L: Contemp Czech Writings
This multi-genre seminar traces motifs of conspiracy and sensuality that often define recent works by Czech Writers and artists. Featured artists may include Jaroslav Hasek (novelist); Miroslav Holub (poet, immunologist); Bohumil Hrabal (novelist);Vaclav Havel (former president, dissident, playwright); Jiri Menzel (director); Iva Pekarkova (novelist, former NYC cabdriver); Ota Pavel (journalist; short story writer); Jan and Eva Svankmejer (animation artists, sculptors, writers, filmmakers, surrealists); Jiri Trnka (painter, animation artist, puppet-maker);and Ludvik Vaculik (essayist, dissident). Genres considered include poetry, theater pieces, stories, novels, films and the classic Czech genre of feuilletons - short essays or chronicles. The course format includes lecture, discussion, and critical and creative thinking, writing, and viewing activities. To help contextualize our explorations, we'll hear from a guest speaker on the political and cultural history of Central Europe. Our objectives for the course are to gain knowledge of Czech artistic production - both the works themselves and the means of production, samizdat and otherwise - before and after the 1989 Velvet Revolution; to identify and analyze writing strategies of contemporary Czech writers; and to acquire an understanding of Czech culture and identity that allows for fruitful engagement with this intriguing world literature.