Monsters, Madmen and the Modern City: Prague

Prague is a city rich with history, mystery and stunning visuals. On this program, you will take two compelling literature courses intimately linked to the beautiful and brooding city in which they are taught. You will learn about the original literary vampire, pacts with the devil and the play that brought the world the term “robot”. You will examine Prague as both a cinematic setting and a center for filmmaking and animation. In addition, you will explore the macabre, the human and inhuman in the home of Faust and Kafka.

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity:

  • to study the city of Prague and the importance of location, the sense of place, and the way issues are worked out in the "Gothic Imagination" perspective
  • to develop critical reflections on the social history of science, and the ways in which the human imagination has responded to ideas about what it is to be human
  • to participate in excursions to Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora and Terezin concentration camp

Intercultural Learning Objectives:

  • Develop cultural self-awareness and knowledge of cultural worldview frameworks (Knowledge);
  • Develop an understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication styles and learn to successfully adapt in various presented cultural contexts (Skills);
  • Develop the ability to engage and learn from perspectives and experiences different from one’s own (Skills);
  • Learn to exercise curiosity and openness in interactions with other cultures (Attitudes);
  • Develop transferrable and personal leadership skills (Skills, Attitudes). 

Learning objectives are based on the AAC&U VALUE rubrics for Global Learning and Intercultural Knowledge and Competence

The "Golden City" of Prague has beautiful architecture, vibrant culture, and a deep history. The ancient city of Krakow, untouched by WWII, will welcome you with its cobblestone streets, Gothic cathedrals, museums, and cozy restaurants. Located at the heart of Europe, Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic with an area of 496 km2 and is home to 1,200,000 people. The year 1870, when Prague castle was established, is regarded as the beginning of the city's existence.  In 1918, at the end of World War I, Prague was declared the capital of a new country of the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1993 it became the capital of an independent Czech Republic.

Where You'll Live: 

In Prague, youwill live in shared apartments with 2-6 people per apartment and 2-3 people per bedroom. The apartments are conveniently located in downtown Prague. You will have the opportunity to experience the incredible architecture and natural beauty of the city during your short commute to class. Prague is small (for a major European city), and a transportation pass is included in the cost of your program. Final apartment address will be finalized later in the spring semester and addresses provided a few weeks before departure.. You can expect the following with your accommodations:

  • 2-6 people per apartment
  • 2-3 people per bedroom
  • Kitchen with pots, pans, silverware and cooking utensils
  • Living Room w/ basic furnishings
  • En-Suite bathroom
  • In-Unit washer
  • Air-conditioning
  • Wi-Fi
  • Linens included

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions. 

What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 6 credits on the Monsters, Madmen and the Modern City: Prague program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same two courses taught by Pitt faculty members Jeff Aziz and Uma Satyavolu. The course will be taught in English and it will be comprised of lectures, city tours, cultural activities and excursions. In this course you will study:

  • The city of Prague and the importance of location, the sense of place, and the way issues are worked out in the “Gothic Imagination” perspective
  • The macabre, the human and the inhuman in the home of Faust and Kafka
  • The original literary vampire, pacts with the devil and the play that brought us the word “robot”

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you.

Literature and Science Prague: An Anatomy of the World (ENGLIT0612)

 the Prague course, has a meditation on the religious/sacramental body that evolves into a reflection on the anatomical/surgical body and finally to the “human mechanism” that is specific to where we are. The course focuses on the history of a particular place, a region, a set of political concerns. This course will be a critical reflection on the social history of science, on the ways in which the human imagination has responded to ideas about what it is to be human that have emerged from the sciences. The objects of our study will be literary and artistic. Because of our setting here in Prague, this will be a multimedia course, incorporating written texts, visual images, and a number of relevant films (including the work of Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer). In the home of real Franz Kafka and the semi-mythical Johann Faust, in the city where the surrealist playwright Karel Čapek coined the “robot,” we will encounter humans saintly, sinful, and synthetic. Animals, too.

The Gothic Imagination (ENGLIT0636)

