Introduction to Hungarian Culture — HUC

Instructor: Márta SIKLÓS

The aim of this course is to give you an opportunity to explore certain aspects of Hungarian attitudes, thinking and cultural traditions. The notion and scope of "culture" being nearly all-encompassing and to a large extent also very individual, what this course can claim is to trace basic trends and themes, as well as to highlight the figures and works of some of the most outstanding representatives of Hungarian history and politics, literature, music, film and fine art. With the twentieth century in our focus, an essential context for the works discussed will be the historical one, serving more as a background and starting point in class discussions. You will also be encouraged to take advantage of learning about Hungarian culture "live", and, depending on interest, our program will include visits to the Opera, the National Gallery or the National Theatre/ Palace of Arts.

Classes will be run basically in a seminar form, with lectures reduced to a necessary minimum. Besides, you will also be asked to contribute with short presentations that are related and relevant to the actual topic of the class. In the syllabus, you will find the possible themes for these presentations marked with an asterisk.

During the term, you will be required to

Course evaluation will be based on the following criteria:
Preparation - participation 30 %
Midterm paper 20%
Presentation(s) 20 %
Final project 30 %
Attendance is mandatory - more than 3 absences will result in failing the class.


  1. Introduction. A brief overview of Hungarian history.
    The showing of the film Football of the Good Old Days by Pál Sándor
  2. "The Nation Ideal" - Profiles of 3 politicians: Kossuth, Széchenyi, Deák and its reflection in
    19th century poems by Kölcsey, Vörösmarty, Petofi and Arany
    19th century music - Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel
    19th century architecture - Pollák, Lechner
  3. The Turn of the Century
    Discussion of F.Molnár's book The Paul Street Boys
    The making of Budapest ( some notes on the architecture of the city)
    Profiles of PM Kálmán Tisza, Industrialist Manfred Weiss, Poet Endre Ady, Painters Szinyei Merse and Csontváry, T.K.
  4. An introduction into 20th c. Hungarian history in pictures
    The showing of I.Szabó's film Sunshine
  5. Hungary b/w the two world wars Part I
    Profiles of two politicians -M. Horthy , Governor of Hungary and PM I.Bethlen
    The poetry of Attila József
    Presentation and discussion of the novel Anna Édes by D. Kosztolányi
    The music of Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók
    Famous cafes in Budapest
    Some examples of early 20th c. Hungarian architecture
  6. Hungary b/w the two world wars Part II
    see above
  7. Socialist Hungary and the revolution of 1956 Part I
    Profiles of two politicians - Imre Nagy and János Kádár
    Writings by Örkény, Esterházy, Nádas
    The "Golden" Soccer Team
    Growing up in the 60s- the showing of P.Gothár's film Time Stands Still
  8. Socialist Hungary and the revolution of 1956 Part II
    see above
  9. The Change of Regime
    Profiles of J. Antall, first PM and Árpád Göncz, first President of new Hungary
    Writings by Gy.Petri and Sándor Tar
  10. Discussion of the novel Fateless by Imre Kertész
  11. Contemporary Hungarian film - Individual (optional) presentations the showing of A.Nimród's "cult film" Control
  12. Final Projects - wind-up.
2 classes are reserved for gallery or opera visits and the midterm exam