Institute of Philosophy - Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Institute of English and American Studies - University of Debrecen, Hungary

The conference is supported by the Hungarian-Lithuanian joint project Conception of Creative City within Central Europe: Historical Images and Empirical Indices carried on within the framework of a bilateral agreement of the Hungarian and Lithuanian Academies of Sciences.

The venue of the conference: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of Philosophy

Address: 4 Tóth Kálmán Street, 1097 Budapest

Ferenc Hörcher


Institute of Philosophy, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences,




The City and the State: the Early Modern Battle and its Aftermath

Since the time of the birth of Bodin's The Six Books of the Republic (1576) it was obvious that the newly conceived state was interested in the breakdown of the autonomy of the city (or town, we use the two words interchangeably) in Europe. The battle between the newly constructed absolute state, obtaining full and undivided sovereignty over its subjects, and the cities, proud of their longstanding privileges and of their citizens' unquestioned immunities, had a very obvious reason: internal conflicts, civil wars and wars of religion endangered the unity of the territories controlled by crowns and the lives of their subjects. As we know it from the literature on urban Reformation, cities indeed played a major role in generating political and even military conflicts. Yet it is also obvious, that European cities had and still have rather important (in certain respects rising) political, economic and cultural functions which were underestimated by theorists of the sovereign state (beside Bodin one should mention here Hobbes's Leviathan, 1651). This paper presents the main arguments of courts to constrain the space of political manoeuvring for cities, and the most important arguments defending the preservation of urban freedoms. It will show why the state obvious won this battle, while also considering how (certain) cities managed to keep control in their hands - differentiating here between cities, which played political roles in the service of the state (most importantly capitals) and those which kept exercising a major impact because of their own economic or cultural output. Finally, it will look at the theoretical relevance of the battle for us, today, in Europe.

Eugenia Sarapina

PhD Student at Sorbonne Paris IV University,




Kyiv Modernities: Unveiling Contested Pasts

The ancient capital of Kyivan Rus' and a provincial town in the course of the XIX century, Kyiv undergoes a rapid modernization at the turn of the twentieth century. At that time, two epochs were juxtaposed in the urban space challenging city mythologemes. As the capital, Kyiv has always combined two memory narratives, a local one and a more generic one that reflected official founding myths of the state to which Kyiv belonged at that particular time. Imperial Kyiv, as a part of the Russian Empire, was conceived within myths of 'Jerusalem of the Rus' lands' and 'mother of the Rus' cities' that emphasized the Kyivan Rus' period of history coloured entirely, at that time, by the colonizers' discourse. However, the physical environment of Kyiv did not fit into these mythologies no more subverting visitors' expectations. Thus, in 1912 a traveller noted, 'walking along neat "European" streets with trams, cars and festively dressed houses, you feel slightly disappointed - where is ancient Kyiv?'

'The modern [...] as spleen shatters the ideal. But it is precisely the modern which always conjures up prehistory', wrote Walter Benjamin describing Baudelaire's vision of modernity. Thus, the modern of the turn of XX century revealed and to a certain extent induced the creation of city myths. In much the same way, the post(?)modern of XXI century makes visible the tension between an urge of succession and post-soviet collective amnesia. Ironically, contemporary Kyiv 'urban text' turns to the idealized image of the city of fin du siècle as the imaginary golden age and a source of (re)invented traditions in the unconscious desire to patch up the discontinuities of its turbulent history.

Iryna Papa

PhD Student

Ukrainian Catholic University




"En by i Rusland"1: the Danish representation of European periphery in the beginning of the XVIII century (based on Just Juel's "Rejse til Rusland")

This presentation will deal with some issues (i.e. city and countryside descriptions) that I have earlier examined through reading the travel diary written by the Danish ambassador Just Juel during his diplomatic mission to Muscovy (1709-1711)2. This ego-narrative was written according to the previously obtained instructions from the Danish officials and King Frederik IV. Thus, the author (i.e. Just Juel) had a certain goal and some previous ideas of Russia (i.e. from the books written by other travellers to Russia). Therefore his trip can be treated as a voyage to prove or disapprove the dominant tendency in the views of Russia as European periphery which was distant, uncivilized and savage.3 In addition, this travel account demonstrates the Danish perception to the Eastern Europe and its peripheral/provincial location on their mental map of Europe. It is planned:

to present the itinerary of this diplomatic mission;

to outline visited cities (capitals and towns), typical elements in its descriptions;

to compare the description of city and countryside;

to highlight the role of some aspects in formation of mental map of the region in that time (e.g. reading repertoire, personal communication, political circumstances etc.)

