Course Description

Course Name

20th Century Ideas: European Literature, Film, and Visual Art

Session: VPGS1324

Hours & Credits

6 ECTS Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course Description

This course will take a number of the most dominant ideas/ideologies of the 20th century and explore how they have been addressed through a range of cultural mediums. Specifically, the impact and reception of Communism, Nazism and Liberal democracy (including anti-totalitarian activism) will be reviewed using a range of cultural sources. Areas which touch on current tensions between Liberal democracy and illiberalism /authoritarianism will be addressed. The course will involve a core seminar approach. Film, literature, and the arts have always played a central role in reflecting the attitudes towards the twin ideologies of Nazism and Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. They were central to propagandizing these ideologies and building their strength after World War I. However, they also provided the most vibrant forum for those challenging the totalitarian regimes established by Nazis and Communists. In the period since their fall, film, literature, and the arts have remained the core site of public debate on their nature, context and lasting impact. This course will explore this theme in a multidisciplinary way, drawing on history, political science, literature, film studies, and psychology. There is a broad and deep amount of material to draw upon which will allow students to easily inquire into areas of particular interest to them. In order to reinforce the point that the issues we are examining have meaning across regions and times, we will work thematically rather than chronologically. In this course we will be mixing approaches to how we explore the issues. Prague is one of the few capitals that experienced Liberal democracy, Nazism, Communism, and a return to Liberal democracy in little more than 50 years. Therefore, many opportunities emerge to meet people and visit places and events which can increase our understanding of the topic.


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Engage critically with a range of relevant films, documentaries, literature, and art;
  • Demonstrate a significant understanding of and critical engagement with different aspects of life and resistance in the region during the last century;
  • Relate this knowledge to contemporary issues of resurgent authoritarianism, challenges to Liberal democracy and interpretations of the role and relevance of the past;
  • Assess and illustrate the origins and experience of totalitarianism, the origins and experience of civil resistance to Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, and the role of artists reflecting it as part of a common discourse and memory.

*Course content subject to change