Guest lecture: Utopia in Central Europe

Zsolt Cziganyik
(English Department at ELTE, Budapest)

24 April 2024 (Wednesday) at 14:00 CET
Institute of World Literature SAS + online



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Utopia is situated in no-man’s land between literature, social philosophy and the social sciences, where literary and socio-political factors interact. Historian Péter Hanák has argued that Central Europe is a region where reality and utopia have always mingled. In my presentation I would like to reflect on both concepts: how utopian literary works reflect the social and political reality, and how this genre that stemmed from Western Europe was received and developed in our region. I intend to outline briefly how I understand the concept of utopia and the changing concept of Central Europe in its liminal position between East and West. Based on my studies in English and Hungarian utopian literature, I would like to present our ongoing project as the leader of the Democracy in East Central European utopianism research group that aims to outline the specific features of Central European utopias, such as their national character. As this is very much a work in progress, I am also counting on the input of the scholars of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

Zsolt Czigányik (1974) is Associate Professor in the English Department at ELTE, Budapest, and the leader of the research group Democracy in East Central European utopianism funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation at Central European University. He is the secretary of the Utopian Studies Society. His research focus is modern utopian and dystopian literature. His recent monograph, Utopia Between East and West in Hungarian Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023), investigates the utopian tradition in Hungarian literature.