Emerging Nations: Identity and Culture in Today's Central Europe
March 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11 2007, King 106/Craig Auditorium
Since 1989, the formerly Communist nations of Central and Eastern Europe have undergone immense social change. The Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, and Poland have enjoyed successful transitions: each has joined the European Union and avoided major political upheaval. (The 20th-century's legacy of foreign occupations and abrupt shifts in politics certainly aided in the construction of national identities through the cultivation of distinct national cultures.)
This course begins with an overview of the region, and considers interactions of society, language, and culture in these small European nations "whose existence," as Milan Kundera has explained, "may be put in question at any moment." The second half of the course will focus on the arts and culture of the Slovak Republic, one of the newest (and for Westerners, least familiar) nations of the region. Lectures and presentations by visiting speakers from Central Europe and North American specialists will help students understand challenges the region currently faces, as well as the evolving role of culture in societies where long-awaited artistic freedoms have been accompanied by economic and political uncertainty.