Countercultures in Late Socialist Central Europe

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Course Open to: 
Students on-site
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Course Description: 

The course offers an introduction into the major trends in the theory of sub-cultures and countercultures and an overview of the main developments in East-Central Europe from the 1960s to the post-communist transition. It seeks to offer a synoptic view of the developments in these countries, focusing on the alternative musical scene in the sense of a Gesamtkunstwerk, i.e. analyzing its complex linkages to other art branches, especially alternative theatre and performance art, film, and literature. The course intends to place these movements into their respective socio-cultural settings, paying attention to both the local political and artistic contexts and traditions but also the trans-national cultural mediation of styles and ideas. It will tackle questions like the emergence of generational sub-cultures, the relationship of Samizdat/opposition groups and the art sub-cultures, the reconstruction of contemporary aesthetic and sociological debates on counter-culture, or the “ethnic revivals” of the 1970s and 1980s. I have offered this course, co-directed with Balázs Trencsényi already a few times in the past decade, concentrating each time on a different field (music, theatre, film, avantgarde art, secret service observation). Balázs Trencsényi has accepted to be a guest at a few seminars and we will also have some other external participants from Vienna.

Learning Outcomes: 

Getting familiar with the subject and the related anthropological and psychological theories.


Term paper.