Central Europe

A Birthplace of Modernity

Faculty of Arts

International Summer School of the
Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University
July 2 - July 21, 2017

Summer School 2016

Summer school - Central Europe

A Birthplace of Modernity

Summer School

This summer school will offer a complex take on the historical, cultural, and political developments taking place in Central Europe at the turn of the turn 19th and 20th centuries, which had a significant impact on European (intellectual) history and culture in the decades to come.


The school aims at familiarizing the students with the intricate interplay between the various radical innovations in the sciences and in the realm of culture (in philosophy, linguistics, literature, music, visual culture, and architecture) as they manifested themselves in the region against the backdrop of sweeping socio-political changes. Some of the developments in question contributed to fundamental reconfigurations of our understanding of the human nature, the reality we inhabit, and its representation.


Full attendance of the seminars and field trips; collective research project; essay (undergraduate students - min. 2000 words; graduate students min. 2500 words)
Credit value – 6 ECTS credits


The program of the summer school consist of daily seminars, lectures, a cultural program, excursions, and field trips.
The full program consists of forty-eight seminar hours (typically two-double periods in the morning), three afternoon/evening lectures on selected topics; two film-viewing sessions; two-day trips to Prague and Vienna, a guided tour through Brno, a visit to Brno’s unique UNESCO sight, the Villa Tugendhat, half-day trips to the battlefield of Austerlitz, the Lednice and Valtice UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the caves of the Moravian Karst; and visits to concerts and exhibitions depending on what is offered in the city.

This course focuses on the historical, cultural and political developments taking place in Central Europe from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The period begins symbolically with 1848, referred to variously as “the year of revolution” and “the springtime of the peoples” – the year that catapulted to the fore the concept of the nation and the power of nationalism, which were to have such a profound effect on the twentieth century in general and on Central Europe in particular. And the period ends, again symbolically, with 1948, the year of the Communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia, which sealed the fate of most of Central Europe for the next forty years, cutting it off from the mainstream of European development that it had been part of until then and to which it had contributed so much.

In the period from 1848 down to the First World War, we will be looking at the growth of competing nationalisms in the Central European region, the emergence of new social strata and new political forces, the development of pioneering ideas in the sciences and social sciences, and the groundbreaking changes in all areas of culture, in particular literature, art, architecture and music. With the collapse of the previous order at the end of World War I, the focus will shift to the different challenges facing the new constellation of states, challenges reflected in their political life, international relations, social and economic structures and their efforts to create new national cultures. Finally, we will treat the growing trend in the region towards authoritarian regimes in the 1930s, the physical and human devastation of World War II, and the final extinction of democracy in most of Central Europe after the war with its absorption into the Soviet empire.

The Summer School Team

Don Sparling

Don Sparling

Don Sparling is a Canadian who attended the Universities of Toronto and Oxford before coming to Czechoslovakia in 1969. Here he has lived and taught in Brno and Prague, working in language schools and then at Masaryk University in Brno, first in the Department of English and American Studies (where he twice served as Chair) and later, from 2000 to 2009, in the university’s Office for International Studies, in the position of Director. Since its inception in 2005 he has taught on the joint Masaryk University - University of Toronto summer school in Brno, which focuses on the history and culture of the Central European region.

Don Sparling

Zuzana Ragulová

Mgr. Zuzana Ragulová (*1987) is a Ph.D. student of Art History at Masaryk University, Brno. Her bachelor’s thesis focused on the City Accommodation Bureau, which was built in Brno in 1928. Her master’s thesis dealt with the Sochor family villas in Dvůr Králové nad Labem in the early 20th century. She is currently conducting research in Art Nouveau architecture in northern Italy and its possible connections with central Europe. Since 2014, she has taught a seminar at Masaryk University about architecture in Bohemia in the early 20th century. She co-organized the international Ph.D. student conference “Admired as Well as Overlooked Beauty”, held in Brno in 2014. In June 2015, she participated in the “II coupDefouet International Congress” in Barcelona, presenting the paper Czech Art Nouveau Architecture in the Cities of Prague, Brno and Hradec Králové.

Don Sparling

Jana Škerlová

Mgr. Jana Škerlová, Ph.D. (*1984) works as a research employee of the Department of 20th Century History at the Czech Academy of Sciences (Brno). Since 2011, she has worked as an external lecturer at the Centre for International Cooperation of Masaryk University in Brno. She is a vice-chair of Historia Europeana, a civil association which is open to all students, Ph.D. candidates, and academic staff who are interested in modern European history.

In 2009, Škerlová graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno, receiving her master’s degree from the Department of History and from the Department of Slavonic Studies (in History – Croatian Language and Literature). In 2015, she defended her Ph.D. thesis at the same faculty. Her research is mostly focused on the political history of the interwar period in Central and South-Eastern Europe. She also focuses on Yugoslav and Czechoslovak foreign policies between WWI and WWII, problems with neighboring states, and the demarcation of frontiers. She has published articles and studies on these topics in many Czech and foreign journals. She is currently preparing her first monograph about Czechoslovak-Yugoslav political relations for publication.

Don Sparling

Gábor Oláh

Gábor Oláh is a recent Ph.D. student at the Department of Sociology at Masaryk University, where he also works as a lecturer. He graduated from the Academic Study of Religions (2006) and Sociology (2008) and these fields form the background for his academic and research interests. Recently, he has been working on the topic of performativity of collective memory from a cultural-sociological perspective. His dissertation focuses on issues such as cultural trauma, event theory, iconicity, and materiality. His field of research is in Budapest, Hungary, where he explores statues, memorials, squares, and museums that provide conflicting meanings and are produced and maintained by interpretive and memory communities (Oláh & Szaló, forthcoming).

He participates in the department as a lecturer in the courses Introduction to Cultural Sociology, Sociological Theory, and General Sociology. He is in charge of organizing the Sociology department’s annual international conference Identities in Conflict, Conflict in Identities and the International Summer School on Cultural Sociology: Memory, Culture & Identity. He was a research group member in the projects Collective Memory and Transformation of Urban Space (2012-2014) (Oláh 2013) and Detraditionalization and Individualization of Religion in the Czech Republic (2006-2008) (Oláh, Hamar, & Ondrašinová 2008).

Since 2013, he has been an actively participating member of the curatorium of the non-profit Unfinished Past Foundation, which focuses on recent social and cultural problems in regional and global correlations. The first result of the foundation is the book Transnational Politics and the History of the Memory of the Holocaust (Zombory-Szász 2014 - published in Hungarian).

Oláh speaks Hungarian as his mother tongue. He was born in Slovakia and now lives in Brno, in the Czech Republic. He has a four-year-old son whom with he frequently goes to spot trains.


Tuition Fee (OECD countries): € 1700,-
Partial Tuition Waivers (MU Partner Universities): € 1200,-
Participants from non OECD countries and Mexico: € 1000,-

The tuition fee includes: the entire academic program; all field trips; entrance fees; accommodation in Brno, Prague and Vienna; a month-long public transportation ticket; a welcome reception and a wine tasting evening in a Moravian wine cellar.
Target Group – International students, both undergraduate and graduate

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Recommended literature


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