1 This expression was used in the article written by the well-known Danish slavist Peter Ulf Møller. It is a wide-spread expression in the Danish language which literally means "a city in Russia" but at the same time has its implicated meaning - "somewhere in the unknown country" (Møller, Peter Ulf (1993): "Hvordan russerne er. Et stykke dansk mentalitetshistorie" i Svend Aage Christensen og Henning Gottlieb: Danmark og Rusland i 500 år.

2 Just Juel had crossed many borders and visited a lot of cities and towns during his diplomatic trip: he started his travel from Denmark in 1709, crossed Northern Germany and Baltic region; travelled across the Russian empire in 1710; then on his way home in 1711 he visited the Cossack state, Ukrainian territories under Russia and Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Béla Mester

Senior Research Fellow

Institute of Philosophy, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences




Urbanity and Rurality of the Common Sense in the 19th-century Hungarian Philosophical Controversies

The idea of the link between the urban culture and philosophy is as ancient as Cicero's Tusculanae disputationes is. This topic of urbane philosophy has been connected with the term of common sense in the early modernity, since Shaftesbury's work, when the new phenomenon of the public philosophy has emerged as an answer to the turn of the structure of the European philosophical communication. The usage of the term 'common sense' went always hand by hand the considerations of the possibilities of the public philosophy in the period of the Scottish Enlightenment, German Populärphilosophie, and in the intellectual movements of East-Central Europe, including the Hungarian Reform Era (1825-1848). The above detailed process was on the focus of my previous researches within the framework of this project, exemplified mainly by Hungarian data. The topic of my planned presentation is the destruction of this common sense-tradition, based on Hegelian ideas, by János Erdélyi, as an argument of the greatest philosophical controversy of the Hungarian philosophical life in the 1850s. In Erdélyi's argumentation, the turn from the supposed urbanity to the supposed rurality of the common sense has a fundamental role. The idea of the rurality of the common sense has an influence to the Hungarian intellectual history of the next centuries, as well.

Gábor Kovács

Senior Research Fellow

Institute of Philosophy, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences,




City in modern cultural criticism: Lewis Mumford and István Hajnal

The critique of city is a central motif in the 20th century cultural criticism from the beginning. The Spenglerian cultural morphology is the most known example of it: modern city, the megapolis is a parasite sucking the blood of its environment. But it is an ambivalent conception: world history, for Spengler, is a history of cities. The peasant and its dwelling place, the village are outside of the historical time: Spengler uses an antithetical notion-pair: changing city - eternal village.

My paper's intent to give a parallel critical analysis of city-theories of the American Lewis Mumford and the Hungarian historian, István Hajnal, They were contemporaries and their ideas had been inspired by the interwar cultural criticism. Mumford didn't hate the city: it was, for him, the engine of history, a reservoir of cultural creativeness. The theory of Hajnal, from many respects, runs parallel with the conception of Mumford; what connects them is an ecological approach.

Teresa Nunes

Assistant Professor at School of Arts and Humanities /Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa. Researcher at Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, Portuguese

Frederico Benvinda

Master's Student in Modern and Contemporary History at at School of Arts and Humanities /Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa, Portuguese

Soraia Milene Carvalho

Master's Student in Modern and Contemporary History at School of Arts and Humanities /Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa, Portuguese




Portuguese Republican Perceptions on Central Europe

How Portuguese Republican movement observed Central Europe on the late 19th Century? Which were the main perceptions apprehended by Portuguese Republic on Central Europe's political and economic evolution during the first decades of 20th century, most especially after the Great War? And what perspectives were considered by Portuguese republican authors on diplomatic relations and the relevance of central Europe countries for the League of Nations?

The present communication intends to provide answer to the questions mentioned through the analysis of the works of three Portuguese republican authors: Zófimo Consiglieri Pedroso (1851-1910) brings us the analytical framework on European Political Relations at the end of 19th Century, most centred on the understanding regarding Russia and its relevance to European Diplomatic System; Ezequiel de Campos (1874-1965) offers a perspective on land reforms on Central Europe after the Great War and argues its importance to solve structural problems in Portuguese economy; last, António Bettencourt Rodrigues (1854-1933) considers the European geopolitics forged by Versailles Treaty and considers the new trends for diplomatic efforts during the twenties.

