Representative works of Czech literature from the 1920s to the present in the context of earlier Czech and general European literary trends. Emphasis on prose and drama of major writers, including Hasek, Capek, Vancura, Skvorecky, Kundera, Vaculik, and Havel.
Caught between East and West, modernity and tradition, Slav and “European” identity, the region today known as Central Europe has produced some of the most vital, moving and irreverent literature in the world. This course will serve as a general introduction to modern Czech literature and film, focusing mostly on post-1918 works, with a comparative foray into former Yugoslav literature. We will pay special attention to the role 20th-century history and national tragedy have played in Czech culture, as well as how authors deploy humor and sex as a strategy of resistance, survival and celebration. In addition to reading novels and shorter pieces by Karel Čapek, Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, Ivan Klíma and others, we will also watch films by Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová and Jan Svěrák. The course concludes with a discussion of the current, post-socialist state of Czech literature, film and popular culture.