Váňa Jan

Period of stay: January – March 2021

Evaluation sheet for departing Fellows

  1. What would you consider to be the major benefits of your stay at IWM?

Even though people at the IWM aren’t happy about the current situation, I have to say that it was perhaps the best place to be during the current situation. Everyday routine of going to the office, having lunch at the same time (which, by the way, was excellent!), having some sort of a limited interaction with other fellows… All of this is just amazing in comparison to being locked at home for the so-called home office. After all, I found out that I have been exceptionally productive (two published papers, acceptance to Yale…). Even though it was probably very different experience than most of the fellows had in previous times, I am grateful what how the IWM handled the situation and provided work and social conditions as good as was actually possible.

  1. Was the event programme of the IWM attractive and interesting for you?

It was an interesting eye-opener totally outside of my discipline. At his point, when I focus primarily on finishing my thesis, I would not dedicate that much time to research outside of sociology and literature. I appreciate especially the regular colloquia with preliminary distributed papers and the space for discussion. It “forced” me to look outside of my usual disciplinary bubble.

  1. Do you have any criticisms of any aspect of the Institute’s program and operations?
    Please include any suggestions for improvement.

I understand that the online format for discussions is still an unexplored terrain. I would generally suggest making the sessions longer. I often felt that when it started to be interesting, the moderator jumped in and stopped the session maybe a bit too harshly. What works very well at my department in Brno is that the participants are told at the beginning that they are free to disconnect at any time and the session will run as long as there are any questions. Sometimes it is one hour but sometimes there is a plenty of enthusiasm even after three hours. This is one of the few advantages of the online discussion format, so why not to make the best out of it.

The carpet in my office on the fifth floor was just awful – stains from spilled liquids, hair… I think it was not vacuum cleaned during my whole stay, probably because the floor is posited in the mid-section where the elevator does not stop. I would say that it decreases a good feeling from otherwise very cosy office.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to let us know regarding your stay at the IWM?

I never had such a high quality regular food, both regarding nutrition and taste. Simply wunderbar!

Final Report sheet for departing Fellows

As mentioned in the “Terms of Award” agreement, we would kindly ask you to submit your final report on your activities, travels, talks and accomplishments during your research stay. Please be as specific and concise as possible!

In particular, we may ask you to list books or essays that have been written or worked on at the IWM, that have either been published or accepted for publication or that you wish to submit for publication. Describe briefly the nature of the work and give names of publishers or publications, dates and other relevant facts.

We would be very grateful if you could provide us with a copy of your publication(s) for our library or, if this is not possible, contact our librarian with the publication details. We would also like to ask you to list any prizes or awards you have received or will receive, as well as any scholarships and grants you have received or will receive.

For the sake of conciseness, I will list the required items in chronological order.


  • January 5, publication of academic paper in a special issue “Social Order and Art Sources of Imaginations”
  • February 18, essay on writing literary fiction during a creative residence in lockdown, for Czech literary magazine HOST
  • March 4, academic paper accepted for publication in American Journal of Cultural Sociology, expected publication in April 2021.
    • VÁŇA, (2021). Knowing through feeling: the aesthetic structure of a novel and the iconic experience of reading. American Journal of Cultural Sociology [forthcoming]
  • March 29, interview with the Czech writer Jáchym Topol for Spanish literary magazine
  • During the whole stay, I have been finalizing my dissertation thesis, which is to be submitted on April


  • March 1, talk at the IWM colloquium: “The Sociological Truth of Fiction: the Post- Communist Novel as Social Theory of Normalization in Czechoslovakia”
  • March 10, guest lecture in the course “Sociology of Communism” at the Masaryk University [online]

Prizes, awards, scholarships

  • February, I was nominated for the Dean’s Prize for the best PhD student at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University. The prize will be announced in June
  • March 17, I was granted the Fulbright-Masaryk Scholarship for a 10-months stay at Yale, at the Center for Cultural Sociology, starting from September