Basia Nikiforova

Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, Vilnius



Territory in the Time of Liquid Modernity: Zigmunt Bauman Endowment

The concept of liquid modernity proposed by Zygmunt Bauman suggests a rapidly changing order. It implies a sense of rootlessness to all forms of social constructions. Starting from the self-evident fact that the speed of all social processes and interactions increases, Bauman comes to the logical conclusion that space is gradually losing its value. His conclusion that poor countries, people are still bound to the place of birth, territory and the speed divides each concrete society into "advanced" and "backward" people will discussed through New materialism approach.The time of liquid modernity he named as "civilization zigzag", during which newly emerging nomadic peoples are becoming the vanguard of social and technological progress. Extraterritorial mobility becomes a symbol of progress, and excessive sedentariness is a sign of degradation.

In our presentation we will concentrate on such definitions as territory, border, refuges, strangers and its interpretation in Bauman endowment. At the same time, such Bauman's definitions as "non-linearities of space and time", "agency", "crisis of humanity' and "erosion of the moral compass" were used, developed and radicalized by Nicholas De Genova, Nick Vaughan-Williams, Serhat Karakayali, Brad Evans and Enrica Rigo. Using post-structuralist approach, they found critical resources for rethinking new context of the relationship between borders, refugees and practice on ground of Agamben, Derrida, Esposito and Foucault key ideas. This presentation attempts to analyse the ongoing biggest European refugee crisis as "civilization zigzag" and "diffraction pattern".

Prof. Dr. Tomas Kačerauskas

Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies

Faculty of Creative Industries

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University,



Vilnius as a historical periphery between Russian and Western centres from the strangers' point of view

After incorporation of Grand Duchy of Lithuania into Russian empire in the end of 18th century, Vilnius had become a city of periphery between two civilizations. In the paper, the image of Vilnius has been developed by considering the related spectrum of the strangers' acquaintance with the city. It is considered images of Vilnius formed by noteworthy Europeans who passed through there or spent some part of their life there, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Romain Gary, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Lev Tolstoy, Josif Brodsky, Mikhail Bakhtin, Vladimir Toporov, Aron Gurwitsch, and Czesław Miłosz. For some of them (Napoleon, F. Dostoyevsky), Vilnius was strange as a not yet assimilated territory. For others (L. Tolstoy, J. Brodsky), Vilnius was an important point of transition between geopolitical spheres. For some of them (R. Gary, M. Bakhtin), Vilnius was the environment of their maturation and a springboard to other cities. Vilnius has also been a city of studies and science (for J. G. A. Forster, Cz. Miłosz), a city that formed philosophical attitudes (M. Bakhtin, A. Gurwitsch), and a city of heritages: Russian (for F. Dostoyevsky, L. Tolstoy), Polish (Cz. Miłosz), German (A. Döblin, J. G. A. Forster), Jewish (A. Gurwitsch), pagan (V. Toporov). By appealing to the above mentioned images, the paper deals with relationship between the centre and a periphery, as well with the relationship between regionalism and of urban environments.

Dr. Basak Demirhan

Western Languages and Literatures Department

Bogazici University,



Cataloging the City: Figures of Shock in Popular Ethnographies of London and Istanbul

This paper is about three British and Turkish writers who aimed to create systematic and comprehensive inventories of urban life in their capitals. The 19th-century writers Henry Mayhew and Abdulaziz Bey struggle with the emergent shock of modernism in their ateempts to create exhaustive accounts of urban life. Their 20th-century counterpart Ekrem Kocu embraces a modernist aesthetics in his famously whimsical and incomplete Encyclopedia of Istanbul printed between 1944-1973. The endless lists of people, customs, and objects in all three projects create an uncontrollable flow that mimics the experience of urban life or more specifically what Walter Benjamin called a crisis of experience produced by capitalism and modernity. I compare the strategies adopted by Mayhew and Abdulaziz in order to incorporate illegitimate and ephemeral elements, such as thieves and vagabonds, into their seemingly scientific and orderly accounts of their cosmopolitan, imperial capitals. Then, I discuss the Eastern and Western notions of the relationship between tradition and modernization. I argue that uprooted, wandering, ephemeral actors of these urban scenes serve the important role of the modernist figure of shock in these writers' attempts to make their own modern shock meaningful. In the third section of the paper, I examine how Kocu embraced the vision of a flaneur in his work, aligning his own vision with that of the uprooted, ephemeral people of the city.

