UPCES Art History Courses

Here you'll find the full list of UPCES courses related to Art History. Please note that all course offerings are subject to change or cancelation based on faculty availability and student enrollment. All course subjects must be approved by your home institution for departmental credit.

Each course includes a detailed description, any cross-listed departments, and a downloadable syllabus.

Art, Architecture and Propaganda Under Socialism


Art, Architecture, and Propaganda under Socialism explores how ideologies informed and keep informing visual aspects of art and architecture produced before and after the Velvet Revolution in what is now the Czech Republic.  We look at individual pieces of art, architecture and material culture, propaganda posters and excerpts from movies, and search for ways in which they are in/formed by different ideologies. We do this both in class and on our field trips around Prague. The course will enhance your understanding of (not just) the totalitarian period of local history using pieces of visual culture; you will learn to analyze visual material and will understand the importance of concepts such as modernity, modernism and ideology.

Art History and Spiritual Values in Central Europe
[ART HISTORY, 3 credits]


This course introduces students through field study to the most beautiful artistic and architectural monuments of Prague and teaches them to interpret their characteristics in the context of art history and culture in Central Europe. Special attention is paid to the question of how the development of spiritual and societal values throughout history has influenced architectural and artistic trends. Shared values have always had a major influence on the shape of art and architecture, and Prague represents a unique collection in this sense. Through presentations followed by guided tours of the most representative sites, students learn not only to recognize the main artistic styles, but also to read and interpret the values they represent.

Central European History:Textual and Visual Representations


This course will introduce the participants to the crucial phenomena of Central European history and culture. While the turmoils of the twentieth century are covered by several UPCES courses, this class concentrates on tracing the foundations of contemporary identities and the roots of modern complexity. It covers Central European history from its origins to WWI, dealing with a wide range of topics such as chivalry and courtly culture, the Reformation and confessional conflicts, or nationalism and revolutions. All these subjects witness the evolution of social order, the search for ideal political systems, transformation of intellectual paradigms, and changes in artistic sensibilities. Every topic is studied through both key texts and emblematic images which facilitate the explanation of typical features of the given period. Close reading of sources and iconographical analysis is accompanied by extracts from films and excursions to museums and historical sites. The course will provide students with an understanding of the development of Euro-American culture and the milestones of medieval and early modern history. It will also enhance students’ interpretative skills and the competence to “read” specific cultural products which emanated from contexts quite different from their own background.

Contemporary Art Odyssey in Prague
[ART HISTORY, 3 credits]


This course aims to bridge the gap between art and society, offering a unique interdisciplinary perspective on Prague's contemporary art scene. We will traverse museums, galleries, and art exhibited in public sphere to unravel the stories embedded in each artwork, exploring the intersections between artistic expression, societal values, and cultural identity.

Throughout the course, we will employ cultural and sociological frameworks to analyze and interpret the encountered artworks, while also examining the pivotal role of local art institutions and the public sphere in fostering dialogue with the audience. Discussions, reflections, critical analyses, and field research will be integral components of this course, encouraging students to ponder the societal implications – both at the local and global levels – of the art they encounter. Each class meeting will feature a blend of lectures and field trips to museums, galleries, and public art spaces in Prague. These excursions will provide firsthand experiences, enabling students to connect theoretical concepts studied in class with real-world examples. Guest speakers from the local art community will enrich our discussions with diverse perspectives. Get ready for an intellectually stimulating and visually captivating odyssey through the artful streets of Prague!

Gothic, Baroque, Modern: Arts in Bohemian Culture


This course will survey the visual arts—including some photography and film—and architecture in the Czech Lands since the Middle Ages through the 20th century, with an emphasis on the last 150 years or so. That is still a lot of material, so we shall concentrate, as far as possible on the artifacts available in Prague that we can go and see for ourselves. Throughout, we shall not cover only the Czech artists, but also other nationals who either worked in the Czech Lands, or were highly influential here. Thus we shall cover the work of the French, Bavarian and Italian artists and architects during the Gothic and Baroque times, such as the Dientzenhofers or Arcimboldo; the influence of the Norwegian painter Edward Munch on the Czech art around the 1900; the relations between the Czech and the French surrealists; etc. etc. We shall also situate art within a larger context of social and intellectual history, seeing, in particular, how nationalism, religion and ideology shaped the development of Czech art and architecture. Last but not least, we shall notice the specificities of stylistic developments in Czech art, such as the recurrences of the elements of Gothic and Baroque in the Czech versions of Art Nouveau and Cubism.

Prague as a Living History: Anatomy of a European Capital


This course and accompanying excursions will introduce students to the history of the Czech Republic and its capital city, Prague, while also showing the development of its urban structures and main social functions. By using the city of Prague as a classroom, students will gain a deeper understanding of the particularities and intricacies of urban life as it evolved through centuries. Excursions to other urban sites in the Czech Republic will allow students to compare various types of cities and their development, typical of continental European culture.