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Unit information: From Nation-Building to Rat-Catching: Czech Literature 1817-1913 in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name From Nation-Building to Rat-Catching: Czech Literature 1817-1913
Unit code RUSS20046
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Chitnis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit covers the period between the 1817 'discovery' of the Queen's Court Manuscript, which marked a new stage in the Czech 'National Revival', and the 1913 publication of Almanach na rok 1914, which marked a new stage in the development of Czech Modernism. In the period, Czech writers belatedly respond to trends in recent European literature, including Romanticism and the modern novel, and develop their own modern literature in prose, drama and verse. In this unit we shall study about five major works of Czech literature from the period, including key examples of Czech Romanticism, Symbolism and Decadence, the development of Czech Realism and the beginnings of literary Modernism. A key focus of the unit is developing students' ability to read literature in Czech, with poetry read and analysed in class. The assessment will test both students' ability to provide close readings of short passages and to compare specific features across two works studied.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to second year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students' engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level C.
  • Some options may prepare students for the experience of the Year Abroad.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching details

2 x 1hr slots weekly.

Assessment Details

One 2000-word essay plus 2-hour exam (50% / 50%)

Reading and References

Karel Hynek Mácha (1810-36) - Máj (1836), Bo~ena Nmcová (1820?-62) - Babi ka (1855), Jan Neruda (1834-91) - Povídky malostranské (1877)