Aleksandr Sautkin,

PhD in Philosophy, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Social Studies, Murmansk Arctic State University

Murmansk, Russia


Elena Philippova,

Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy and Social Studies, Murmansk Arctic State University

Murmansk, Russia


Central European capitals in the mirror of horror-movies

The paper deals with the cinematic interpretations of Central Europe in the context of discussions about whether modernization means Westernization. The position is asserted that within Europe the ideal type of modernization is persistently associated with the West. The constructed in horror films images of central European capitals are analyzed, with the example of such films as "Short Night of Glass Dolls", "The Spider Labyrinth" and "Hostel". Prague, Budapest and Bratislava, represented in these films, are marked with features of pseudo-Modernity, which destroys the representatives of Western civilization or forces them to degenerate into monsters.

György Kalmár

University of Debrecen



Contested Modernities in Post-Communist Hungarian Cinema

My paper explores the image of the modern city created in two post-communist Hungarian films, Kontroll (Nimród Antall, 2003) and Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project (Kornél Mundruczó, 2010). Both films belong to "New Hungarian Cinema", the new generation of filmmakers that appeared in the first years of the new millennium. These films did not only receive widespread critical acclaim because of their fresh cinematic style, but also because they tended to evaluate the country's relation to its contested totalitarian past, as well as its dubious heritage in contemporary Hungary. Both films take place in Budapest, and both place the action in marginalised, claustrophobic spaces with rich figurative potential. The metro in Kontroll and the dilapidated house in Tender Son may stand for Eastern European post-totalitarian social space: they reflect the distorted, improper, unclean and often monstrous social formations of the region. Both films highlight the protagonists' relation to these allegorical spaces, thus commenting on the effects of these social-ideological-spatial formations on the human subject. With these spatial figurations as well as the narratives taking place in them these films draw complex and critical pictures of the modern Eastern European city and the formations of identity available in them, thus also affording more general insights into the region's complex relation to western cultural centres and the project of modernity associated with them.

Sándor Hites

Senior Research Fellow

Institute for Literary Studies, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences




Modern Capitals and Pre-Modern Capital (or the other way round?)

Finance, Crime and Society in the mid-C19th Urban Mystery Novel

The paper tackles the intertwining phenomena of rudimentary (financial) capitalization and the rise of modern capital cities in East-Central Europe through the international spread of a literary genre, the mind-nineteenth century urban mystery novel. The 1842-43 serialization of Eugène Sue's Les Mystères de Paris was immediately followed by countless translations and imitations, capitalizing on the sweeping success of the genre by depicting similar scenes of crime and misery from London to Lisbon, Vienna, Berlin and St. Petersburg. In a comparative analysis juxtaposing Sue's trendsetting work, George Reynolds' 1844 The Mysteries of London and the genre's numerous Hungarian adaptations between the 1840s and the 1870s (among others, Ignác Nagy's 1844-45 Magyar Secrets, L. Kuthy's 1846-47 Domestic Mysteries, and József Kiss' 1874 Mysteries of Budapest), I seek what is being lost and what is being added in the process of adaptation. This dynamic helps uncover what aspects proved less relevant from an East-Central European perspective on the "underworld" of modern urban environments (e.g. Sue's interest in working class movements and his increasingly socialist sympathies are missing from the Hungarian adaptations), and what, in turn, gained in relevance: e.g. in Hungary the genre helped introduce an awareness of the ongoing commercialization of society and a profound "financialization" of social bonds (i.e. the proliferation of Carlyle's "cash nexus" and the social mobility it had induced).

It is also noteworthy how the adaptations in the Eastern periphery came to stage the Western center which they set out to imitate by adopting the very particular literary form. The Hungarian Sue-imitations of the 1840s presented Pest-Buda, a fledgling Eastern metropolis, as an arena of Western speculation: they conspicuously featured foreigners and non-Magyars (Jews, Greeks, Germans, Frenchmen etc.) behind financial fraud. (And they used this feature to promote the nascent economic protectionism of the age, i.e. the prevention of national capital from flowing out of the country.)

As such, the Sue-type of (Western) urban mystery novel in its East-Central European (Hungarian) adaptations shows a curious mix of urban modernization and the survival of pre-modern social and financial forms.

