Slavic Languages and Literatures | Literature and Culture of the Czechs and Slovaks 1
C363 | ALL | Volkova


While covering the history of the Czech and Slovak culture, the core
of this course is the development of literature, music and visual
arts. Also a brief survey of Czech and Slovak history is given. The
course covers the development until the 1890s.

Starting with the beginning of Slavic culture in the Czech and
Slovak lands - the 9th century Great Moravian Empire made famous by
the linguistic and literary work of St. Cyril and St. Methodius -
the course deals with the Czech and Slovak products of Romanesque
and Gothic culture, both in Old Church Slavic, Latin and in Czech.
Special emphasis is placed on the flowering of Czech Literature,
architecture and painting in the period of the Luxemburg dynasty,
when Bohemia became the center of the Holy Roman Empire. The
importance of John Hus (1379-1415), the founder of the Czech
Reformation is further taken up, together with his successors, the
Union of Czech Brethern, headed by J.A.Komensk (Comenius).

The following period of the Czech cultural heritage is closely
associated with Baroque culture which prevailed in the Czech lands
from the end of the sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth
centuries. It was rich in architecture, painting, etching, and
folklore which was the main representative of the Czech and Slovak
national consciousness in this period of extreme suppression of the
Czechs by the Germans.

The nineteenth century, which was marked by the influence of
enlightenment, the French Revolution, German romanticism and the
original concept of Slavism aroused by the writing of Herder,
receives the greatest emphasis in this course. A number of
outstanding representatives of this period are portrayed:
J.Dobrovsk, the founder of Slavic studies; the poet K.H.Mcha who is
closely related in his poetry with Lord Byron and Adam Mickiewicz;
the historian F. Palack and others. While the elements of
romanticism continued to linger almost until the end of the
nineteenth century, the year 1848 represents a milestone in Czech
culture and political history. It marks the first attempt of the
Czechs and Slovaks to assert themselves in the political arena of
Austria. Within a short period of time, Czech literature produced a
number of outstanding realist and naturalist poets and novelists.
Equally important and better known outside the country are the
composers B. Smetana and A. Dvok, as well as the impressionist
painters.

The course is a combination of a survey and discussions on selected
texts in its main corpus. Periodical sessions with pictures and
slides illustrating the achievements in the visual arts, as well as
music-appreciation sessions are scheduled. The relationship of the
Czech and Slovak cultures to the other European cultures is
systematically explored.

Requirements: Graduates - one paper around 15 pages. Undergraduates
the same, or two papers around 7 pages each. Midterm and Final essay
exam. Some semesters, periodic tests are given when class is
predominantly undergraduate.