CfA – Interdisciplinary summer course “Urban governance and civic participation in words and stone. Urbanism in Central Europe 1200-1600” at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary with field trips to Brno and Prague, July 11–19, 2022

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The aim of the summer university course is threefold. First, to critically examine the notion of civic participation in a long-term perspective, its foundations in political thought and to explore its forms of expression in various written and visual media.  Second, to bring Central Europe to the limelight and open new interdisciplinary perspectives for young scholars interested in art history, social history, pragmatic literacy and urban planning. Third, to consider issues of preservation, protection and the value of conceptual and built heritage for modern societies.  

The course will consist of four types of activities: (1) thematic lectures given by one of the faculty members, (2) workshops analyzing a specific type of written or visual evidence under the guidance of two or three faculty members, (3) thematic city walks in Budapest, Brno and Prague, visiting sites and buildings exemplifying the issues discussed in the lectures and workshops, guided by course faculty and other resource persons, and (4) seminars where participants of the course present their research topics and receive feedback. The key topics include (a) the urbanization of Central Europe and the topography of governance; (b) the legal background of urban autonomy; (c) secular architecture and the display of authority; (d) sacred architecture and civic identity; (e) civic participation and municipal administration.  

The aims and methods of this course are closely aligned with current scholarly trends. Cities and towns have been the subject of historical, archaeological and architectural investigations, as well as studies on political thought. These studies have generated debates on the creation and growth of towns; on the role of seigniorial power, civic initiatives and external forces in these processes; and on the role of migration, colonization and cultural transfer in the spread of urbanization – just to name a few. The contribution of this course to the ongoing debates will be to link closely the administrative and spatial/architectural aspects, and to place Central Europe centre stage in a broader comparative perspective. 

The novelty of our course will be to closely link the administrative and spatial/architectural aspects and to concentrate on Central Europe from a comparative perspective.  

Accepted participants will have a 3-day field trip to Brno and Prague (4 nights’ accommodation and travel will be covered for them). 

Financial aid is available.  

Application deadline: February 28, 2022 

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