The Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and Jewish Literature was established in 2010 at the Department of Czech Literature and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University. It is involved in literature studies related to Shoah and Jewish culture and literature in the Czech Lands and Central Europe and is active also in the field of Israel Studies and socio-cultural qualitative research into contemporary Jewish communities in the EU. In September 2020, the Centre held the international annual conference of the European Association of Israel Studies (based at University of London), with 160 active participants from all over the world.
The most important publication so far has been the extensive collectively written monograph of more than 1000 pages Cizí i blízcí (Close and Foreign), which deals with how Jewishness in Czech literature and culture has been portrayed during the “long” twentieth century. Nine authors have contributed to the study, which offers the most thorough involvement with this topic to this day.
The Centre cooperates with several international partners on a number of projects. We have worked together for a long time with Justus Liebig University in Gießen, Germany. Currently, our main partners are the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East-Central Europe in Marburg, Germany and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. Other key partners include Tel Aviv University; Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum (University of Postdam); and Comenius University Bratislava. Main partners in the Czech Republic are the Institute of Czech Literature at the Academy of Sciences, the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Centre for Jewish Studies at Palacký University in Olomouc and the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.
Since 2010, we have organized a series of workshops with our German and Polish colleagues focusing on fiction and documentary literature devoted to the Holocaust in Central Europe. To our knowledge, this is the only international cooperation of such kind in Europe.
The Centre is currently focusing, with the exception of individual research papers, on two main areas. The first is the research of antisemitism, the Jewish population in Central Europe and the conceptualization of Jewishness in literature and culture. Research into this area takes place within the framework of the project “United in Diversity – An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary European Jewry and Its Reflection” supported by Erasmus+ Program, Key Action 2: Strategic Partnerships Grant awarded by the Czech National Agency acting under delegation by the European Commission. The Centre cooperates on this project with the above-mentioned universities from Israel, Germany, and Slovakia with Charles University as the main project coordinator and grant applicant. The second area of research is constituted by an extensive international project titled “Handbook of Polish, Czech and Slovak Holocaust Fiction. Works and Contexts.” The 650 pages long publication in English is being prepared in cooperation with literary scholars from Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. The publication is envisioned to serve as a standard handbook for universities and academia and will be published by De Gruyter in spring 2021.
Members of the Center are teaching courses on Jewish culture and Israel in both Czech and English. Among these are “Jewish Motives and Antisemitism in Czech Literature I-II;” “The Topic of the Shoa in Central European Literatures I-II“, “The Holocaust in Czech and Slovak Feature Films” (in English), “The Holocaust in Film Adaptations” (in English), “Israel’s Diverse Society: Ethnicity, Gender and Religion” (in English), and “Czech-Israeli Literary, Cultural, and Diplomatic Crossroads in 20th and 21st Century.”
Numerous theses on Jewish literature and the Holocaust have been defended at the Institute of Czech Literature and Comparative Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University. Four doctoral dissertations and several master’s and bachelor’s theses are currently in progress.
The Centre is not only active in Prague. Members of the Centre are organizing Yiddish cultural events in České Budějovice. Since 2015, they were preparing Yiddish evenings at literary café “Měsíc ve dne” during Jewish festivals and a Yiddish Translation course is held for the interested public at the same café every Monday.
You can see a full report on ten years activities here: Report_Activities_10yrs_CSHJL (1)
The Centre communicates with both scholars and the general public through its website, it publishes news and some of its publications:
We also have a Facebook page with more than 1700 followers:
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