AIFS Abroad

AIFS Study Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic
Fall 2018 and Spring 2019
Course Descriptions

   

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

East and Central European Studies Program (ECES)

2-WEEK ORIENTATION PROGRAM

The Czech Language and Culture course is taught during orientation. It is a combination of Czech language instruction, cultural activities, and excursions throughout Prague. Classes are held for 4.5 hours per day, 5 days a week during the first 2 weeks of the program. Two all-day field trips are also included in the orientation.

All students must take the following course, but have a choice whether to receive a grade or take it pass/fail. Students select their preferred option when registering for courses in advance of the semester.

Course Code and Credits: Czech 101 (3) (required)
Course Title: Intensive Czech Language and Culture
Course Description:
The mandatory two-week Intensive Czech course is designed to teach students the 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 communicate in various situations of everyday life: introducing oneself, asking for directions, shopping, at a restaurant, one’s daily routine, likes and dislikes. Various linguistic skills should be developed in balance: knowledge of grammar, comprehension, speaking, and writing.

ECES Semester Courses

Choose up to 5 courses in addition to Czech 101. Where “Department” is listed after a course title, this indicates that the class is also offered to Czech students.

Art and Culture
Course Code and Credits: Art 301 (3) - Section I
Course Title: Czech and European Art and Architecture
Course Description:
A general overview of the Fine Arts development in Europe with a special focus on Central Europe and the monuments of Prague. Particular pieces of art that represent an époque or style are presented and students analyze the details, historical context, iconography and formal qualities that represent the individual style. The course will include field trips to museums.
Course Code and Credits: Art 301 (3) - Section II
Course Title: Czech and European Art and Architecture
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: Art 304 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: Music Between a University Language and Local Culture
Course Description:
The course will explore key topics in the philosophy of music, popular music studies and culture studies and thus serve as a general introduction to the field. Themes covered will include: music and technology, works of art, musical communities and identities, music and emotions, performance, mechanical reproduction, music and visual arts, and others. The classes will consist of interpreting short excerpts from various texts on music, discussion, listening to musical samples from classical as well as popular music, and field trips. Excerpts will be taken from texts by philosophers such as Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes and Jacques Attali as well as by musicians like David Byrne or John Cage. No prior knowledge of philosophy or musical education is required.
Course Code and Credits: ART 312 309 (3)
Course Title: Humour and Czech Culture
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: ART 323 (3)
Course Title: Alternative Cultures
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Culture 309 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: Czech Cultural Studies: Official and Unofficial Czech Cultures in the 2nd Half of the 20th Century
Course Description:
Discusses the relationship between culture, politics and society by delving into Czech cultural expression. In addition to lectures we will watch films and documentaries from and about the period, analyze independent photographs and propaganda posters, listen to pro- and anti-communist songs and read works of fiction. Where appropriate, we will take site visits within Prague.
Course Code and Credits: Film 326 (3)
Course Title: Czech and Slovak New Wave Cinema
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Film 343 (3)
Course Title: Jewish Images in Central European Cinema
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: Film 327 (3)
Course Title: From High Brow to No-Brow: Genre in Central European and Socialist Cinema
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: History/Politics/Art 303 (3)
Course Title: Czech Culture and Civilization Course: A Field Trip into Czech Psyche
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Photography xxx (course code TBA) (3)
Course Title: Edges of Photography
Course Description:
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.

CZECH LANGUAGE

For higher levels of Czech individual courses will be arranged.

Course Code and Credits: Czech 102 (3)
Course Title: Czech Language for Everyday Use - Level I
Course Description:
In this course students will learn basic Czech which will help them to communicate in everyday situations in the Czech Republic. Students will be able to talk with Czech speakers in shops and restaurants, in theaters and on the street, and the knowledge of the language will help them to come to know the Czech mentality and culture.
Course Code and Credits: Czech 102 (3)
Course Title: Czech Language for Everyday Use I- Section II
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.

