Havel at Columbia

About the Havel at Columbia Site

At the invitation of President Bollinger, Václav Havel arrived at Columbia University on October 26th 2006 for a seven-week residency featuring lectures, interviews, conversations, classes, performances, and panels centered on his life and ideas. The visit was organized by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University.

The interviews presented here focus on Havel the citizen and Havel the artist, offering a number of perspectives from Columbia University faculty, friends of Havel, and others. Use these interviews to examine and reflect on Havel's life and work.

The Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, in partnership with the Columbia University Arts Initiative, released the Havel at Columbia site, a resource to support former Czech President Václav Havel’s seven-week residency on campus during the Fall 2006 semester. This archive features artifacts from Václav Havel's visit in 2006. The original site included a student-focused feature, the Notebooks , which is no longer available. The Notebooks allowed students to create a personalized compilation of assets that they could annotate. The original site also included a number of image galleries that were mostly restricted to Columbia affiliates. Those galleries are not longer available.

Havel at Columbia Host Committee

Chairs: William and Suzanne McDonough
Honorary Chairs: President Lee C. and Jean Magnano Bollinger


Count and Countess Arco
Evangeline Morphos and Alan Brinkley
William V. Campbell
Catia M. and Schuyler G. Chapin
Jill and John Chalsty
Kenneth I. Chenault
Jennie and Chris Coyne
Beth Rudin DeWoody
Virginia H. Drabbe-Seemann
Ahmet Ertegun
Jonathan F. Fanton
Martina and Milos Forman
Barbara and Arthur Gelb
Barbara Goldsmith
Clare and Vartan Gregorian
Pam and Marc Grodman
Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro
Kati Marton and Hon. Richard Holbrooke
Henry Kallan
Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis
Kathryn McAuliffe and Jay L. Kriegel
Marilyn and Bob Laurie
Dr. Judith Ginsberg and Dr. Paul LeClerc
Jeffrey Leeds
Deborah Leff
Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg
Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest
Nathan Leventhal
Dovie F. Wingard and Richard Lorber
Wendy and Hon. William H. Luers
Virginia Mailman
Mr. and Mrs. David H. Mortimer
Catharine Nepomnyashchy
Mrs. Joseph Papp
Harold Prince
Anna and Martin Rabinowitz
Jane Rosenthal
Gerald Schoenfeld
Edith Levy and Martin E. Segal
Ellen Hume and John Shattuck
Marshall L. Shnider
George Soros
President Emeritus Michael I. Sovern and Dr. Patricia M. Sovern
Hon. Carl Spielvogel and Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein
Rose Styron
Patsy and Jeff Tarr
Amy and Jeff Tarr, Jr.
Mrs. Malcolm H. Wiener
Professor Elie Wiesel and Mrs. Marion Wiesel
Torsten Wiesel
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

Havel at Columbia Use and Production

The Havel at Columbia site contained a wide range of teaching and learning materials for classroom study of Havel’s life and art, that grew throughout the semester as events and materials were added. The multimedia resource features video interviews with scholars, artists, and political figures contributing their insights on Václav Havel’s legacy as an artist and political leader, including Dean Lisa Anderson from the School of International and Public Affairs, former President George H. W. Bush, Edward Albee, Milos Forman, Lou Reed, and George Soros. A timeline of events, an image glossary with photographs and primary documents, and archival footage from television and films provide historical context for the Velvet Revolution and Havel’s presidency, making the site a rich educational resource beyond his campus residency. The site featured video recordings of the many lectures, performances, and presentations that took place throughout the residency. These were available to view online and downloadable as podcasts.

Courses that used the Havel at Columbia site during the Fall ‘06 semester included “History, Literature, Film and Dissent in Eastern European Culture,” an undergraduate seminar by Brad Abrams and Christopher Harwood and a multidisciplinary course at Barnard co-taught by Cathy Nepomnyashchy with theater lecturer Amy Trompetter that included a study and performance of Havel’s play The Beggar’s Opera . Anne Bogart focused on the political theater of Clifford Odets and Havel in her graduate MFA course “Directing III.” In addition, Literature Humanities students studied Havel’s play The Garden Party , Havel delivered a lecture to the Core Curriculum’s Contemporary Civilization course, for which students read his essay “Dear Dr. Husák.”

To allow instructors to create a more customized experience of the site for their courses, CCNMTL introduced a new feature called the Havel Notebook. Any Columbia University faculty member or student with a UNI could log in to organize their own resources from the site by saving and annotating text, images, and links to a personalized page, or “notebook.” Developed in coordination with faculty partners from the Harriman Institute, School of the Arts, and Barnard College, these notebooks were shared with others, making them especially useful for classes that are using the Havel at Columbia site as a resource.

“The Havel Web site is a terrific clearinghouse for all the ma- terials. The interviews are fascinating, and will continue to be a valuable resource. The real bonus is all of the documentary and filmed materials that surrounded all of the aspects of Havel’s career.”

– Bradley Abrams, Associate Director, Harriman Institute, and Associate Professor, History Department


Frank Moretti, Maurice Matiz, Executive Producers
John Frankfurt, Mark Phillipson, Project Managers
Stephanie Ogden, Digital Media Producer
Schuyler Duveen, Programmer Extraordinaire
Brian O'Hagan, Digital Media Producer
Jeff Barreith, Student Research Assistant