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Jana is an activist, writer, feminist, and co-founder and former director of several NGOs, including Gender Studies, Prague Mothers Civic Association, and the Berkat NGO for migrants. She studied Czech language and literature at Charles University and was a student of the Underground University, the study program that took place outside official university structures under communism. She was the program coordinator for Ashoka in the Czech Republic and Slovakia from 1995 to 2003, during which time she also took part in a television documentary devoted to social entrepreneurship. Jana is also a poet and author of several articles published in anthologies, with a special focus on Czech woman writers and activists of the 19th century. She is a frequent contributor to online and other public debates on Czech civil society. Jana received the prestigious Irene-Prix award in 2004 for organizing Czech humanitarian aid for endangered children and families in Chechnya and Afghanistan.
Petra Hůlová, PhD
Petra is one of the leading Czech writers of her generation. She has published eight novels, two of which have been translated into English. In addition to receiving numerous stipends, she won the prestigious Magnesia Litera Prize for her debut novel, All This Belongs to Me (Paměť mojí babičce), which was also named Czech book of the year in 2002; the 2006 George Orten Prize for Three Plastic Rooms (Umělohmotný třípokoj) in 2006; and the Josef Škvorecký Prize for her novel Taiga Station (Stanice Tajga) in 2008. Petra has a doctorate in cultural and Mongolian studies. See more at her website.
Alena Kotzmannová, PhD
Alena is one of top photographers on the Czech visual arts scene. Since the time of her studies in photography, conceptual, and inter-media art, she has had numerous solo exhibitions and taken part in many group exhibitions both in the Czech Republic and abroad. She has received multiple artist stipends and residencies and was shortlisted twice for the top prize in Czech art, the Jindřich Chalupecký Award for Young Artists (2005 and 2009) as well as the Jaromír Funke Award for young photographers (2004). Alena has an MA from the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design and a PhD from Charles University. See more at her website and learn about a project she collaborated with other European artists on.
Petra is a choreographer, lecturer in creative movement, and dance movement therapist in psychotherapy rehabilitation programs. Her solo and group performances include, among others, Mushroom with the Handa Gote ensemble (2009); Dining, directed by Jan Komárek (2009); and Purple Snails (2000–2005) by the Brothers Forman Theater. She won first place in the Jarmila Jeřábkova Award competition for choreography in 1999. In addition to current studies in psychotherapeutic training in motion and dance therapy, she studied dance at the Duncan Conservatory in Prague; creative writing and pedagogy at the Prague Theater Academy; and dance, physical theater, and traditional Balinese dance at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, Germany. She is also an external lecturer in improvisation at the Artual school of art.
Barbara Day, PhD
Dr. Barbara Day has a PhD from Bristol University. She studied theater in Prague in the 1960s and returned at the beginning of the 1980s to research her dissertation on Prague’s Theatre on the Balustrade and the tradition of small stage theatre. This led to contacts with the “underground university” and the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, for which she worked as liaison between Britain and Czechoslovakia until 1989. In the early 1990s she helped to establish the Czechoslovak Jan Hus Educational Foundation in Brno, of which she is now a Patron; in 1999 she published the story of the underground university in the book, The Velvet Philosophers. She is a translator of texts from Czech to English on history, theatre and art and gives seminars on Czech Theater, the Underground University and Czech Life and Culture under Communism for American and other foreign study programs as well as Czech university students. She is translator of numerous catalogue essays, excerpts from novels and several books, and author of numerous articles on Czech theater and culture. Her book, Subversive Stages, Reflections on Czech Theater was published in 2019 by the Karolinum Press of Charles University.
Barbara is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the English College in Prague, a Trustee of the British Jan Hus Educational Foundation, a Member of the Board of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre. She received the Commemorative Medal of President Václav Havel for services to the Czech Republic in 1998 and in 2002 was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to UK-Czech Relations.
Tomáš Vrba, PhD
Dr. Tomáš Vrba has a PhD in philosophy from Charles University. He worked from 1974 to 1977 as a social worker and in 1977, he was a signatory of the Charter 77 human-rights declaration. Through the 1980s he worked as an editor of clandestine (samizdat) literature and from November 1989 through the spring of 1990, he was a member of the Občanské Forum (Civic Forum). He was Editor-in-Chief of the Lettre Internationale quarterly (Czech and Slovak edition) from 1990 to 1995, and founded and was president of the AEJ-Association of European Journalists/Czech section in 1993. In the late 1990s he was the Editor-in-Chief of the monthly magazine Přítomnost /The New Presence; from 2002 to 2004, he was the Association of European Journalist International Vice President and, until 2007, the Chair of the Czech News Agency (ČTK) Council. He is currently President of the Board of Directors of the Vaclav Havel’s Forum 2000 Foundation and also chairs the Board at Theater Archa in Prague. In 2011, Tomáš co-organized the exhibition of Czech samizdat with a parallel symposium on its legacy in New York and Washington. From 2013 to 2014, he was a member of the Academic Council of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague. In 2015, he joined the editorial team at the Institute of Czech Literature of the Czech Academy of Sciences working on the Encyclopedia of Czech samizdat. In April 2016, he was a visiting scholar at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He teaches Central European Literature at NYU in Prague.
Vrba is the author of the chapter “The independent literature and free thinking 1970–1989” (in: Alternative culture. 1945–1989, ed. Josef Alan, 2001) and of essays and articles published in Czech and international press. He became the editor of series of books, e.g. diaries and letters of Edvard Munch
(2006), Central European University Press publication The View from Prague (2007), works by Ivan M. Havel (2015, 2016). He translates both fiction and non-fiction from English into Czech, e.g. Yehuda Bauer (2009), Flannery O’Connor (2010), Christopher Tyerman (2012), Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter (2012) or Sir Nicholas Winton’s biography If it’s Not Impossible (2014).
Oldřich Bystřický, MA (Czech Arts, History & Civil Society I, guest lecturer)
Artist, lecturer, and curator at the National Gallery, Prague, collection of Modern and Contemporary art. is a lecturer (since 2006) and a curator for education (since 2009) in the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art of the National Gallery in Prague, where he oversees the design and implementation of educational programs with art activities and using new media for secondary schools. He designs interactive studios for short-term exhibitions and also prepares art workshops for young people and adults in cooperation with contemporary artists. He specializes in art and architecture of the 20th century. Mr. Bystřicky studied art education for secondary schools and elementary art schools at the Pedagogical Faculty of Palacký University in Olomouc (2001 – 2006) and painting under Petr Veselý and Tomáš Lahoda at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (2006 – 2008). In addition to his current work he devotes himself to free creation – drawing, painting, performance or creating objects and installations. In 2008 he received the Josef Hlávka Prize that is awarded annually for undergraduate and graduate students of exceptional capabilities and creative thinking their branch of study. As a member of the civic association Výlet he cooperated on the preparation and implementation of site-specific events for the public in the Jewish quarter of Boskovice (2011, 2012) and on the program of reviving the unique modernist collective house in Litvínov as part of the Koldům (2013) event.
Zuzana Lebedová, MA
Zuzana Lebedová is an independent teacher, translator, trainer and coach and in addition to leading workshops for teachers, organizing conferences on language learning and analyzing textbooks, she has served as a senior teacher and director of studies at the Glossa Language School in Prague. She is a specialist in Czech language and teaching methodologies and also integrates her studies in Czech literature and culture into the SIT Czech language course, providing students both technical skills and a understanding of language in relation to the arts and culture. In addition to Czech and English, she speaks Russian, Spanish and French. has an MA from Charles University, Prague and also studied at University of Amsterdam.