Indiana University Bloomington
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Village Life, Folk Art, Dance and Music Traditions in Hungary
CEUS-U 320/U520
Agnes Fulemile

Hungary has a uniquely wide spectrum of recent folk dance and music scene rising out from the so-called “dance-house movement”, an urban youth movement in the period of late socialism since the 1970-80s. Young people, who were searching for the “authentic” tradition of the “undisturbed” village life, started relearning dance and music from remarkable personalities of peasant performers in the “field” within Hungary and in the neighboring countries. Ethnomusicology (Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály as prominent pioneers), dance study and ethnography provided academic background.

In the countries of East Central Europe many people has been living in the rural countryside who belonged to tightly knit local communities with rich network of human connections, strong feelings of loyalty and solidarity, sharing and displaying common ideals, esthetics and cultural expressions. They could richly supply themselves with non-material values such social occasions, feasts, joy, entertainment to such an extent that they could balance the vain of material goods of their self-denying every day life. The rich regional traditions of peasant costume, architecture, decorated objects with special symbolism, folk poetry, music and dance evolved gradually from the late medieval and early modern antecedents, had peak periods in the 19th and early 20th century and has been disintegrating during the 20th century up to recent days. The long-lived semi-feudalism and agrarian economy ensured that peasant culture had a late flourishment and a long afterlife. The discovery of peasant culture by non-peasants (elite, artists, scholars, urban middle class etc.) is part of the scene of the period of national awakening, embourgeoisment, inter-war period and communism. The evolution, the use and the reinterpretations of the concept of the “folk” played an essential role in the “invention” of East-Central European national cultures and ideologies. Various different forces and groups, movements and parties discovered, represented, often exploited and corrupted what they had meant by folk culture.

There will be an emphasis on interpreting phenomena in its social history and East-Central European regional context. The material is partly based on the field‑experience of the instructor; field-photos, music and dance recordings will be used for illustration.



Midterm Exam: 4-6 pp take home essay pp (30 %)

Final Exam: term paper, 7-8 pp for undergrads, 10-l2 pp grads (50%)

Seminar work: class activity, reading reports, seminar presentation (20 %)