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Slovak Studies Program

Martin Votruba

Slovak program

Current information

Slovak studies topics

Queries on history

SK map CL Pribis 1612 Orava Castle


The University of Pittsburgh is the only university in the United States where students can take Slovak language and culture classes and opt to receive a Minor in Slovak Studies. People from other colleges in the region cross-register each year, the Slovak Studies Program has welcomed students, professors, and employees from CMU, Duquesne U., Chatham U., Carlow U., and La Roche College. Students sometimes come from universities around the country for a semester or two on a FLAS scholarship. People who meet the OLLI criteria are welcome to audit (almost all have chosen to participate fully) all our classes and do so every year.


Looking to meet the Detrich School of A&S General Education Requirements?


Historical Analysis

  • SLOVAK 0890 Slovak, Czech, and Central European Cinema
  • SLOVAK / ENGLIT 0380 Slovak Transatlantic Cultures

Specific Geographic Region

  • SLOVAK 0890 Slovak, Czech, and Central European Cinema
  • SLOVAK / ENGLIT 0380 Slovak Transatlantic Cultures
  • SLAV 1865 The Year Communism Crumbled

W - Writing Intensive

  • SLOVAK 0890 Slovak, Czech, and Central European Cinema
  • SLOVAK / ENGLIT 0380 Slovak Transatlantic Cultures


  • SLOVAK 0890 Slovak, Czech, and Central European Cinema


  • SLOVAK / ENGLIT 0380 Slovak Transatlantic Cultures

Scroll down for descriptions and anonymous student evaluations of the courses.

Study Slovak, build your brain (more so than studying medicine). Click to listen:
L - Second Language

SLOVAK 0010, 0020, 0030, 0040, 0400, 0410 Students receive printable custom course materials at the beginning of the course and handouts in class. Click on anonymous student comments for more information. The language courses are always offered as follows: in the fall semester – Elementary 1, Intermediate 3, and Advanced 1; and in the spring semester – Elementary 2, Intermediate 4, and Advanced 2. The elementary and intermediate courses are always scheduled in the evening. We also teach intensive language courses in the summer (SLI).

Banska Bystrica

Search Slovak Studies Program SSP For the current and upcoming course schedule and classrooms, click here.
Click on Pitt Student Slovak Club to meet other interested students.


Slovak, Czech, and Central European Cinema - SLOVAK 0890 (3 cr.)
Meets A&S requirements (and CGS):
  • HS - Historical change (6 History)
  • W - Writing intensive course (DS:H Humanities requirement)
  • REG - International/Foreign culture - regional (7 International perspective)
  • MA / EX - 2nd Course in Literature, the Arts, or Creative Expression (5 Literature)
For more information, click on Anonymous student comments, Syllabus.


The course presents Central European filmmaking in its cultural and historical context, and Central European culture through film. It is structured around Slovak and Czech filmmaking (e.g., early works by the Oscar-winning director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, one of the most celebrated film experiments, and the first Central European film to win an Oscar). The students learn to discuss them in their cultural context against the panorama of life in Central Europe, as well as from the American perspective. You need to be able to watch subtitled films and be open to having your mind shuffled around Central Europe, from Prague to a Gypsy village, from Bratislava and Berlin to Budapest, to the valleys of the Carpathians and back. Most films are shown in their entirety, with discussions and handouts. They can be viewed again individually on monitors in Hillman Library. Grades are based on 8 of the 10 listed weekly assignments, a midterm paper, and a final paper; no tests or quizzes.


Film The Garden


Slovak Transatlantic Cultures - SLOVAK / ENGLIT 0380 (3 cr.)
Meets A&S requirements:
  • LIT - Literature (5 Literature)
  • HS - Historical change (6 History)
  • W - Writing intensive course (DS:H Humanities requirement)
  • REG - International/Foreign culture - regional (International perspective)
If students are interested, they may take the initiative and modify their focus and assignments (see the detailed syllabus here) in order to explore their own ancestry or an immigrant group of their choice with roots in Central Europe or a significant presence in Western Pennsylvania. Click on anonymous student comments for more

Central Europe

Central Europe


The Year Communism Crumbled - SLAV 1865 (3 cr.)
Meets A&S requirements:
  • REG - International/Foreign culture - regional (7 - International perspective)

Students may focus their midterm and final papers primarily on Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, or Czechia (see the syllabus here). If they have a strong preference, they may choose topics concerning Romania or Bulgaria. Click on anonymous student comments for more information.


Today's free, borderless Central Europe opened up after a cascade of interlinked social and political earthquakes in several countries. The media conveniently recast the collapse of communism of 1989 as "the fall of the Berlin Wall" to the location where they already had reporters, but that was merely a pebble in the intriguing mosaic of people's victories that crushed communism in Poland and Hungary, transited through and enabled the televised carnival in Germany, and continued to topple the totalitarian regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania, and eventually Bulgaria and elsewhere. The course is structured around the chronology and mutual impact of events in Central Europe from 1988 through early 1990. It covers Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, East Germany, Hungary, and to a lesser degree Romania and Bulgaria. It also surveys the onset of and life under communism, traces back some of the dramatic precursors to the 1989 liberation (Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Poland 1981) and outlines the interethnic relations and other social and cultural legacies that characterize the region today. Written work: a 2,500-3,000-word midterm research paper and a 3,000-3,500-word final research paper, the latter can integrate parts of the former, no test.


Return to Europe



Professionalization - SLAV 2209 (1 cr.)
Graduate students from any department
  • Pass/fail only (S/NC grade option)

The course gives students the opportunity to discuss and draw lessons from the instructor's over two decades of experience with sitting on national committees in order to reject, approve, and rank hundreds of scholarship applications (plus dozens more at Pitt). They will learn to understand uncharted factors in decision making about applications for scholarships and get hands-on practice with designing and writing their own applications in a way that may aid the committees in recognizing their values. Click on comments for additional information.




Slovakia-related scholarships

Summer study or research in Slovakia: Pitt Nationality Rooms Scholarship

Summer language study in Slovakia: Western Pa. Slovak Cultural Association, call 1-888-SLOVAKS

Research or teaching assistantship in Slovakia: Fulbright Program for U.S. Students

1-2 semesters in Slovakia: National Scholarship Program of Slovakia

U.S. study, Slovak descent: Council of Higher Education, Chicago, IL

U.S. study, FCSU - Jednota members: FCSU scholarships

U.S. study, First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association members: FCSLA college scholarships

U.S. study, National Slovak Society members: NSS scholarships

U.S. study, Slovak Catholic Sokol members: SCS college grants