Introduction to Hungarian Studies
This course carries Culture Studies credit
What distinguishes Hungary and Hungarians from neighboring countries and ethnic groups? In what ways has Hungarian culture drawn on the cultures that surround it? Since they migrated from Central Asia to Central Europe, arriving at the end of the ninth century, the Hungarians established themselves as an important presence, at first through their military prowess in raids across the continent and later through their cultural and scientific contributions. Yet their position at the crossroads of Central Europe has also left them vulnerable, and ethnic Hungarian settlements have been ruled over the centuries by Austria, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and Ukraine, among others. In the context of this turbulent history many Hungarians have worked to distinguish and preserve the purely Hungarian from outside threats; yet one side effect of this history is a culture whose richness owes something to influences of its neighbors.
This course introduces students to major issues in Hungarian Studies, from the migration to the present. After a survey of the geography of the country, we will explore the definition of Hungarian identity and the problems arising around this definition over the centuries, with particular reference to issues of ethnicity, religion, and culture, both high (literature, classical music) and low (folk art and music, film, popular music). In addition to active participation, requirements include a book review, a take-home midterm exam, and a research paper.