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Unit information: Introduction to Czech History and Culture in 2019/20

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 Introduction to Czech History and Culture
Unit code RUSS10038
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chitnis
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit, students will study the history of the Czechs chronologically from ‘Good King’ Wenceslas to President Havel. They will develop a sound introductory knowledge of key overarching themes and interpretations of Czech political and cultural history. Classes will focus on key figures, episodes or periods, including the reign of Charles IV, the early church reformer, Jan Hus, Bohemia and the Thirty Years War, the nineteenth-century National Revival, Tomáš Masaryk and the creation of Czechoslovakia, the German occupation and the Communist period. Alongside the study of competing historiographical interpretations, students will also explore works of literature, art, music and film created in a given period and/or representing it.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will a) have a sound introductory understanding of key episodes, events and figures in Czech history. They will also be able to b) discuss key recurring themes, including the Czech position between East and West, Czech-German relations and the role of nationalism in shaping and interpreting Czech history. They will also c) have a developing knowledge of Czech cultures relationship with Czech history and Czech national identity, and will be able to d) analyse this relationship in key texts.

Teaching details

1 x weekly lecture, 1 x weekly seminar (split group)

Assessment Details

2000-word essay (50%) plus 2-hour exam (50%), testing ILOs a-d.

Reading and References

Karel Erben, A Bouquet of National Folk Tales (1853) Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk (1921) Mary Heimann, Czechoslovakia: The State that Failed, London, 2011. Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Princeton, NJ, 1998. R.W.Seton-Watson, A History of the Czechs and Slovaks, London, 1943.