David Cooper: "Anatomy of a Successful Forgery: The Czech Manuscripts"

September 29, 2020 | 1:00PM

"Anatomy of a Successful Forgery: The Czech Manuscripts" by David Cooper, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. To register for this lecture, click here

For over five decades from the moment of their appearance in 1817 and 1818, the Queen’s Court and Green Mountain Manuscripts were considered by the vast majority of the international scholarly community to be genuine monuments of medieval Czech literature. How were so many of the best minds of the period fooled for so long? Drawing on research for a monograph in-progress entitled “The Czech Manuscripts: Poetics, Faith, Scholarship,” this presentation will examine the qualities of the manuscripts themselves, both as physical and as literary objects, their effective use in the Czech cultural revival of the period, and the cultural and intellectual horizons of the period that made the manuscripts (seem) real.

David L. Cooper is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a specialist in both Czech and Russian literatures. His research is in the areas of nationalism in literature, forgery and mystification, translation history and translation studies, and history of criticism. His monograph Creating the Nation: Identity and Aesthetics in Early Nineteenth-century Russia and Bohemia (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010) examined the emergence of the new paradigm of “national literature” and the role of literary intellectuals in developing new conceptions of national identity. David has published translations of Slovak folktales and poetry and recently published a new translated edition of the poems of the Czech 19th-century forged manuscripts (The Queen’s Court and Green Mountain Manuscripts with Other Forgeries of the Czech Revival, Michigan Slavic Publications, 2018). His current book project, under the working title of The Czech Forged Manuscripts: Poetics, Faith, and Scholarship, examines this notorious case of literary forgery for what it can contribute to ongoing scholarly reevaluations of forgery in literature and history.

This event is part of the Area Studies Lecture Series presented by the 2018-2021 U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies grant recipients for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.