ECONOMICS AND POLITICS
Course Code and Credits: Economics 305 (3)
Course Title: Global Economy and Crises
Course Description:
This course combines application of International Economics and International Political Economy to the processes of globalisation and current economic downturn. It explores different ways in which current globalisation changes the position of different actors of the Global Economic System as well as the balance between state and market and their interactions. The course focuses on analysis of historical and contemporary issues in the Global Economic Order both in theoretical and applied perspective. Important part of the course focuses on comparative perspectives both in the form of Comparison of Economic Systems and of comparison of past major world economic crises. The course is divided into three main parts. The first part seeks to provide students with an introduction and comparison of the principal actors of current global economy. States and their regional integrations (RTAs), international organization (e.g. UN, WTO, IMF, WB), and TNCs will be introduced and analysed in comparative perspective. Second part provides students with the long-term trends of the global economy, i.e. with globalisation, global mobility of goods, services, capital and labour as well as with comparative analysis of past crises. Globalisation’s influence on balances within global governance system will be stressed. Third part describes the causes and consequences of the current economic crisis as well as the current reaction on different levels of the global and economic governance (states, G20, IMF, WTO). Changing balance between states and other actors of the global economy (TNCs, RTAs, international organizations) should be another main outcome of this part.
Course Code and Credits: Politics 302 (3)
Course Title: Central Europe in the Context of European Integration
Course Description:
This course reacts to the last developments in the Central European space in the dynamic process of the European integration. The migration situation since 2015, the threats of terrorism, the decision of the Great Britain to leave the European Union within two years are largely influencing also the political atmosphere in Central European countries. This class will make an attempt to explain the interdependence of both the developments of five Central European countries (Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Hungary) after the historical changes in 1989, as well as those developments inside the EU caused by the enlargement of the EU into Central Europe.
Course Code and Credits: Politics 315 (3)
Course Title: Comparative Politics: Transformation of Czechoslovakia and Czech Republic
Course Description:
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 special focus. 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.
Course Code and Credits: Politics 326 (3)
Course Title: Dealing with Neighbours - National Identities and Relationships in Central Europe
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: Politics 337 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: Czechoslovakian Dissent under Communist Rule: Political Thinking from the 1950s-1990s
Course Description:
The aim of this course is to give an overview about relevant figures, events and texts in communist Czechoslovakia. This will include political debates during the Prague Spring, the dissident movement and its political thinking in the 70s and 80s, as well as a few representative articles from the early 90s.

HISTORY
Course Code and Credits: History 302 (3)
Course Title: Jewish History in Central and Eastern Europe
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: History/Politics/Art 303 (3)
Course Title: Czech Culture and Civilization Course: A Field Trip into Czech Psyche
Course Description:
This interdisciplinary course is designed as a unique insight into Czech/Slovak history, politics and arts and should provide students with serious data and information as well as with “lighter” reflection on certain specifics of the development of the country in the heart of Europe.

