Magic and Power of Prague

Charles University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Magic and Power of Prague

  • Host University

    Charles University

  • Location

    Prague, Czech Republic

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, History, Literature, Religion

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description & objectives

    This course will introduce Prague not only as the city that has had the reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also as one of the most mystical and atmospheric. There is nowhere quite like this capital of Bohemia with its chaotic and rich mix of symbolism and imagery. Even from the time of its mythical foundation by Libu?e, a Slavic princess who was also a magician and oracle, it has been associated with enchantment. Few nations have created so many myths about themselves as the Czechs. As with other national mythologies, Czech myths mostly concern the history and self-perception of the ethnic group.

    In this course we examine authentic historical texts from various magical traditions to find the truth behind the fiction and the historical events that sometimes permitted and sometimes persecuted the religions, philosophies, and sciences we have come to call ?magic.? In this course you will study not only mythical Bohemia but also post-reformation Bohemia and the practice of magic during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II in the discourse of heresy. We will concern ourselves primarily with how the practice of magic affected politics and religion as well as with how politics and religion affected the practice of magic. You will also expand your knowledge of the history of Bohemia and the city of Prague and it will give you some ideas about ?magic? influence on the modern Czech culture such as Czech Puppet Theatre or literature.


    1. Old Czech mythology and the ?national revival?: Medieval chronicles. Cultural memory
    2. Prague legends : Genius loci of Prague. The Headless Templar
    3. Pagan traditions: Attributes of saints
    4. The Castle - Power and defense : Castle as a center of mediavel power
    5. Rudolf II. And the Occult Arts : Kabbalah
    6. Prague Mannerism and the Magic Universe : Astrological Debate of Rudolf II.
    7. Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague
    8. Baroque Devotion in the Landscape : Pilgrimage and Baroque religious festivity. Recatolisation. Witch ? hunt.
    9. Czech Puppet Theater : the Cradle of Czech Animation. Puppets turned into film stars
    10. Farewell to the Modern Era: Kundera and Culture

    1. R. J. W. Evans, ?Prague Mannerism and the Magic Universe,? in: idem, Rudolf II and His World. A study in intellectual history, 1576-1612, Oxford 1973.
    2. PUTÍK, Alexandr, ed. a DEMETZ, Peter. Path of life: Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel: ca. 1525- 1609. 1st ed. Prague: Academia, 2009.
    3. ROZENBERG, Yehudah Yudl. The golem and the wondrous deeds of the Maharal of Prague. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
    4. SHERWIN, Byron L. Mystical theology and social dissent: the life and works of Judah Loew of Prague. 1st digital-on-demand ed. Oxford: Littman Library, 2006.
    5. Václav Cílek, Prague Between History and Dreams, Bloomington 2004.
    6. Josef V. Poli?enský, History of Czechoslovakia in Outline, Praha: Bohemia International, 1991.
    7. Ancient Bohemian Legends by Alois Jirásek
    8. Neruda, Jan. Prague Tales.
    9. DUBSKÁ, Alice et al. Czech Puppet Theatre yesterday and today. 1st ed. In Prague: Theatre Institute, 2006.
    10. Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, transl. Lisa Wolverton, Washington 2009.
    11. Peter Demetz, ?Libussa, or Versions of Origin,? in: Prague in Black and Gold: The history of a city, Penguin Books, 1998.
    12. Vladimír Macura, ?Problems and paradoxes of the national revival,? in: Bohemia in History, ed. Mikulá? Teich, Cambridge University Press 1998.
    13. Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, Princeton 1998.
    14. The Czech National Identity: Basic Results of the 1995 National Survey, ALENA NEDOMOVÁ and TOMÁS KO?TELECKÝ, Czech Sociological Review, Vol. 5, No. 1 (SPRING 1997).
    15. Vladislav Dudák, Prague Pilgrim, or Prague from every side, Praha : Baset, 1995.
    16. Robert Bireley, Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450?1700, New York 1999.
    17. Religion: An Unsolved Problem for the Modern Czech Nation, OLGA NE?POROVÁ and ZDEN?K R. NE?POR, Sociologický ?asopis / Czech Sociological Review, Vol. 45, No. 6 (DECEMBER 2009).
    18. KUNDERA, Milan. The book of laughter and forgetting. London: Faber and Faber, 2000, 1996.
    19. Farewell to the Modern Era: Kundera on Culture, Sarah Rothenberg, World Policy Journal, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Summer, 1996).
    20. Mr. Kundera, the European, Ivan Sanders, The Wilson Quarterly (1976-), Vol. 15, No. 2 (Spring, 1991).
    21. Destiny as Alibi: Milan Kundera, Václav Havel and the 'Czech Question' after 1968, TIM WEST, The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 87, No. 3 (July 2009).

    • Faust
    • Der Golem
    • Hammer for Witches
    • Paracelsus

    Course evaluation
    • Participation 20%
    • Class discussions 20%
    • Midterm exam 20%
    • Presentation of the research/case 20%
    • Term paper and research 20%

    Each student is expected to write and present a topic/case which in turn is designed to help student
    gain experience in how to conduct research and analysis of a specific topic. Presentation of the
    topic/case should improve the communication skills of students. The topic/case will be decided and
    agreed in the 4th week (a list will be offered), each student will submit a one-page typed topic
    proposal by week 6 (brief description of the problem and target region, country or company, proposed
    method of investigation and resources of literature). The presentations are due on the 11th and 12th
    week. Presentations of the research/report should last about 15 minutes, will be graded and will be
    made and discussed during class. Final version of the paper should not exceed 10 double spaced pages
    of text, excluding tables and graphs and appendices and will be handed out in printed form and
    electronic version e-mailed December 11, 2012. Final paper (Title, author name, course name, date,
    acknowledgement, introduction, main body of the report, conclusions, bibliography)