Bio

Zdeněk V. David, Librarian Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars since February 2002, was born in Blatná, Czech Republic, in 1931. After coming to the United States in September 1947, he studied at the Putney School in Vermont in 1947–48, then at Wesleyan University (politics and philosophy, B.A. 1952), and did graduate work at Harvard (Russian area studies, M.A. 1954; history, Ph.D. 1960). He taught historiography, and Russian and East European history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1960 to 1965. From 1966 to 1974, he served as Slavic bibliographer and history lecturer in Russian and East European history at Princeton University, and from 1974 to 2002 as Librarian at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

His book, Realism, Tolerance, Liberalism in the Czech National Awakening: Legacies of the Bohemian Reformation (Washington, DC: Wilson Center Press; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) was published in 2010. A previous book, Finding the Middle Way: The Utraquists’ Liberal Challenge to Rome and Luther (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press) appeared in 2003. A Czech translation is now under preparation. With the late Robert Kann he is coauthor of the Peoples of the Eastern Habsburg Lands, 1526–1918 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1984). He compiled the Bibliography of Works in the Philosophy of History for 1978–82 (with Robert Strassfeld), and for 1983–87 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University, 1984-89). He edited the Scholars’ Guides to Washington, D.C. series (15 vols. 1977–1995).

His journal articles have appeared in Austrian History YearbookBohemiaBohemian Reformation and Religious PracticeCarl Beck PapersChurch HistoryCeský casopis historickýCommunio ViatorumEEPS: East European Politics and SocietiesEast European Jewish AffairsFilosofický casopisFolia Historica BohemicaJournal of Ecclesiastical HistoryKosmasSbornik Narodního muzeaSixteenth Century JournalSlavic Review, and Slavonic and East European Review. David is currently conducting research on the philosophical and religious background of Thomas G. Masaryk’s politics.

In the early 1990s, David joined David R. Holeton and Vilém Herold in organizing symposia on “The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice,” six of which were held during the World Congresses of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (Prague 1994, Brno l996, Bratislava 1998, Washington 2000, Plzen, 2002, Olomouc 2004), and six additional ones under the auspices of the Philosophy Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Prague in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010). He co-edited seven volumes of the symposia papers that have appeared in 1996-2009. In November 2002, he was invited to address the Historical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences on the subject of the Bohemian Reformation. He has served as a Vice-President of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, as its Secretary General, and as a Member at Large of the Executive Committee of the Czechoslovak Studies Association (formerly, Czechoslovak Studies Conference). He received the František Palacký Honorary Medal for Merit in Historical Sciences from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in 2009, and the Prize of the Prague Chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in 2010.

Project Summary

Although subject to some revisionism since the end of the Cold War (when he was considered one of the "Champions of Liberty"), the importance of Masaryk's political thought has been based on (a) his image as the principal shaper of political culture in inter-war Czechoslovakia; (b) as a model of political prudence and sagacity for East-Central Europe, if not for the world (like a nineteenth-century Vaclav Havel). Of course, an enormous literature of all kinds, languages, and levels of erudition on Masaryk exists. My main interest is to probe the mind of the man as revealed through his writings on philosophy and religion, and map out his place in relation to the principal Austrian, British, French, and German thinkers (to some extent also American and Russian, with whom he dealt. I mean to focus on the ideas behind his political pronouncements and activities, which have not yet been explored adequately.

Major Publications

  • Realism, Tolerance, Liberalism in the Czech National Awakening: Legacies of the Bohemian Reformation. Washington, D.C.: Wilson Center Press; and Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, March 2010. 413 p.
  • "Universalist Aspirations of the Utraquist Church," The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice, Vol. 7, published as Filosofický casopis: Supplementum 1(2009), 194-212.
  • "Masaryk and Hegel within the Context of the Austrian Philosophical Tradition," Selected Papers from the Twenty-Fourth World Congress of the Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Sciences, 2 vols., Žilina, Slovakia: University of Žilina, [2010], 1:15-38.
  • "Masaryk's Attitude Toward National Languages," in Heiz Duchhardt, Hlavácek, Winfried Eberhard, and others, eds., Bruncwik und die Nymphe. Die Überlegungen zur kulturellen und politischen Identität Europas, Europaena Pragensia 2. Prague: Philosophical Faculty of Charles University and Filosofia Publishers, 2010, 120-134.
  • "Masaryk on the Psychological and Philosophical Causes of World War I," Kosmas: Czechoslovak and Central European Journal, Vol. 24, no. 1 (Fall 2010), 1-21.

Previous Terms

January 31,2002 - January 31, 2004 "Philosophical Outlook of Tomas G. Masaryk as a Background of His Politics" February 1, 2004 - January 31, 2008

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