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 2021. Recommended U.S. credits are shown in parentheses. Courses are subject to change at the discretion of Charles University.

| 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.

Sessions B and C

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

Designed to teach students basics of the 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 directions, shopping, restaurants, daily routine, likes and dislikes). Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, comprehension, speaking, and writing.

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

While sharing the same geopolitical position within the Eastern Bloc, the individual cases – i.e. Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and others – differed significantly in their respective points of departure, as well as in political institutional solutions chosen in the course of their transitions. This comparative aspect will be studied and students will be also encouraged to challenge the mainstream understanding of “transition” as a 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.

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

Surveys Prague’s history, focusing on the lives and aspirations of its multinational inhabitants as they metamorphosed over 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 are explored through a critical reading of the motivations, techniques and achievements which are at play therein.

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Session B Only

ART 312 (3) | Humour and Czech Culture

Since Antiquity, humour has been listed as one of the defining traits of human beings. At the same time, it often serves to express antagonism between different groups of people (offensive or subversive humour). This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of humour, combining literary studies, culture studies, rhetoric, philosophy, ethics and psychology. From the divine to the obscene, from the hyper-intellectual to the nonsensical, from practical jokes to political satire, the rich palette of humour will give us a unique view of Czech culture.

ART 314 (3) | Gender and Culture

Students analyze how gender, ethnicity, race, class and sexual orientation are shaped by cultural and societal influences. This courses focuses on the comparisons of European and US gender regimes and diversity differences, interpretation and evaluation of social actions by religious, gender, ethnic, racial, class, sexual orientation groups affecting equality and social justice in Europe and the U.S. Documentaries, other visual materials, field trips and a guest speaker lecture are a part of this course.

HIST 302 (3) | Jewish History in Central and Eastern Europe

The course focuses on Jewish history in Central and Eastern Europe with an emphasis on the 19th and 20th century. The primary goals of the course are to study the political, cultural and economic situation of the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe and analyze the different forms of Jewish cultural and political identity. In the analysis, special attention will be paid to the history of Central and Eastern European countries at the beginning of the 20th century

HIST / LIT / POL 317 (3) | From Thoreau to Havel: Chapters in the 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. 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”.

LIT 357 (3) | Politics of Song: From Folklore to Hip-Hop

The course examines how songs relate to people’s attitudes to public life, and conversely, how attitudes to public life translate into songs. While focusing on lyrics, the course places selected Czech songs within their political, cultural, historical, and social contexts. Songs will be regarded as either challenging or confirming the status quo, and as either intrinsically political, or political because of the given context of reception (rock’n’roll in the Soviet Bloc). Students will co-create the class by bringing in songs of their choice from their own contexts. Guest speakers and field trips will bring a further dimension to the class.

PSYC 310 (3) | Psycholinguistics

Introduces 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.

SOC 300 (3) | Sociology of Food

Eating is a natural necessity for 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 their perspective in this course is sociological and semeiotical, students will 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 students will see and analyze their different cultures in a new light. Students will ask questions such as: What is the place of origin of their food? How did their food get to them? How does food configure and change relations among people?

Session C Only

ART 323 (3) | Alternative Cultures

This course provides critical insights into counterculture, 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

Designed to teach students the basics of the Czech language and to extend their knowledge of Czech culture and everyday life. Everyday vocabulary is emphasized and students are expected to communicate in real-life situations (introducing oneself, asking for directions, shopping, restaurants, daily routine, likes and dislikes). Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, comprehension, speaking, and writing.

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 course, 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: The Historical Forces which defined Central European History

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. 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 colorfulness you can observe diversity and colorfulness of the world whereas their specifics and peculiarities show distinction and specific nature of particular countries, peoples and cultures. 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. 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.

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.

SOC 354 (3) | Social Change in the 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.

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!