Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Meghan Forbes

LecturerPhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2016

Meghan Forbes


  • Phone: 512.232.9125
  • Office: BUR 474
  • Office Hours: 11-12 Mondays and Wednesdays or by appointment


Czech Literature and Visual Culture, German Modernism, Interwar Avant-Garde, Epistolary Theory, Periodical Studies, Typography, Network Mapping and Data Visualization


Meghan Forbes is a Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and teaches courses in Central European literature and visual culture, as well as the Czech language. 

For the 2016/2017 academic year, she is also a Visiting Scholar at NYU's Institute for Public Knowledge, where she is organizing a symposium on printed matter and digital archiving for Spring 2017.

Meghan received her PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in August 2016. Her dissertation—"In the Middle of It All: Prague, Brno, and the Avant-Garde Networks of Interwar Europe"—focuses on the Czech group Devětsil and its relationship to other European artistic and intellectual movements of the 1920s. She has received numerous grants and fellowships for this work, including a Fulbright award to conduct research in Berlin, Germany for the 2014/2015 academic year. She is currently at work on a series of articles and a book manuscript that consider the networks of exchange enacted via correspondence, travel, and publishing platforms in the interwar avant-garde of Central Europe.

Her writing has appeared in the journal UměníArtpost at MoMA, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Michigan Quarterly Review. She is a regular contributor to the MQR blog. Her translations from the Czech and Slovak have been published by When in Droughtharlequin creaturemolossus, and Words Without Borders. For the latter, Meghan recently guest edited a special feature on Central European avant-garde visual poetry and typographic experiment.

Meghan is also the founder and co-editor of harlequin creature, an arts and literature imprint. With hc, she conducts a series of creative writing workshops with children, at such institutions as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Dia:Beacon, and 826.


CZ 507 • First-Year Czech II

44775 • Spring 2017
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 128

The course is the second semester of an introduction to the Czech language with an emphasis on speaking, listening, and reading. In addition to the textbook, videos will be used not only to increase comprehension, but also to expose the student to Czech culture.

Attendance and active participation, while important to any course, are vital to foreign language study. Students are thus urged and expected to ask questions and contact the instructor in cases of uncertainty—whether regarding course content, assignments or any other aspect of the class. The instructor, in turn, will make every effort to respond as quickly and accurately as possible to student questions or concerns.

Grading: Short tests: 35%, Final exam: 15%, Homework: 15%, Quizzes: 10%, Attendance/participation: 15%, Portfolio: 10%

REE 325 • Central Euro Lit 20th Cent

44605 • Spring 2017
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 303
(also listed as C L 323, EUS 347)


The geographic and linguistic scope of Central Europe is a fluid space that exists and is redefined in relation to what is considered East or West. The contested construct of Central Europe, the violence of the two World Wars, and the turbulent political environment in the region throughout the Twentieth Century has produced a distinct body of literature that expresses both cultural specificity and a more universal tension between unease and optimism brought about by a constant state of flux. A historical contextualization of Central Europe in the Twentieth Century will foreground discussions of literary texts from former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, Germany, Poland, and Hungary. The course will focus on two temporal periods: the interwar era (1919-1938), and the 1960s through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The majority of readings will be of prose (in the form of novels and short stories), though some essays and selected poetry will also be assigned and discussed in class. All texts are available in English translation; please be sure to purchase or check out from the library the specific edition of each book as listed here.


Selected Readings:

  • Alfred Döblin. Berlin Alexanderplatz. Trans. Eugene Jolas. New York: Continuum, 2003. (excerpts)
  • Bohumil Hrabal. Harlequin’s Millions. Trans. Stacey Knecht. New York: Archipelago, 2014.
  • Zofia Nalkowska. Medallions. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2000.
  • Magda Szabó. The Door. Trans. Len Rix. New York: New York Review of Books, 2015.
  • Dubravka Ugrešić. Fording the Stream of Consciousness. Trans. Michael Henry Heim. London: Virago Press, 1991.


Course Requirements:

Students will be evaluated (in equal thirds) on 1) participation, as defined by regular attendance and active engagement in class discussion; 2) brief reading responses and an in-class presentation; and 3) a final research paper of 10-12 pages, with rough drafts submitted for revision three times throughout the semester. 

CZ 506 • First-Year Czech I

44685 • Fall 2016
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM CLA 0.108


The course is an introduction to Czech language and culture. Students will learn the fundamentals of Czech grammar and a wide range of everyday vocabulary with an emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Videos, music, film, and literature will be used in class to practice language skills, as well as expose students to Czech culture.


Textbook and Materials will be distributed through the course website.



Attendance/Participation: 10%

Homework: 15%

Weekly vocabulary/grammar quizzes:15%

Tests (4 tests, 10% each): 40%

Final: 20%


REE 325 • Europe Avant-Garde In Print

44523 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GEA 114
(also listed as EUS 347)


The period between the two world wars in Europe marked a moment of intensive artistic and intellectual exchange as new nations were formed, such as Czechoslovakia’s First Republic and Weimar Germany. This active learning course will examine how the Czech and German avant-garde magazines contributed to international discussions about what a new Europe should be through their innovative use of photography, international typographic conventions, and translation. Lectures and readings will provide historical contextualization as a springboard for class discussions of how magazines like Disk and ReD in Prague, Pásmo in Brno, Merz in Hannover, and G and Veshch in Berlin worked to reach audiences abroad and engage in a transnational conversation about art making and politics in post-World War One society through both their textual and visual content. In this course, these lesser known magazines will be discussed alongside their more famous, English-language counterparts, such as the London-based The Egoist and The Little Review in New York. Visits will be made to the Books and Periodicals Collection at the Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum of Art to study existing examples of interwar print culture held on campus. Simultaneously addressing the digital, the course will also explore how reception is altered once a periodical is digitized and made viewable online.



  • Timothy P. Benson, ed. Between Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-gardes, 1910-1930. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, 2002.
  • Johanna Drucker. The Visible World: Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909-1923. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
  • László Moholy-Nagy. Painting Photography Film. [1925 1st ed. 1927 2nd ed.] Trans. Janet Seligman. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1969.
  • Franco Moretti. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso, 2005.
  • Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman. Modernism in the Magazines: An Introduction. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.
  • Jan Tschichold. The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers. [1927 1st ed.] Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Course Requirements:

Evaluation is based on participation, an independent research paper, and a group presentation and digital mapping project. No reading knowledge of the various languages of the magazines is necessary.