Lecture:  ‘Art and Life in Modernist Prague: Karel Čapek and his Generation, 1911-1938’

Tuesday, April 8th at 7:00pm — Dr. Thomas Ort —

In most histories of Europe before the First World War, modern life in Habsburg Mitteleuropa takes on a decidedly gloomy cast. Centering on Vienna in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such accounts describe the failure of rationalism and the rise of a dangerous politics of fantasy.

This book tells a different story, highlighting a generation of Czech writers and artists distinguished by their affirmative encounter with the modern world in the first decades of the twentieth century. Novelist and playwright Karel Čapek, along with other members of his cohort, embraced the possibilities of the post-Habsburg era. Tracing the roots of Čapek’s generation to cubist art and turn-of-the-century philosophy, author Thomas Ort shows that the form of modernism they championed led not into the thickets of fascism or communism but in fact closer to liberal political ideals.

Speaker:  Dr. Thomas Ort

Thomas Ort is assistant professor of modern European history at Queens College–The City University of New York. He received his PhD in 2005 from New York University, with a specialization in the cultural and intellectual history of East-Central Europe. The main focus of his research has been modernist and avant-garde life in early twentieth-century Czechoslovakia, but his most recent work concerns the politics of memory in postwar Eastern Europe.

He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies. His book “Art and Life in Modernist Prague: Karel Čapek and his Generation, 1911-1938” was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.

Date: Tuesday, April 8th @ 7pm

Location:  3rd Floor Sokol Hall

Forum:  Skype from New York