Prague Spring '68: The Unbearable Brevity of Freedom | Newberry

Prague Spring '68: The Unbearable Brevity of Freedom

Led by Dagmar Herrmann. Eight sessions, 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Wednesdays, February 21 - April 11

5:45 - 7:45 pm

Online registration is closed. Call (312) 255-3700 to register.

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (January 9 at 10 am – January 26 at 4 pm): $250
Regular Registration Price (January 26 at 4 pm – first day of class): $275

Members, seniors, and students get a 10% discount.

Online registration is closed, but you can still register by phone. Please call (312) 255-3700 to do so.

Excuse our dust!

Beginning January 2018 the Newberry will be undertaking renovation of much of the first floor. The Adult Education Seminars Program will still have use of the basement classrooms, but please check this link frequently for the latest conditions - which exterior doors are open or closed, where to find an accessible entrance, which restrooms are available, etc.

Because of the renovation, the Newberry Bookstore will be closed during the Winter/Spring and Summer 2018 terms. As such, seminar participants will be responsible for acquiring all required texts for their seminars on their own. We apologize sincerely for the inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding. We have put together a list of helpful resources that should make it easy to find the books you need.

Seminar Description

Once in a generation there is a rebellion that resonates across the globe. Fifty years ago, the Prague Spring—an attempt in Czechoslovakia to liberalize the country through reforms based on an individual’s right to freedom of speech—might have been the most ambitious to date. Through a close reading of world bestsellers, Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Ignorance, and Václav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless, we shall try to better understand this flashpoint in history whose relevance has not abated. Eight sessions.

Dagmar Herrmann, a long-time seminar leader at the Newberry, is an award-winning translator and an independent scholar who lived and studied in Prague.

Materials List


  • Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude. ISBN#: 978-0156904582
  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. ANY EDITION translated by Michael Henry Heim
  • Milan Kundera, Ignorance. ISBN#: 978-0060002107
  • Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless. Downloadable from

First Reading:

  • There is no reading assignment for the first class.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about our registration procedures.