Category Archives: seminars

A History of Quantification: Problems and Perspectives in Central Europe

Date: Thursdays, at 9:30 am
Place: Online, room YT211, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University
Lecturer: Mátyás Erdélyi (CEFRES / FHS UK)
Language: English

Our task in this course is to explore the application and diffusion of statistical thinking in Central Europe in the long nineteenth century. Statistical thinking is not merely investigated as an academic discipline, but the course will look at practical uses of statistical methods ranging from the public sphere to the private economy that constantly exploited advances in statistical mathematics and probability theory. It thus plans to reconcile specific forms of statistical knowledge about society and economy with their equally diverse forms of application by natural and social scientists, private and public clerks, and other intellectuals.

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Seminar “Reflection on crises” – 2020

Current Issues. Reflection on Crises

A seminar of the Institute for International Studies of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, and CEFRES

Organizers: Jérôme Heurtaux (CEFRES) and Maria Kokkinou (postdoctoral researcher, CEFRES / Charles University)
When: Fall Semester, Wednesdays, 12:30 – 1:50 pm
Where: Online, upon registration. Please contact the organizers: maria.kokkinou(@)
Language: French

Seminar presentation:

The crisis has the wind in its sails: due to the appearance and extensive spread of Covid-19 in 2020, this concept has regained a world-wide attention, not observed since the financial crisis of 2009. Apart from these spectacular moments of global turmoil, we can no longer count the events or phenomena that are described as crises.

A concept inextricably linked to modernity, a “crisis” (pre)occupies our societies in all its dimensions. The polysemic uses of the term and its very topicality prompt us to revisit this concept, its different meanings and uses. This seminar course is devoted to this task. It will involve the intervention of researchers from various disciplines – political sociology, history, art history, anthropology, philosophy, etc.

What realities are qualified as “crises” and in which ways are they critical? What is a crisis and how to explain its emergence? How does a crisis unfold, what are its effects and consequences? Why do crises give rise to conflicts of interpretation over their meaning? Is the notion of crisis a central operator of our modernity and a key to understanding the challenges that contemporary societies face?


Wednesday, September 30th, 12:30 – 1:50
Introduction to the seminar
Maria Kokkinou, CEFRES / IMS FSV UK
Jérôme Heurtaux, Paris-Dauphine Université / CEFRES

Wednesday, October 7th, 12:30-1:50
Revolutions, Political Crises and Regime Changes
Jérôme Heurtaux, Paris-Dauphine Université / CEFRES

Wednesday, October 14th, 12:30-1:50
Economic Crisis and Political Changes in Greece in the 2010s
Dimitrios Kosmopoulos, Université Paris-Dauphine

Wednesday, October 21st, 12:30-1:50
Populism in Power and the Crisis of Democracy in Brazil
Felipe Fernandes, EHESS / CEFRES

Wednesday, November 4th, 12:30-1:50
1958, 1968 and 2002: Political Crises in France
Jérôme Heurtaux, Paris-Dauphine Université / CEFRES

Wednesday, November 11th, 12:30-1:50
Representing the Living World: Collapse of Ecosystems and Reconfiguration of Knowledge
Chiara Mengozzi, FF UK / CEFRES
Julien Wacquez, CEFRES

Wednesday, November 18th, 12:30-1:50
Denouncing the Economic Crisis through Photography
Fedora Parkmann, Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences / CEFRES

Wednesday, November 25th, 12:30-1:50
The making of crises in history: the case of inflation
Mátyás Erdélyi, CEFRES / UK

Wednesday, December 2nd, 12:30-1:50
“Here is a place that has left its place”: Memories of the Vanquished, Traces of Crises and Decolonial Wars
Michèle Baussant, CNRS / CEFRES

Wednesday, December 9th, 12:30-1:50
Crisis of Reading or Media Revolution?
Claire Madl, CEFRES

Wednesday, December 16th, 12:30-1:50
“Migration Crises” in the Light of History and Anthropology
Maria Kokkinou, CEFRES / IMS FSV UK
Florence Vychytil, EHESS/ CEFRES

Wednesday, January 6th, 12:30 – 1:50
Presentation of the Students’ work


Students read one text per week, sent in advance by the lecturer. They prepare a 5-page essay in French on a “crisis” not addressed during the class, based on at least three sources (1 academic and 2 non-academic ones).
The assignment must be turned in by January 4th 2021 and presented orally on January 6th during the last session (5 minutes each).


  • Arendt, Hannah, La crise de la culture, Paris, Gallimard, 1991.
  • Dobry, Michel, Sociologie des crises politiques, Paris, Presses de Sciences po, 1986.
  • Gaïti, Brigitte, « Les incertitudes des origines. Mai 1958 et la Ve République », Politix, n° 47, 1999, p. 27-62.
  • Gobille, Boris, « L’événement Mai 68. Pour une sociohistoire du temps court », Annales HSS, mars-avril 2008, n° 2, p. 321-349.
  • Grossman, Evelyne, La créativité de la crise, Paris, Minuit, 2020.
  • Heurtaux, Jérôme, Pologne 1989. Comment le communisme s’est effondré, Paris, Codex, 2019.
  • Lacroix, Bernard, « La ‘crise de la démocratie représentative en France’. Eléments pour une discussion sociologique du problème », Scalpel, vol. 1, 1994, p. 6-29.
  • Morin, Edgar, « Pour une crisologie », Communications, n° 91, 2012.
  • Politix, « Protagonisme et crises politiques », n° 112, vol. 8, 2015.
  • Revault d’Allonnes, Myriam, « Comment la crise vient à la philosophie », Esprit, n° 3, mars-avril 2012/3.
  • Revault d’Allonnes, Myriam, « Hannah Arendt penseur de la crise », Etudes, n° 4153, 2011.
  • Revault d’Allonnes, Myriam, La Crise sans fin : essai sur l’expérience moderne du temps, Paris, Seuil, 2012.
  • Ricoeur, Paul, « La crise : un phénomène spécifiquement moderne », Revue de théologie et de philosophie, n° 120, 1988.

