History, Medieval studies

In co- cooperation with the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte, Göttingen and the Open Society Archives, Budapest

Course date

30 June - 11 July, 2003
Application deadline:
15 February, 2003
Course Director(s): 

Gabor Klaniczay

Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Vienna, Austria/ Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Neven Budak

University of Zagreb, Philosophy, Zagreb, Croatia

Patrick Geary

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), History, Los Angeles, United States of America

József Laszlovszky

Cultural Heritage Studies Program/Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary / Vienna, Austria

Erno Marosi

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Art History, Budapest, Hungary

Zbigniew Dalewski

Polish Academy of Science, Institute of History, Warsaw, Poland

Evangelos Chrysos

National Hellenic Research Foundation, Institute for Byzantine Studies, Athens, Greece

Gabor Gyani

Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Guest Speaker(s): 

Peter Erdosi

Miskolc University, Department of Central-European Literature and Culture, Miskolc, Hungary

Bela Zsolt Szakacs

Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

The course intends to explore a most topical issue connected with the Middle Ages: its "use" and "misuse" in the political and cultural discourse–as well as activity - of our times, with special reference to Central and Eastern Europe. The notion of a "new Middle Ages" has a slightly different meaning in this region. Here national self-identification is heavily leaning on the medieval past, as for several nations that was the (real or legendary) age of "greatness" followed by decline, incorporation into multinational empires, dismemberment and "foreign rule". Conversely, events of cooperation in the region, fruitful in the remote past, are called upon to justify and underwrite recent attempts at the same. Finally, the diverse attitudes to surviving (or unearthed) remains of the medieval past have acquired crucial symbolic value for internal and external forces alike. Just as totalitarian governments have destroyed or glorified monuments according to their preference (at home and abroad), so contemporary ones make a show of ancient jewels or castles or bomb the bridges of their enemies. In a less violent and manipulated manner, the presentation, (re)construction of past edifices and objects serve definite political and ideological aims.

Without opting for some idealistic "objectivity", the seminars and round-tables of this course will explore the bases of this kind of "instrumentalization". It will discuss the performance of experts in this field, supportive or critical, and the implications of governmental and non-governmental policies in respect to the future of cultural heritage, history-writing and teaching in the region. A comparative perspective, including Western Europe, may be able to place all this in a wider historical and intellectual context.