Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Nationalism, Totalitarianism and Democratization: Czechoslov
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  70%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour supplementary (resit) examination  70%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
a) Identify and explain the key historiographical debates concerning the place of Czechoslovakia in European history
b) Demonstrate their knowledge of national identity, Stalinism, Communist reformism, post-Stalinism and dissent in Czechoslovakia.
c) Reflect critically on the nature of `totalitarianism' and of `civil society'.
d) Analyse and evaluate a range of primary sources related to the ideas and activities of `Reform Communists' and dissidents in Caechoslovakia.
e) Gather and sift appropriate items of historical evidence
f) Develop and sustain historical arguments - in both oral (not assessed) and written work
g) Work both independently and collaboratively whilst being able to participate in group discussions (not assessed).

Brief description

This module addresses the character of government, dissent and opposition in Czechoslovakia. It is concerned with five key problems. First, it expores the establishment and changing nature of Communist rule, distinguishing between the phases of Stalinism, of 'socialism with a human face' and of 'late socialism'. Second, it discusses the relationship between Czechoslovak society and its rulers, engaging with the endeavours of independent dissident movements to generate a sense of active citizenship and to 'empower the powerless' in a totalitarian state. Third, it examines the causes of the collapse of Communist rule and the problems of transition which faced Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Fourth, it asks why - in spite of the wishes of the majority of the population - Czechoslovakia was broken up in the aftermath of Communist dictatorship. Finally, how was national identity constructed and what meanings were attached to national history in Czechoslovakia?
The module is designed to alert students to the variety of sources available to contemporary historians, and in particular to the problems historians encounter in seeking to understand closed societies in which there is no freedom of expression, and thus no such thing as public opinion. It draws on samizdat documents and literature, memoirs, and the writings of Czechoslovaks who emigrated in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of their country in 1968.


1. Introduction
2. The Making of Czechoslovakia
3. The First Czechoslovak Republic and its Destruction: 1918-1944
4. The Origins and Development of the Czechoslovak Communist Party
5. From Democracy to Communist Dictatorship, 1945-1948
6. The Stalinist Regime, 1948-1962
7. Origins of the Prague Spring
8. 'Socialism with a Human Face'? 1968
9. The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia
10. 'Normalization'
11. 'Actually Existing Socialism': Communism without Ideology, 1969-1989
12. Dissent and Charter '77 i): organisation and impact
13. Dissent and Charter '77 ii): 'The Power of the Powerless' – the dissidents’ ideas
14. The Causes of the Velvet Revolution
15. The Course of the Velvet Revolution, 1989
16. The Break-up of Czechoslovakia, 1990-1993
17. 'The Deserts and Coasts of Bohemia': When, Where and What was Czechoslovakia?
18. Conclusions: Constructs of Identity, Myths of Martyrdom and Strategies of Survival

1. Czechoslovakia, the Second World War and its Aftermath
2. The Stalinization of Czechoslovakia, 1945-1962
3. The 'Prague Spring', 1968: Reform Rule in a Communist State
4. 'Post-totalitarianism': The Normalised Regime and Dissent, 1969-1988
5. From Velvet Revolution to the Fragmentation of Czechoslovakia, 1989-1993


This module is at CQFW Level 4