Learning through interactive seminars, visual arts, documentaries and visiting various artists’ studios in and around Prague.
Course Code and Credits: History 312 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: The Formation of Europe and its Nations
Course Description:
This course combines application of International Economics and International Political Economy to the processes of globalisation and current economic downturn. It explores different ways in which current globalisation changes the position of different actors of the Global Economic System as well as the balance between state and market and their interactions. The course focuses on analysis of historical and contemporary issues in the Global Economic Order both in theoretical and applied perspective. Important part of the course focuses on comparative perspectives both in the form of Comparison of Economic Systems and of comparison of past major world economic crises. The course is divided into three main parts. The first part seeks to provide students with an introduction and comparison of the principal actors of current global economy. States and their regional integrations (RTAs), international organization (e.g. UN, WTO, IMF, WB), and TNCs will be introduced and analysed in comparative perspective. Second part provides students with the long-term trends of the global economy, i.e. with globalisation, global mobility of goods, services, capital and labour as well as with comparative analysis of past crises. Globalisation’s influence on balances within global governance system will be stressed. Third part describes the causes and consequences of the current economic crisis as well as the current reaction on different levels of the global and economic governance (states, G20, IMF, WTO). Changing balance between states and other actors of the global economy (TNCs, RTAs, international organizations) should be another main outcome of this part.
Course Code and Credits: History 318 (3)
Course Title: Czech and Central European History
Course Description:
  • History of Bohemia and Moravia (historically the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, today the Czech Republic) since primeval times till present.
  • History of the peoples in this territory (ancient cultures, Celts, Germanic tribes, Slavonic tribes, Czechs, Germans, Jews, Slovaks, Gypsies, other minorities).
  • Broad geographical context (the Czech Lands – Central Europe – Europe).
  • Broad thematic context (political, social, cultural history).
Course Code and Credits: History 321 (3)
Course Title: Cold War and the Soviet Block: Impacts for Eastern Europe and World
Course Description:
The course deals, particularly, with the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and East-European countries during times of the so called Cold war. It analyses the development of international relations with special emphasis on Eastern Europe. It focuses on basic and forming milestones of the Soviet foreign policy, its principles, strategies and direction. The great emphasis will be given primarily to the rivalry of the Eastern and Western countries during the Cold war (the lectures will be devoted also to the foreign policy of the Soviet satellites) but there will be also space for analysis of relations among the Soviet Union (Soviet block) and Middle East, Near Asia, Far East, Africa, Latin America, China and others. The course will concentrate also on the key assumptions of the Soviet foreign policy, such as ideology, propaganda, viewing of others etc. It contains two parts: lecture (2×45 minutes per week) and seminar (2×45 minutes per week). Lectures will offer key information to the topic while seminars will develop acquired knowledge through discussions, examples, presentations, projections etc.
Course Code and Credits: History 328 (3)
Course Title: Totalitarianism Revisited
Course Description:
The course intends to be a basic introduction to the development of historical and contemporary way of thinking about the two most significant authoritarian or undemocratic regimes – Nazism and Communism. Initial reading of fundamental ideological works and classical theoretical essays of totalitarian theory will provide students the most significant basis of understanding further debates on the field of history. Students will have an opportunity to be acquainted with both the most relevant general, theoretical and methodological debates and their concrete practical application in the research of the East-Central European history. They will have an opportunity to cultivate their abilities in discussing general preconditions of historical understanding of political power but at the same time, they will learn fundamental knowledge of the history of East-Central Europe in the 20th Century.
Course Code and Credits: History 329 (3)
Course Title: Stunde Null (Zero Hour). The End of the Second World War in Europe and Its Aftermath (1944-1947)
Course Description:
Course description coming soon.
Course Code and Credits: History 340 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: Conflicting Identities: The Influence of Germany over Central Europe (from the Middle Ages to 1945)
Course Description:
The course focuses on the history of Central Europe through the perspective of German influence. It will shed light on complicated and controversial notions such as “Central Europe”, “Germany”, and “Mitteleuropa” as well as “nationalism”, the “nation state”, and “multinational states”.

LITERATURE
Course Code and Credits: Literature 310 (3) (spring only)
Course Title: 20th-century Prague Literature in International Context
Course Description:
Covers selected chapters of 20th-century Czech literature as part of the Central- and Eastern-European and Anglo-American contexts. Students study the works of highly influential authors including Karel Capek and Franz Kafka. The course will conclude with an overview of the post-1989 situation, where Prague literature has once again become the locus of lively international exchange and prominent Czech or Prague-based writers have re-entered into dialogue with other traditions and languages.
Course Code and Credits: Politics/Literature 317 (3)
Course Title: From Thoreau to Havel: Chapters in Czech and American Struggle for Social Justice
Course Description:
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”.
Course Code and Credits: Literature 320 (3)
Course Title: German – Jewish Literature in Prague
Course Description:
This course examines literature by Jewish authors who wrote in German and lived in Prague during the first half of the 20th century. A primary goal of the course is to provide an understanding of the political, social, and cultural situation of German-Jewish authors during the interwar period. We will consider the precarious position of the German-Jewish community, which lived in a metaphoric “double ghetto” (as both “German” and Jewish) in Prague, and the various ways that their literary texts navigate issues related to national identity, language, religion, and social integration.

