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Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czech nation in the Austrian Empire and After (17th – 21st centuries) - JMMZ204
Anglický název: Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czech nation in the Austrian Empire and After (17th – 21st centuries)
Zajišťuje: Katedra ruských a východoevropských studií (23-KRVS)
Fakulta: Fakulta sociálních věd
Platnost: od 2015 do 2015
Semestr: oba
Body: 6
E-Kredity: 6
Rozsah, examinace: 2/2 Zk [hodiny/týden]
Počet míst: zimní:20 / 20 (20)
letní:neurčen / neurčen (20)
Minimální obsazenost: neomezen
Stav předmětu: vyučován
Jazyk výuky: angličtina
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Poznámka: předmět je možno zapsat mimo plán
povolen pro zápis po webu
při zápisu přednost, je-li ve stud. plánu
předmět lze zapsat v ZS i LS
Garant: David Lee Robbins, Ph.D.
Mgr. Marcela Janíčková
doc. PhDr. Jiří Vykoukal, CSc.
Vyučující: Mgr. Marcela Janíčková
Mgr. Marcela Janíčková
Mgr. Blanka Maderová, Ph.D.
David Lee Robbins, Ph.D.
David Lee Robbins, Ph.D.
Cíl předmětu -
Poslední úprava: David Lee Robbins, Ph.D. (14.01.2018)

The course is composed of a lecture (45 minutes) and a seminar (practicals) that lasts 90 minutes. Lecture begins at 12:30, followed by 45 minute break and a 90 minute seminar. 



Lecture: 12:30 - 13:15, Jinonice, classroom 

Seminar: 14:00 - 15:30, Jinonice, classroom 


Students can attend 5 optional trips related to course subjects  and led by the course‘ instructors. For the description of trips and schedule, see the bottom of this text.



European students may have an impression that they went over the period of 17th – 20th centuries in Central Europe in great detail.

However, the purpose of the course is to provide novel interpretations of Central Europe and its dynamics.

The study of Central Europe has been misleadingly neglected in both Western Europe and the U.S. Prior to 1945, the cultural and geo-political construct of "Central Europe" comprised Germany, the (former) Hapsburg Empire (Austria, the Czech lands, Hungary, Slovenia), and Poland. After 1945, the Cold War displaced this "Central Europe" concept by redividing the continent into Communist "Eastern Europe" and non-Communist "Western Europe," Even now, decades after the end of the Cold War in 1989, the older conceptual formation of "Central Europe" has not quite been recovered as a geographic, cultural, and analytic category. Instead, we often hear about "East Central Europe" or "East Europe and the Balkans."


Yet Central Europe, through its multiculturalism, resistance to political consolidation, and other characteristic regional dynamics, has foundationally influenced the shape of 21st-century Europe.

There,  in "Enlightenment" ideas were institutionalized in state structures and practices. There, ethnic nationalism arose and prospered, and from there spread continent- and world-wide. There, the practices of the paternalistic welfare state were initiated and tested. There, Marxism and Communism first provided a popular alternative to economic, political, and diplomatic exploitation by "capitalists" who through unrepresentative institutions maintained control over their states and some even over entire empires.



The history of Central Europe from the 19th century onward is a history of painful interactions between various ethnic groups - so-called "nations" in the European terminology (as opposed to states that are political entities.)

 hese ethnic nations did not exist from time immemorial. In fact, up to the 19th century people defined themselves by their religion and homeland.  The early 19th century brought an enormous change. Under the influence of the Romantic movement, people began to view themselves as members of groups connected by an indissoluble bond of language and unique culture. Patriotism came under attack by nationalism.

Nationalism was especially strong in multinational states where one ethnic group, not necessarily the most numerous, dominated other ethnic groups politically, economically, and culturally. Such was the case of the Austrian Empire, the largest political entity in Central Europe, the home of approximately nine ethnic groups. Under the influence of nationalism, the groups that historically had less influence started to rally around the idea of the uniqueness of each nation and of its right to exfolliate its potential free of imposition by another nation. They cultivated their language and culture vigorously, and aspired to greater self-government in the territory they inhabited. One must admit that nationalism had many positive results - even though these days we tend to interpret it in negative terms.

The Austrian Empire was not only threatened internally - it was also threatened from the outside by the longing of Germans to unite all the 35 independent states in which they lived into one great German Empire. This longing appeared for the first time in 1848, and it shook the very foundations of the Austrian Empire.It was then that the majority of Austrian Germans, the ruling class in the Austrian Empire, were so attracted by the idea of a liberal German state that they were willing to break up the Austrian Empire and to take that part of the Austrian Empire they inhabited "into Germany."

This danger was averted in 1848 but the German nation would not remain scattered for long. The  so-called Second Empire was established in 1871 and it assumed the hegemony in Central Europe once enjoyed by the Austrian Empire.

How did the Czechs fare in this tumult? Did they extricate themselves from domination by Austrian Germans? What happened after the Austrian Empire fell apart in 1918? How did the Czechs fare then - prior to and during World War II? And why is it that half of Central Europe embarked on the Communist experiment after the war? Did this development have anything to do with the old ideology of nationalism?