Verita Sriratana, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor,

Lecturer at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University &

Deputy Director for Academic Affairs, Centre for European Studies at Chulalongkorn University



"and miraculously Post-Modern became Ost-Modern":

How On or About 1910 and 1924 Karel Čapek Helped to Add and Strike off the "P"

In an unsent letter (dated 10 November 1989) to April Gifford, an American scholar of Czech studies who had lovingly been given a nickname of "Dubenka" ("Duben" means "oak month" or "April" in the Czech language), Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) recounts his meeting with Susan Sontag (1933-2004) in New York where they "played a kind of literary ping-pong together". The rule of this game was for each of them to take turns saying the names of "writers and artists from the East". It went on and on, with the annunciation of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Franz Kafka (1883-1924), and Philip Roth (1933- ), among many others. This led to the revelation that the momentous changes which shaped and propelled the aesthetic and intellectual movement known as Modernism, as well as its continuation/aftermath, did not take place in the context and metropolises of Western Europe, but rather in those of Central & Eastern Europe. Hrabal's intellectual duel with Sontag, also one among those modern writers and artists "from the East", ended with a poignant conclusion: "And we rejoiced that, indeed, all you had to do was strike off the P, and miraculously Post-Modern became Ost-Modern... Then I clasped my head and exclaimed, But [sic] we totally forgot that other Ost-Modern... Andy Warhol". I propose in this paper that, among the pantheon of the names pronounced and acknowledged in the Ost-Modern match between two great minds, Karel Čapek (1890-1938) deserved his place as one of the first writers who helped to add and strike off the "P" in "POstmodernism". He did so as early as "on or about" 1910 and 1924, to appropriate the (in)famous (anti-)manifesto posited by Virginia Woolf (1882-1941): "On or about December 1910 human character changed" widely discussed among scholars of so-called High Modernism. However, it is easy to forget that Woolf's "On or about" (anti-)maxim was not articulated in the year 1910, but in the year 1924 in an essay originally published under the title "Character in Fiction" in the July issue of The Criterion, a journal edited by Hrabal's literary idol, TS Eliot (1888-1965). Hence 1924 is also an important Modernist year. Though Čapek and Woolf never sat down to a conversation in the way that Hrabal and Sontag did, their paths nevertheless crossed not only "on or about" 1924, but also "at and around" such unexpected place as the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, the largest "theme park" ever constructed in the history of Imperial spectacle. Among the visitors at the event which had been meticulously planned to promote the British Empire's image and boost Britain's economy, were 42-year-old Virginia and 34-year-old Karel. Both writers produced criticisms of and direct responses to the exhibition in the forms of-in Woolf's case-a scathing essay entitled "Thunder at Wembley", which has now become the quintessential work of Postcolonial Modernism, and-in Čapek's case-a (P)Ost-Modernisttravelogue later published as part of Letters from England, which would be translated into English in 1925 and banned by the Nazis as well as the Communists. This paper juxtaposes modernity in Central Europe with its "Other"-that in Western Europe-by exploring Woolf and Čapek's durée réelle between 1910 and 1924. It offers an analysis of Čapek's (P)Ost-Modern legacies, placing Prague right on the Modernist centre stage.

Zsófia Réti

University of Debrecen



Beneath or beyond: The waning of fantastic in Budapest

Fantastic literature tends to be more explicit about its rhetorical strategies than other kinds of fiction. With that in mind I argue that what Jameson calls "the waning of affect" due to the depthlessness of postmodernism, to a certain extent, can be regarded as parallel to the "fantasy of thinning", outlined by Farah Mendlesohn. The present paper focuses on a contemporary urban fantasy representation of Budapest, A láthatatlan város (The Invisible City) by Sándor Szélesi, and claims that the above point can be well demonstrated in connection with the volume, both in the use of spatial metaphors related to depth and surface reflections, and the permanent uncertainty of the relationship between the author and the narrator, as it is condensed in the problem of the proper name. The paper concludes that Szélesi's work can be regarded as an immersive/liminal fantasy, which claim may help to revaluate the layout of central and peripheral spaces in the book.

