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.

LIT 304 (3) | Interpretation of European Fairytales

Fairy tales are a significant part of culture which has been attracting attention of various fields of knowledge. Through their variety, diversity and colourfulness you can observe diversity and colourfulness of the world whereas their specifities and peculiarities show distinction and specific nature of particular countries, peoples and cultures. This course first seeks to introduce the area of European fairy tales as a genre within its broader historical, geographical, and cultural context, in relation to other European folk genres as myth or legends, with focus on Czech fairy tales and their specifics. The main goal of the course is to show fairy tales as symbolic narratives bringing a lot of information about the world around us as well as about ourselves. There are various theories searching for the disguised symbolical meanings of European fairy tales and the significance which they contain and refer to. While folklorists have been trying to organize and classify fairy tales, psychologists, literary critics and other scholars have been trying to interpret them: to find out which messages, recommendations or other information they bring – about society, its rules, customs or beliefs but also about human wishes, desires or visions. The course will describe and survey the changes in the approach to European fairy tales within the development of scholarship about them. It presents sociohistorical, psychological or anthropological interpretations, as well as biologically based and gender or feminist methods of their interpretation. It touches upon the topics like ethical or moral principles in fairy tales, gender and social roles, or historical and political influences to fairy-tale adaptation.

LIT/POL 320 (3) | Reading Prague: Literature, Architecture and Cultural History

The course will survey Prague’s history through the lenses of Czech literature selecting Prague as its locus, focusing on the lives and aspirations of the city’s?multinational inhabitants as they metamorphosed in the course of the last twelve centuries. The course 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.

The aim of this course is to introduce the students to selected works of modern Czech?fiction within the frame of Czech history and architecture of the city of Prague.

POL 315 (3) | Comparative Politics: Transformation of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic

More than ever before, Europe is standing at the crossroads. Multiple crises in the EU and beyond (financial crisis, refugee crisis, Russia-Ukraine geopolitical crisis, Brexit crisis) have had vast impact on Central Europe which is a “natural mirror” of the above-mentioned European crossroads, reflecting both West-East and North-South structural divisions. The transformation of Czechoslovakia (and later of the Czech Republic) from a communist satellite state into a European Union member state is an exciting story, but it is also an intellectual challenge. It encompassed a profound change of political, social, cultural and economic structures while at the same time meant a radical change in people’s lives. Without understanding some deeper historical conditions of this transformation this intellectual challenge cannot probably be met. The course will start with a short introduction to Czech pre-communist politics and regimes. Then a survey of communist rule follows, concentrating on the role of the party, propaganda and political life, looking also at the daily life under communism. Next two radical political changes will be discussed: The Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the “Velvet Divorce” of 1992-1993; these will be taken as models of change with much larger implications for the whole Central and Eastern Europe. The focus will be on the discussion of key political institutions and parties in comparative perspective.

SOC 345 (3) | Contemporary Czech culture, art, and literature: Urban Semiotics

The course will acquaint students with contemporary Czech society and art, their “roots” and transformations from three different perspectives. First, the course will pursue how Czech art and music are connected with activism, minority groups and mainstream culture. Second, focus will be placed on how to “read” contemporary urban performances, literature and music from a sociological and semiotic perspective (i.e. art as social life). We will ask: How and why do performances address and fascinate their readers? What value-hierarchies and culture-changing signs do they produce? Third, the course will familiarize students with the notions of performance art, digital media, counterculture, mass culture, and show their impact on Czech individuals and society.

The course will elucidate the transitions in Czech art scene after 1989, together with their socio-historical context. It will explore different understandings of post-communist movements as represented in the performances and works by Czech artists and thinkers. Czech perspectives will be confronted with Western social and literary criticism.

SOC 354 (3) | Social Change in Czech Republic

The aim of the course is to overview social change in the Czech Republic. After a short introduction to the historical and social development (1918-1989) and basic comparison to other CEE countries, the course focuses on basic perspectives on social change (“shock therapy vs. gradualism”) and then deals with the changes in economic and social structure and political attitudes in general. To provide a deeper insight into the development, the transformation of housing and higher education system is presented in detail. The seminars consist of discussing short texts or relevant topics (covered in lectures), watching documentaries and presentations of students. However, the main output is a paper that students have to develop and write on a topic of their choice. Depending on the availability, relevant cultural events (i.e. exhibitions) are included as well.

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Czech Republic programs! Offerings!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Czech Republic programs!

Download PDF with full program details on all AIFS Czech Republic, Prague programs!