We will try to address these questions by looking at interactions between the various peoples at all levels. For it was the conflicting interests of dominant (imperial) nations which ruled over subject nations in the Austrian Empire (i.e. Germans vs Czechs) that shaped the politics and culture of Central Europe.

Not all nations could attain their goals - at least not at the same time as all the others. That is the nature of the Central European experience - the notion that one cannot always get what one wants, that one must accept the circumstances and arrange oneself accordingly; the sense of the tragic, of things that must be and are beyond our control.


TRIPS and their schedule

March 2          concentration camp Terezín (day trip)

March 16        imperial castle Karlštejn and a hike in the vicinity (trip to Great America and Mexico limestone quarries)

March 23        hiking trip to Bohemian Paradise (Rock town of Hruboskalsko)

April 13          medieval silver-mining town Kutna hora and a Bone chapel (Ossuary) in Sedlec

April 20-22     two/three-day trip to Southern Bohemia: medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, Cistercian monastery Golden Crown and a nice hike through the countryside

                     plus optional one day in Salzburg

May 4-May 7  4-day trip to Vienna, capital of Austria

Literatura -
Poslední úprava: David Lee Robbins, Ph.D. (15.02.2017)

Key texts:


Hugh LeCaine Agnew, The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2004). 

Isaiah Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999).

Paul Robert Magocsi, Historical Atlas of Central Europe (University of Washington Press; Rev Exp edition, 2002).

Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless" 


Essays supplied by the instructor from the following publications:


Mikuláš Teich, Bohemia in History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Jürgen Tampke, Czech-German Relations and the Politics of Central Europe, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Jiří Musil, The End of Czechoslovakia, (Budapest: Central European University Press, 1995)


Reference texts:


Eric Roman, Austria-Hungary and the Successor States: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2003).

Especially useful sections:


b) Chronologies of the history of 5 successor countries, pp. 582-634

c) Rulers and Statesmen of 5 successor countries, pp. 637-650

d) Maps

Sylabus -
Poslední úprava: David Lee Robbins, Ph.D. (15.02.2017)


Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czechs in the Austrian Empire and After (17th - 21st ct)


 Course supervisor: David L. Robbins, PhD


Instructors: Mgr. Marcela Janíčková, prof. David L. Robbins, PhD, Blanka Maderová, PhD


Recommended number of ECTS credits: 6 


Grading procedure:


- midterm: 40% of the final grade

- final exam: 40% of the final grade

- presentation: 20% of the final grade

- make-up exams are possible 




Two absences are permitted. If you are absent more times, you will be asked to write a paper to make up for the class(es) missed.





Session 1         Introduction 

Session 2         Lecture: Enlightenment in theory                        

Session 3        Enlightenment in practice: reforms under Maria Teresa and Joseph II

Session 4         Romanticism as a backlash against Enlightenment

Session 5         Birth of Nationalism; its growth during the Napoleonic wars 

Session 6         Czech national revival and its phases: development of language, synthesis of the Czech cultural tradition including the history of the Czechs,

                      creation of works that institutionalized Czech culture and formed Czech identity.

                      Weaknesses of the Czech national revival and gradual self-critique

Session 7        Springtime of Nations in the German Confederation – consequences of German unification movement on the relations between Bohemian Czechs and Bohemian Germans.

                       Plans for revamping of Austria                         

Session 8          Aftermath of the revolution of 1848 – Francis Joseph’s and Bach’s absolutism and its erosion

                        From constitutional monarchy to Austria-Hungary; beginning of the (Czech) political life in the Austrian Empire


Session 9           Czech politics and culture in Austria-Hungary from Ausgleich to 1910’s

                       Encounter of the "national culture" with cosmopolitan modernism


Session 10           Jews in Austria-Hungary (18th and 19th ct)


Session 11           WWI and Czech striving for independent Czechoslovakia


Session 12       Midterm exam

Session 13       First Czechoslovak Republic: experiment in building a pluralist society

                      State Right argument vs. right to national determination; Idea of the Czechoslovak nation state with minorities;

                      geography, demographics,  political system, economic situation.


Session 14       Continuation: First Czechoslovak Republic: experiment in building a pluralist society


Session 15        Attitudes of Slovaks to Czechoslovakia and Czechs: from establishment of the republic to the Munich agreement of 1938


Session 16           Attitudes of Bohemian Germans to Czechoslovakia and Czechs in the 1920's: from refusal to acceptance, from negativism to activism.

                          Bohemian Germans in the 1930's: from autonomist goals to destruction of the First Czechoslovak Republic.


Session 17       WWII in the Czech lands: the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia


Session 18       Post-war changes in Central Europe and Czechoslovakia – crafting a welfare state: 

                       changes of the political system, expulsion and resettlement of populations, coping  with the past (retribution decrees and amnesty law), first nationalizations in the  economy.


Session 19       Communist seizure of power in February 1948, Construction of the Communist Utopia

                         Attractions and realities of life in the communist society in the 1950's


Session 20       Causes and the program of the Prague Spring reform movement


Session 21       Czechoslovak experience under Normalization


Session 22           Velvet Revolution of 1989; political transformation


Session 23       Break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993, establishment of the Czech Republic

                       Economic transformation and its crisis


Session 24       European Integration


Final Exam


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