Doc. Kristina Kaiserová (USGS UJEP)
Doubravka Olšáková, PhD. (USGS UJEP)
Mgr. Václav Houfek (USGS UJEP)
Katarina Beňová, PhD. (Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava)
Prof. Roman Holec (Historical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava)
Prof. Andras F. Balogh (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
Mgr. Gert Rohrborn (Robert Schuman Foundation, Warszawa)
Mgr. Akad. Arch. Roman Brychta a Petr Lešek (Projektil Architekti, Praha)
Aims and objectives of the course:
The main goal of the course is to work with collective and historical memory of various nations living in the area of Central Europe. Their lives and fortunes often influenced one another but seldom intersected. And when they did, it usually included only narrowly defined groups which intentionally searched for continuity in the space of discontinuity. An example of such efforts is found, e.g., in the aims of Sudeten German social democrats who referred with reverence to Jan Hus whom they viewed as a symbol of Czechoslovak statehood, though they saw him through a lens corresponding to their interpretation of Czechoslovak-German relations.
Can one find a joint element or a shared line of interpretation within all these memories of V4 nations and groups? In the 19th century, interpretation models of national histories were defined in direct opposition to the political discourse of the ruling political majority. (The only possible exception being Hungary, which secured for itself a kind of double role.) In the 20th century, models of national histories changed and came to be defined in accordance with the requirements of totalitarian regimes. During the period of Nazi occupation, national histories of V4 countries were revised so as to find and highlight Germanic elements. In the second half of the 20th century, what was emphasised were elements of shared Slavic heritage or allegiance to the Soviet model.
This situation led to an accumulation of historical schemes which reflected political demands but not historical reality and memories of older generations. After 1989, however, most political taboos concerning this part of Europe fell together with the Iron Curtain. Central Europe abandoned a unified Marxist-Leninist interpretation of national history, which led to an unmasking of ‘blank spaces’ within these national narratives. These parts of history are now gradually mapped and interpreted, and yet, in some cases, the taboo surrounding particular subjects (forced removals, ethnic cleansing, East versus West) is broken only gradually and painfully. These issues are influenced by developments in foreign policies and by political priorities of international relations and in the course of these processes, old stereotypes sometimes also come back to life.
New interpretation of existing historical discourse also opens new opportunities for working with historical memory, and this is where exhibitions can play a significant role. Currently, we are witnessing several debates surrounding the possibility of permanent exhibitions that would reflect interpretation shifts. In Germany, foundation Sichtbares Zeichen. Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung is preparing an exhibition on the subject of expulsion, resettlement, and racial cleansing in Central Europe, which should take place under the auspices of the German Historical Museum. In the Czech Republic, the Collegium Bohemicum is preparing a new permanent exhibition that would trace the history of Germans in the Czech Lands.
The process of disclosing various layers of collective memories should be approached carefully so as to make sure that old clichés are not just replaced by new but equally schematic views. Graduates of this course should learn to search for historical issues’ context not only on a theoretical, i.e., historical, level but also from the perspective of work with different kinds of historical memory. In order to achieve this, the course will focus on analysis of visual stereotypes of historical memory as they appeared both in graphic art and in film.
The course is divided in two equal parts. Within the theoretical section, students attend lectures as well as seminars on select issues. In this lecture-based section, they will also visit various museums in V4 countries. These excursions will be guided by the guarantors of the course who will be responsible for providing all requisite historical background of these ‘field excursions’. During museum visits students will also benefit from the expertise of architects who will use practical examples from expositions to demonstrate the basic ways of working with historical symbols in a particular space, the use of various ways of exhibiting relevant items, strategies used to influence and guide visitors, etc.
Completing the course:
The course will be completed by writing a short essay, which could be used an introduction to an exhibition project whose subject the student chooses in relation to the course. What is to be evaluated is student’s ability to clearly describe the main historical issue, his or her skill in presenting the subject in a form attractive to potential exhibition visitors, and his or her ability to work with material of varying historical quality and importance. The essay/project will be discussed in a group.
TENTATIVE TIME-FRAME OF LECTURES:
1) What is Central Europe? (K. Kaiserová)
2) Museum and exhibitions in theory and practice (V. Houfek)
3) Poland and its minorities after 1918 (TBC)
4) Polish visual canon of history of Central Europe (D. Olsakova)
5) Czechoslovakia and its minorities after 1918 (K. Kaiserová)
6) Czech visual canon of history of Central Europe (D. Olsakova)
7) Hungary and its minorities after 1918 (A. Balogh)
8) Slovakia after 1918 (R. Holec)
9) The function of museums in the 20th century (theory), part I (V. Houfek)
10) The function of museums in the 20th century, part II (V. Houfek)
11-12) Visit of a selected exhibition in the Czech Republic (Ústí nad Labem, Lidice, etc.) – (R. Brychta/P.Lešek)
1) Hungarian and Slovak visual canon of history of Central Europe (K. Benova)
2) Sovietisation of Central Europe after 1946 (D. Olsakova)
3) Marxist interpretation of national histories after 1948 (D. Olsakova)
4) History of Central Europe in film, part I (TBC)
5) History of Central Europe in film, part II (TBC)
6) Marxist interpretation of national histories after 1948 (D. Olsakova)
7) Main memorial institutions in V4 countries (G. Roehrborn)
8) Research on history of minorities in Central Europe after 1989 (K. Kaiserová)
9 -10-11) Excursion abroad (Warsaw/Bratislava/Budapest) - (R. Brychta/P.Lešek)
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