Most definitions of The Gothic begin by describing it as a reaction to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, and Italy is the locus, and focus, of so much of the anxiety emerging from the  Enlightenment’s discourse of reason against “superstition” as well as (Protestant) England’s simultaneous fear of and fascination with Catholic Europe (Italy and Spain).  Many of the emerging anxieties and repressed desires of Enlightenment England/France are expressed and examined in the subversive “Gothic” texts: anxieties about the place of the imagination in the face of the emphasis on the “rational,” for instance; about the fear of female desire for agency and equality in the Age of Revolution; about the Orientalist suspicion of the lure of the “foreign(er)”/”Eastern(er),” and so on.
 Given the location of the course, I view this iteration of the course as an opportunity to focus on the importance of location, the sense of place, in the way the issues are worked out in the “Gothic Imagination.” Being anchored in Prague, the city in Central Europe looking both ways to the East and the West, the city at the crossroads of of the emergence of secular humanism and religious dispute, we will be able to explore both the myth of “Gothic Italy” as represented in The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho, and the more complicated historical reality. Radcliffe’s novel, in particular, is an excellent example of the division between England/France as spaces of the Enlightenment; Italy and places east—Budapest, Transylvania—are, by contrast associated with the mysterious, menacing East represented by Dracula.  Prague Castle will be our representative space for a wide-ranging exploration of the themes. We will investigate the extent to which locus and habitus (as defined by Bourdieu: “a set of dispositions which generate practices and perceptions”) are related in the development of the Gothic Imagination.

The University of Pittsburgh partners with CET Academic Programs on this program. CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. The CET Center is in the heart of Prague. The Center houses classrooms, offices for the program staff, a library, and a small computer lab with wifi access. Modern and up-to-date inside, the building itself has Gothic origins updated with Baroque styles in the 17th century. When you’re not working and learning at your internship, you can study or enjoy your lunch at the open-air patio in the courtyard. 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Oksana Stalczynski

Privet! I'm Oksana Stalczynski and I'm a Program Manager at the Global Experiences Office. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, was an exchange student and Russian Language Scholar at Reed College in Portland, OR and did a summer language program in Dresden, Germany. Global experiences broaden your horizon, grow your circle of friends and improve your career opportunities. That’s why I think everyone should do one!

Feel free to contact me to find out more about global experiences programs at Pitt, and/or to learn/practice some Russian.


Schedule an appointment

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Your In-Country Contacts: 

Jeff Aziz

Jeff Aziz is a Senior Lecturer and Advisor in the English department. Jeff refers to see culture in the round, exploring the manner in which literary, religious, artistic, dramatic, and scientific representation are richly connected and interdependent.  An undergraduate at heart, he is interested in many disciplinary areas.  He teaches courses on Shakespeare, early modern literature, drama, museum studies, religious studies, and the cultural history of science, medicine, and anatomy, often in curious combinations.  He is interested in the history of radical liberatory movements from the late medieval to modernity, from the Anabaptists to the modern political Left.  His interest in the artistic/literary representation of the human body extends from religious allegory and iconography, to the body in drama, to medical/anatomical bodies.  He designed and introduced the literature program’s Apocalypse and Literature and Science courses.

Jeff has worked to promote the place of the humanities in the university and to encourage collaboration across the disciplines.  He was a founding member of the Humanities at Pitt and served on the Dietrich School Humanities Council.  He currently serves in the Working Group on the Medical Humanities.  He is an affiliated member of the Medical Humanities and Jewish Studies faculties, and is a Faculty Fellow of the University Honors College.

Uma Satyavolu Rau

Uma Satyavolu Rau Lecturer II in the English Literature Department at the University of Pittsburgh She has taught at Pitt for over 12 years, and she enjoys most of all the range of courses she teaches, and the different kinds of students whom she encounters as a consequence.  Although her Ph. D dissertation was based  mainly on the relation between the Scottish Enlightenment idea of “Civilization” and its influence on imperialism in Nineteenth Century culture/literature,  she takes great pleasure in introducing students to texts ranging from the Gilgamesh to the graphic novel in courses at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum.  In courses ranging from Introduction to Literature; and Reading Poetry to Immigrant Literature;  from The Gothic Imagination; to Victorian Novel to the History and Politics of the English Language, she has tried to encourage students to learn to read closely, and see the texts in their conatext.  Her secret ambition is to teach her way through every undergraduate course on the English Department catalogue. Her current overmastering intellectual passion is Indo-European/Sanskrit poetics, and perhaps as a result, in literary and cultural tropes which cross over  linguistic/geographical boundaries. She is interested in the way languages/texts/ideas travel between and circulate among different peoples and countries, which naturally gives her a keen interest in translation in every form. She believes that every act of reading is a translation, and that every course is an opportunity for her to act as an interpreter or translator between texts and students. To introduce the students to the text and the idea, and to see students become immersed in it is her greatest pleasure as a teacher. She considers something like  “Thank you for making me read Middlemarch! It is now my favorite book ever” the highest compliment she could receive.

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Program Cost $5,699 $5,899
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $5,999 $6,199

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~$1,500
Meals and Personal Expenses ~$1,000 


Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad. Visit our Budgeting page for more information.


What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition - 6 credits
  • Housing
  • Program-related site visits and excursions 
  • International Health Insurance