Havel at Columbia

Havel at Columbia CUArts Initiative

Access: Open to all
Released: September 2006

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Havel at Columbia is a multimedia resource that features video interviews with a range of scholars and friends of Vaclav Havel, including Lisa Anderson, George Soros, Brad Abrams, and Chris Harwood, who contribute their insights into his legacy as an artist and political leader. The website also contains a wide range of material about Havel's life and art, including a timeline of events, image glossary, and archival films.

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Project Details

The Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, in partnership with the Columbia University Arts Initiative, released the Havel at Columbia site, a resource to support former Czech President Václav Havel’s seven-week residency on campus during the Fall 2006 semester.

As an artist, thinker, essayist, human rights leader and political leader, Václav Havel is one of the most significant cultural and political figures of our time. On December 29, 1989 he was elected president of a united and democratic Czechoslovakia. His residency at Columbia was his first extended stay in New York since stepping down from office in early 2003. While he was on campus, the University community paid tribute to his life and ideas with a number of lectures, symposia, screenings, and panel discussions.

The Havel at Columbia site contains a wide range of teaching and learning materials for classroom study of Havel’s life and art, growing throughout the semester as events and materials were added. The multimedia resource features video interviews with scholars, artists, and political figures contributing their insights on Václav Havel’s legacy as an artist and political leader, including Dean Lisa Anderson from the School of International and Public Affairs, former President George H. W. Bush, Edward Albee, Milos Forman, Lou Reed, and George Soros. A timeline of events, an image glossary with photographs and primary documents, and archival footage from television and films provide historical context for the Velvet Revolution and Havel’s presidency, making the site a rich educational resource beyond his campus residency. The site features video recordings of the many lectures, performances, and presentations that took place throughout the residency. These are available to view online and downloadable as podcasts.

Courses that used the Havel at Columbia site during the Fall ‘06 semester included “History, Literature, Film and Dissent in Eastern European Culture,” an undergraduate seminar by Brad Abrams and Christopher Harwood and a multidisciplinary course at Barnard co-taught by Cathy Nepomnyashchy with theater lecturer Amy Trompetter that included a study and performance of Havel’s play The Beggar’s Opera. Anne Bogart focused on the political theater of Clifford Odets and Havel in her graduate MFA course “Directing III.” In addition, Literature Humanities students studied Havel’s play The Garden Party, Havel delivered a lecture to the Core Curriculum’s Contemporary Civilization course, for which students read his essay “Dear Dr. Husák.”

To allow instructors to create a more customized experience of the site for their courses, CCNMTL introduced a new feature called the Havel Notebook. Any Columbia University faculty member or student with a UNI can log in to organize their own resources from the site by saving and annotating text, images, and links to a personalized page, or “notebook.” Developed in coordination with faculty partners from the Harriman Institute, School of the Arts, and Barnard College, these notebooks can be shared with others, making them especially useful for classes that are using the Havel at Columbia site as a resource.

Related news:
Dec-2011: Remembering Havel
Dec-2009: Open Culture Features Havel at Columbia
Dec-2006: Havel at Columbia Podcasts Featured on iTunes
Nov-2006: CCNMTL's Work on Havel Site Featured on Columbia Home Page
Oct-2006: Havel at Columbia Site Released to Support Václav Havel's Residency
Oct-2006: Press Release: Havel at Columbia Site Released

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