From the early 1950s, the University of Michigan has been a leading center for the study of Czech and Slovak culture, history, language, and politics. Over the years, U-M broadened its reputation in Czech and Slovak studies by organizing a range of activities including issuance of Cross Currents, a yearbook of Central European civilization, history, literature, and politics, published by Michigan Slavic Publications and featuring the works of Václav Havel, Milan Kundera, Josef Skvorecky, and others. Of particular note, the University of Michigan awarded an honorary degree to former Czech President and playwright Václav Havel in 2000.
Czech and Slovak studies at U-M emphasizes cross-disciplinary training in anthropology, art, economics, film, history, literature, linguistics, and sociology. In 2000, the Slavic Department inaugurated annual Czech studies workshops for junior scholars from across the U.S.; six have been held at U-M. CREES regularly features Czech and Slovak culture and history in its lectures and other programs.
Thanks to a generous five-year gift from Ronald Weiser, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia from 2001-04, and his wife, Eileen Lappin Weiser, interest in Slovak studies has grown significantly since 2004. From 2004-08, the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Awards for Student Research and Internships in Slovakia Program supported U-M student travel awards for summer or semester-long research projects or internships in Slovakia. During the same period, the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professional Development Award Program supported short-term travel awards to U-M and Slovak scholars and artists to stimulate sustained collaboration in research and teaching. Following a major gift from the Weisers in 2008 to fund European and Eurasian studies at U-M, these programs have been included in other CREES and Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia grant programs for U-M students, U-M faculty, and Slovak scholars and artists.
CREES faculty and research associates from a range of disciplines and professional fields pursue research and teaching on Czech and Slovak topics.
Cheek, Timothy: Music, Theatre & Dance
Eagle, Herbert J.: Slavic Languages & Literatures, Residential College
Herscher, Andrew: Architecture & Urban Planning, Slavic Languages & Literatures
Mrazek, Rudolf: History
Paloff, Benjamin: Slavic Languages & Literatures, Comparative Literature
Pasek, Ewa: Slavic Languages & Literatures
Poskovic, Endi: Art & Design
Spector, Scott: Germanic Languages & Literatures, History
Toman, Jindrich: Slavic Languages & Literatures
Zirbes, Georgette: Art & Design
Students can specialize in Czech and/or Slovak studies within interdisciplinary bachelor's, master's, and graduate certificate programs in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. In the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, they may pursue an undergraduate minor in Czech language, literature, and culture and Czech-related master's and doctoral degrees. Students may also emphasize Czech and/or Slovak topics in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in anthropology, business, comparative literature, economics, history, law, music, natural resources, political science, public policy, and sociology.
The University of Michigan offers a variety of courses on Czech and/or Slovak culture, film, history, language, literature, politics, and society (see below). For offerings in specific terms, see CREES courses.
Study Abroad: Through the Center for Global and Intercultural Study, U-M students can earn in-residence credit for semester- or academic-year study at Charles University's Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE) in Prague.
- First and Second Year Czech Language
- Czech 315 - The Czech New Wave and its Legacy
- Czech 480 - Supervised Czech Reading
- Czech 484 - Modern Czech Literature
- Economics 444 - The European Economy
- History 318 - Europe in the Era of Total War: 1870-1945
- History 319 - Europe Since 1945
- History 652 - Studies in East European History
- History 698 - Race/Ethnicity in Modern Europe
- International Business 568 - Business Issues in Transitional Economies
- Political Science 342 - Eastern Europe: Revolution, Reaction and Reform
- REEES 396 - East Central Europe: Nationalism, Socialism, Democracy
- REEES 397 - Communism and Capitalism in Eastern Europe
- Slavic 151 - First Year Seminar (e.g., Prague: The Magic City)
- Slavic 225 - Arts and Cultures of Central Europe
- Slavic 290 - Studies in Eastern European Cultures
- Slavic 312 - Central European Cinema
- SLAVIC 470 - Topics in Cultural Studies of Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe
- Study Abroad 332 - CGIS: Undergraduate Program in Central European Studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
- VoiceLit 388/504 - Czech Vocal Literature
Supporting Czech and Slovak Studies at the University of Michigan
Gifts to the CREES Endowment will support Czech and Slovak-focused seminars, symposia, travel for scholars, special courses, as well as student awards for research and internships in the region. Please review the various options for making a gift.
For more information, contact Marysia Ostafin by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (734.647.2237).
The following websites offer a starting place for Czech- and Slovak-related information.
University of Michigan Resources
- Czech Material from the Labadie Collection of Social Protest at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library: The 1968 Soviet Invasion of Prague
- Slavic Language Learning Site: Czech (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures)
- University Library Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Division
- Slovak Studies Association
- REESWeb (Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh)
- Webliographies (Slavic and East European Language Research Center, Duke University)
- Pozorblog (a blog about public opinion in Slovakia developed by CREES Research Associate Kevin Deegan-Krause, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wayne State University)