Agnes Gyorke, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer

Department of British Studies

University of Debrecen



On the Periphery: Zsuzsa Bánk's The Swimmer

Zsuzsa Bánk's The Swimmer, published in 2002, depicts everyday life in Hungary between 1956 and the late 1960s from the perspective of a child narrator, Kata, whose life unfolds in a series of snapshots in the text. The novel addresses issues such as migration, trauma, dislocation and cultural memory from a transnational angle, dramatically intertwining political history and the family's narrative. After Kata's mother flees to Germany, the family is left in disarray, constantly on the move: characters learn to keep themselves afloat both literally and metaphorically in a profoundly claustrophobic world. Budapest and Hungarian villages appear in the novel as blurry, even unnamed places, just like the events of 1956, which acquire an intense yet unspeakable emotional significance in the novel. As I argue in this paper, none of these places attain a central role in The Swimmer, but rather, it is the constant movement between locations that characterises everyday life in Kata's narrative. In other words, The Swimmer foregrounds the intensification of emotion and attachment to places in movement, challenging Fredric Jameson's notion of the waning of affect in the postmodern age.

Anett Schäffer

PhD student, Doctoral School of Literary Studies, University of Miskolc



Translocality and City in Zsuzsa Rakovszky's Prose

Despite their many differences Zsuzsa Rakovszky's novels have one aspect in common: locality and translocality play an important role in them. In the novels cities represent the rules of the society, and the different places can have different rules, to which the characters, who move between them, has to adapt. This movement can be forced by the alteration of the circumstances, the failure of adaptation or the transgression of the rules. Entering into a new place and a new set of rules can cause the change of identity. An example for this phenomenon is the protagonist's identity changes in A kígyó árnyéka (The Shadow of the Snake), Orsolya travels between Leutschau, Ödenburg and Güns, and her identity always drastically changes when she leaves a city and her role in that city behind. In my presentation I analyse how the different cities and the countryside appear in the novels, how the travel between the cities is depicted and how the characters' identity is defined by the different places.

Zsolt Győri, Ph.D.

University of Debrecen



The Underground Capital: Space, Dissensus and the Art of Invisibility

Within the aesthetico-political regime of state socialism certain cultural practices were officially rejected and rendered invisible. The shortcomings of utopian communism, non-egalitarian access to the public sphere, and western influence were all part of the historical conditions for the emergence of the Budapest underground music scene and the appearance of subcultural spaces in 1980s capital. Official procedures of assigning these practices to the sphere of the invisible will be examined through Jacques Ranciere's theories about the 'distribution of the sensible', the distribution of spaces, times, and forms of communal activities. I argue that resistance to a political regime which prescribed what must be said and what cannot be said was designed to shift the partition lines of the sensible and bring into focus a dissensus with domesticated forms of art and subjectivity.

Cinematic representations of the underground subculture - present in films like Gábor Bódy's A kutya éji dala (The Dog's Night Song, 1983), András Szirtes' A pronuma bolyok története (The History of the Pronuma Pack, 1983), Péter Müller's Ex-kódex (Ex-Codex, 1983), András Wahorn's Jégkrémbalett (Ice-cream Ballet, 1984), János Xantus's Eszkimó asszony fázik (Eskimo Woman Feel Cold, 1984) and parts of Rocktérítő (Rock Missionary, 1988), Béla Tarr's Őszi almanach (Autumn Almanach, 1984), and Mária Sós' Városbújócska (Tandem, 1985 - did not intent to reconfigure the existing distribution of the sensible but exercise the disruptive capacity of the underground culture by capturing it as it was: an invisible space. The spatial poetic of the cinema of new sensibility, as it was termed at the time, will be explored with regard to metropolitan spaces (lecture theatres, boulevards, concert halls, apartments) which arranged bodies, subjectivities, sounds and words disinterested in subscribing to artistic norms and specific interpretations. I describe the art of invisibility as a form of creativity which creates dissensus, pursues fragmented narration without well-rounded stories to tell, and lacks an intended audience only an active involvement in an unselfconscious being together.

Imola Bülgözdi, Ph.D.

assistant professor

Institute of English and American Studies

University of Debrecen



The Portrayal of the Borderlands in György Dragomán's The White King

and the Othering of the Communist Past in Its Film Adaptation

This paper investigates how György Dragomán's 2005 novel, The White King complicates the modernist dichotomy of the urban centre and the forgotten countryside in Transylvania during the Communist regime. Due to its turbulent historical past, the region qualifies as a "national borderland" in Robert Nemes's definition, that is a region of "ethnographic diversity contested by competing national activists" ("Mapping the Hungarian Borderlands" 2013), in most cases situated culturally or geographically far from the locus of power. The novel is a first-person account of two years in the life of a Hungarian boy in his early teens, whose hybrid identity and social practices are informed by dictatorship, giving ample room for the postmodern questioning of the grand ideological narratives upheld by the state via multiple border-crossings.