Interdisciplinary perspectives on science fiction literature

Andrew Lincoln Nelson, “Plantimal 4”, 2016

Date and place : every Thursday at 9h10, room C17, Sociology Department, Charles University (Celetná 13, Praha 1)
Lecturer : Julien Wacquez (CEFRES/EHESS Paris)
Language : English

During the last decades, scholars within the Humanities and social sciences have shown a growing interest in science fiction literature. Unlike most overview studies concerning science fiction literature, in this course we will treat science-fiction not only as an object of investigation (is it possible to embrace the huge diversity of stories published under the label ‘science fiction’ as a whole? Is it possible to grasp it as just a ‘literature’ or should it be considered as a ‘culture,’ a ‘social movement?’ What is its relation to science?) but also as a field to work with, as a tool to produce new concepts which would help us to better understand our reality.

Throughout the semester, and through the lens of science fiction literature, we will explore a vast range of current and urgent themes on which much research in Humanities and social sciences is focused on, such as the Anthropocene, Feminism, Posthumanism, Postcolonialism, Science, and Technology.

For each session, two kinds of readings will be assigned: 1) a text by a scholar (or two) who uses science fiction narratives in her/his theoretical research, and 2) some science-fiction novels that allow to reflect upon a particular theme (animals, gender roles, climate change, etc.) We will observe how this scholar reads the stories, and which place (or function) s/he gives to these stories in her/his work. This method of investigation will enable us to think in two directions:

(i) what can we learn about science fiction literature through its usage by scholars coming from different fields of study?
(ii) what can we learn about academic research through these practices of reading science fiction stories? What does it mean to read science fiction as a scholar working on the Anthropocene, feminism, postcolonialism?

Since one of the aims of this course is also to introduce science fiction to those students who are not familiar with this literary field, we will mostly focus on the classics and the most renowned authors (Karel Čapek, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Olaf Stapledon, H. G. Wells), chosen from among different genres of science fiction (Hard Science, Cyberpunk, Space Opera, Climate Fiction), from the 19th century to today. The course also aims to give students the basic tools to undertake their own research on science fiction, be it in Humanities or social sciences.


– Class participation. Students are strongly encouraged to attend all classes. (20 % of the final grade)
– One short presentation of the assigned readings (10 minutes) for each student. The presentation should provide a summary of the texts, backed up by a critical analysis. (35 % of the final grade)
– Final paper. (50 % of the final grade)

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: phenomenology and Literature

LecturerBenedetta Zaccarello (CNRS / CEFRES)
Inscription: Department of German and French Philosophy, FHS UK
When & where: Thursdays 4/4, 11/4, 25/4, 9/5, 16/5, 23/5, 11h00-12h20, CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1
Language: French

Élu à la chaire de Philosophie du Collège de France en 1952, Maurice Merleau-Ponty dispensa pendant sa première année d’enseignement le cours intitulé Recherches sur l’usage littéraire du langage. Ces leçons permettent de mieux comprendre le rôle joué par la littérature dans la philosophie de Merleau-Ponty, notamment en ce qui concerne l’élaboration d’une nouvelle méthodologie phénoménologique en dialogue avec (et en opposition à) la pensée critique de Sartre. L’étude de ces textes, ainsi que leur comparaison avec le projet laissé inachevé et publié posthume sous le titre de La Prose du monde, nous aidera à mieux comprendre l’évolution de la pensée de Merleau-Ponty ainsi que le débat philosophique de l’époque sur la question de la littérature.

Cultural Industry: Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and Critical Theory of Media. 2

LecturerBenedetta Zaccarello (CNRS / CEFRES)
Inscription: Departement of German and French Philosophy, FHS UK
When & where: Wednesdays 3/4, 10/4, 24/4, 15/5, 22/5, 9:30-12h20, CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1
Language: French

Throughout a close reading of some texts of Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, the course aims to understand the contemporary use of mass media as the result of an historical process of evolution in our approaches to creativity and communication.

Deconstruction and Phenomenology

Lecturer: Thomas Mercier (CEFRES / UK)
Inscription: Department of German and French Philosophy, FHS UK
When and where: Thursdays 9:30–12:20, CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1 (dates tbc)
Language: French


Starting with Jacques Derrida’s very first publications, the basic tenets of deconstruction were elaborated through a complex dialogue, loving but antagonistic, with phenomenology. In this course, we will examine this tumultuous relationship, and will emphasise deconstruction’s paradoxical indebtedness to phenomenological thought. We will carry out a transversal and selective reading of Derrida’s œuvre by engaging with texts he devoted to mainly five authors, phenomenologists or heirs of the phenomenological tradition: Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty and Patočka. Each of these readings will be focused around one or two specific notions: speech and writing (Husserl), language and technics (Heidegger), violence and alterity (Levinas), Europe and responsibility (Patočka), body or corporeity, and the world (Merleau-Ponty).

The course will thus deal more particularly with the problematics of inheritance and reading, and will provide a presentation of Derrida as a reader and as a paradoxical heir, both faithful and unfaithful, of phenomenological authors.