The professors who teach at the University of New York in Prague are our greatest assets. They are accomplished teachers and outstanding educators, with advanced degrees and professional experience. They demonstrate by example how to achieve magnificent results in their fields of expertise and the upward trajectory of their professional journey.
We were beyond happy to find out that one of our greatest professors, Mark Andrew Brandon, Professor of Modern US and Czech history, has recently signed a contract with Central European University Press to publish his first book, “The Perils of Race-Thinking: An Intellectual Portrait of Aleš Hrdlička.” Dr. Brandon kindly agreed to talk about his long career path at UNYP, and tease us with a few comments about his new book. We look forward to hearing more details next year when it is published!
Dr. Brandon, you have taught at the University of New York in Prague since 2004. Could you please briefly introduce us to your career path?
My focus as a historian has changed a lot over the years. A long time ago in the USA, I wrote a master’s thesis about Renaissance humanism and its influence on the Protestant Reformation. At that time, I wanted to study the Renaissance and Reformation periods in European History. I also started teaching “World History” courses in the 1990s, so I learned something about so-called “non-Western” history. Over the years, I gradually concentrated on modern US and Czech history, but I am happy that I tried a lot of different things and became a “general practitioner” in my field before specializing. At UNYP, I have enjoyed teaching many kinds of history courses.
How did you get interested in the fields of Czech and American history?
My maternal grandparents (and aunts and uncles) were Czech-speaking immigrants to the United States. At family gatherings, all the old people spoke Czech, so we youngsters could not understand what they were saying about us! I was curious about them and where they came from, and when I was a young adult, I moved to the Czech Republic. When I moved here, I realized I could be most helpful by teaching about the United States and its history. But after living twenty years in the Czech Republic, it makes sense for me to combine the two topics.
A big congratulations on publishing your book – The Perils of Race-Thinking: An Intellectual Portrait of Aleš Hrdlička. Could you please tell us more about it?
Thank you. However, we have not published the book yet, so I do not want to say too much about it. I have signed a contract, which means it will be published, but there is a lot of work to do to get it ready for publication. Let’s talk more about it when it comes out.
We know that Central European University (CEU) Press is a very prestigious publisher! Were there any challenges in publishing the book?
I am celebrating getting the book contract, but I will say more about the book when it is published. I think every professor knows how difficult it is to get a first book published. One has to knock on a lot of doors and read a lot of rejection letters!
In your opinion, what can this step bring to your present career at the university? Are you excited about new career opportunities in the future?
I am looking for ways to do more research and writing. I always look for new opportunities.
What is the most rewarding thing about having written this book?
In this business, most accomplishments are very “subjective” and professors never get to see how their ideas influence future generations. But one of my friends, who has published five books, wrote to congratulate me, and these are his words: “Once you have a book, you are immortal.” That’s a humorous overstatement, of course, but it feels good to produce a physical book with my name on it. At least I will be able to see a solid result.
What advice can you give to other faculty? Or students?
I would prefer to express my gratitude for all the good advice that has been given to me over the years. A lot of “advice” and good ideas has come from discussing things with my students and colleagues (and listening to them).