The 2016 eponymous film adaptation (dir. Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel), however, presents an outsider's view of a dystopian tyranny, and is unable to surpass the predictable contrast of an agrarian, militarized countryside and the sinful but alluring urbanized West. This approach fails to shed light on the intricate web of allegiances that borderland populations had to navigate, and at the same continues the western tradition of othering the Communist Bloc, although borderlands by definition challenge clear-cut categorization due to their liminality.

Gábor György Papp

Research Fellow

Institute for Art History, Research Centre for the Humanities,

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest



Otto Wagner and the National Architecture in Hungary

In my paper I investigate the conflicting ideals of nationalism and/or modernism through a scarcely known story; through an early 20th-century episode from the history of the discourse on national art and arcitecture, one that bears significance to architecture history, urbanism and the formation of national identity alike.

In 1915 Otto Wagner, the leading figure of modern architecture in Central Europe, was asked to share his thoughts on the possibilities of modern and national architecture with his Hungarian colleagues. The elderly Austrian master replied in a letter that was published in one of the most prominent Hungarian architectural journals of the day, the Vállalkozók Lapja. He was of the opinion that the primary goal of architecture was functionality and rationality, and that the search for national characteristics was pointless, or, seen from the perspective of the modern city, directly irrelevant. Wagner's letter provoked heated debates within the Hungarian community of architects and the polemics that evolved in the following months give insight into the dissension of this community. One group sympathized with Wagner's views, while the other categorically rejected them.

Proceeding from Wagner's letter and the following polemics I will discuss various questions concerning the early 20th-century ideas on modernism and/or nationalism. How does Wagner's view fit into the context of his work? To what extent were his opinions already present in Hungary and then shared by Hungarian architects? What was the position and the role of Wagner's letter and the debate that arose from it in the more than half-century-long history of the discourse on national architecture? It is also worth considering how the 1915 reanimation of the already outdated ideals of a national architecture affected and determined the direction of the reopened discourse on modern versus national-historical architecture in the next decades.

Borbála Jász

assistant lecturer

Department of Philosophy and History of Science

Budapest University of Technology and Economics



The Great Architectural Debate: Continuity of Modern and the Socialist Realist Gap in eastern Central-Europe

In the 20th century the architectural debate between form and function was significant all over Europe. In eastern Central-Europe historical forms returned to the form-language of architecture after WW2. The Soviet worldview was the dominant ideological system with a motto: "socialist by content, national by form". After WW2 the modernism in construction was continued. From the beginning of the 1950s architects had to use the form-language of socialist realism in socialist states.

After the international theoretic grounding I will analyse the standpoints of the 'great architectural debate' in Hungary (1951). On the one hand, Mate Major represented the communist-social democratic view of modern architecture and urban design. On the other hand, socialist realism was manifested by the tenets of Imre Perenyi. In spite of these intensions with the Khrushchevian architectural turn in 1954 socialist realism was finished, and the late modern became dominant in the whole territory of Europe.

Melinda Harlov-Csortán

PhD candidate

Atelier Department of European Social Sciences and Historiography at Eötvös Loránd University,




Heritagizing the countryside in Hungary

For long decades in Hungary, buildings of the villages had not been seen as valuable examples of fine arts, also the inhabitants and their lifestyle were outdated. A change in the evaluation happened in the second part of 20th century that led to the vivid history of vernacular architecture protection heavily supported by the leading Socialist ideology existed until 1989. Vernacular heritage, including applied art and intangible heritage elements, was significant part of the state propaganda and a useful tool for universalizing minority policy. The proposed presentation covers the period between World War II and 1989, with special focus on the late 1950s to early 1980s as that can be called the golden age of vernacular monument and tradition protection. Normative texts, case studies and documentations of workshops and conferences (such as the Bi-annual Békés Conference of Vernacular Architecture since 1970s) are researched and compared with contemporary analysis to decode the ideological influence. The aim is to understand the dual effect of cherishing countryside values and turning them into a periphery state.