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Yale Summer Session in Prague: In Kafka's Spirit: Prague Film and Fiction

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Program Information


Prague, Czech Republic




Saturday, June 27, 2020 to Sunday, August 2, 2020



Area of Focus

Arts & Humanities

Distributional Requirements

Fulfills Hu distributional requirement


Study Center

Course Number



2 Yale credits


Karen von Kunes 




An introduction to Prague’s intellectual culture and the Jewish question through contemporary film, fiction, history, language, sightseeing, and students’ film projects (screenwriting, acting, making short films) and traveling. Travels in the Czech Republic and selected countries of former Austro-Hungary (Vienna, Budapest, Piran, and Trieste). Emphasis is on Kafka's influence on today's Prague, Holocaust period, Communist state, dissident movement, transition from totalitarianism to democracy, and current multi-ethnic globalism. Works include analyzing films by Miloš Forman (Loves of a Blond, Firemen's Ball), Jan Kadár (Shop on the Main Street), Jan Svěrák (Kolya), Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall), and readings by Franz Kafka, Holocaust writer Arnošt Lustig, Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, and Václav Havel. Includes guest lectures by prominent cultural, economic, or sport Prague leaders. Under the supervision and critical advice of cinematographers Josef Lustig, Gary Griffin, Alice Arnold, and the renowned film director Jan Hřebejk, each student will complete a creative project of his or her choice (short film based on students’ screenplay, or short story, theatre play, etc.), working in groups or individually.

*A comprehensive introduction to conversational Czech, is also an integral part of the program. Yale College students who perform exceptionally in the language may qualify for placement in L2 or L3 Czech language upon returning for the Fall term, however, an option of enrolling in Elementary Czech I (L1) during the Fall term would remain open as well.

As this is not a language course, it will not count toward fulfilling Yale's Foreign Language Requirement.  

*Participants with elementary knowledge of Czech may be eligible to receive private tutoring.

Participants choose to receive credit in either CZEC or FILM at the time of application.

The class will meet Monday - Thursday from 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. for an introduction to conversational Czech, followed by a 30 minute break. From 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. film and fiction will be covered. Students should expect about 3 hours of work outside the classroom each day, as well excursions and other program activities.

The syllabus below a previous summer and contains dates that differ from those of the upcoming summer.

The shedule below is preliminary and may differ from the final version.


Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad updates program budgets in late January. Please note the year listed on the button below.

Summer 2020 Budget

Trips and Activities

The program includes lectures on Prague cultural history, the Holocaust, visits to the Prague Old Jewish Town and Cemetery, Synagogues, former Terezinstadt Concentration camp near Prague, and others. Writing a film screenplay and making a short film is an integral part of the program, as well as learning basic Czech. To understand cultural history of the former Austro-Hungary Empire, students visit Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), in addition to the ancient city of Piran (Slovenia) and its beaches in Slovenia and undertake a brief excursion to Trieste (Italy). Within the Czech Republic the program includes visits of the Karlovy Vary 53rd International Film Festival, of a picturesque historic town of Český Krumlov (boating and swimming), a trip to Moravia caves, and day excursions to Kutna Hora, and the Ossuary, and an evening boat trip on the Vltava River. For recreational purposes and meeting local Czechs independent visits to the Vltava River beaches in Prague are encouraged.


While in Prague, participants will stay in a local student residence hall, KDS, in the city center (a 5-minute walk from famed Old Town Square or Wenceslas Square) with an outdoor patio. All rooms have a wifi connection, as well a fan. The classroom is located in the same student KDS residential complex. A gym and other sport clubs are available for a small rental fee and are located within 5-10 minute walk from the Prague dorm. Breakfast is served in a Café—within a 3-minute walk from the KDS dorm. The KDS dorm is also equipped with refrigerators and basic cooking facilities.

While traveling on overnight trips, participants stay in comfortable to luxury hotels and share rooms; in Piran all rooms face the sea and beach. All rooms have a wifi connection, as well as either fans or AC (in Budapest, Piran).

All breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 16 dinners are included in the cost of housing. 


Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and are expected to arrive in Prague on the first day of the program, and depart no earlier than the last day of the program (see 'Dates' above); additional information will be provided upon admission.


For course content questions contact instructor Karen von Kunes. For general program questions contact the Study Abroad staff.

Learn More

Review eligibility requirements, the application process, and deadlines:

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