For those already familiar with Kafka, the course will provide crucial background information for a more profound understanding of his works in a broader literary context. In addition, the course covers a few lesser known, yet equally as compelling authors from the period, most of whom were actually more widely renowned than Kafka at the time. The course focuses on the life and work of four authors: Egon Erwin Kisch, Franz Kafka, Hermann Ungar, Ernst Weiss, and Leo Perutz. We will also read several historical studies that will provide socio-cultural background for understanding these primary texts. A few texts on Jewish themes by non-Jewish Prague-German authors will provide further context for our interpretation of the main works under consideration. In addition, we will read a text from the “last” representative of German-Jewish literature, Lenka Reinerová, from the late 20th century. The first half of the course examines the general socio-cultural context of Jewish life in Prague and considers various shorter literary texts. The second half of the course is dedicated primarily to reading a few short novels and discussing the end of the Jewish and German literary traditions in Prague after World War II and the Holocaust.

SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY
Course Code and Credits: Psychology 310 (3)
Course Title: Psycholinguistics
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Psychology 355 (3)
Course Title: Selected Topics in Social Psychology: Soft Skills
Course Description:

Soft skills have got a great impact on our success and satisfaction in life. The concept of soft skills consists of both intra-personal and inter-personal aspects. This course presents a well-balanced practical overview of the soft skills world.

The content will be adapted according to the students, possible topics are:

  • Social perception, stereotyping, prejudices.
  • Effective communication principles.
  • Coaching.
  • Self-management.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Assertiveness and manipulation recognition.
  • Resolving conflicts.
  • Teamwork, group problem solving.
  • Stress management.
  • Creativity.

Self experience is one of the most important outcomes of this seminar and therefore active learning methods will be used in every session (discussion, role-play, simulations, exercises, art, reflective journal, peer counselling, etc.). The whole class is more practice-oriented than theory oriented.

Course Code and Credits: Sociology 300 (3)
Course Title: Sociology of Food
Course Description:
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 workshops where students will try to cook a Central European meal and discuss it with a Czech chef.
Course Code and Credits: Sociology 345 (3)
Course Title: Contemporary Czech Art, Culture and Literature: Urban Semiotics
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Sociology 353 (3)
Course Title: Landscape Sociology: Understanding of Czech and European Landscapes – (spring only) - Department
Course Description:
Holistically, landscape sociology incorporates philosophical, cultural, anthropological and ecological interactions between man and nature, and between social and ecological systems. Human experiences with landscapes, social and cultural constructions and transformations of landscapes, and the ways in which we bring meaning to landscapes are the main topics of this course.
Course Code and Credits: Sociology 354 (3)
Course Title: Social Changes after 1989 – Department
Course Description:
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.
Course Code and Credits: Sociology 356 (3)
Course Title: Czech Republic: An Urban Perspective – Department
Course Description:
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 3) 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.
Course Code and Credits: Sociology/History 360 (3)
Course Title: Consumerism and Everyday Practices under State Socialism
Course Description:
In this seminar we are going to address the specifics of consumption culture in state socialism. As a central societal and political phenomena it had potentially legitimizing and delegitimizing effects on socialist states. Coming from the perspective of the every-day and cultural history we will be looking at how ordinary people influenced state policy through their practices and vica versa. We will be seeking a deeper understanding of consumption in socialism while giving special attention to similarities and differences within the “socialist bloc”.