The Joseph and Violet Magyar Lecture in Hungarian Studies

The Magyar Lecture Fund was established in 2014 with a generous gift from Violet Forgach Magyar, Ph.D., who is a triple alumna of Case Western Reserve University, having earned her B.A. in Biology from Flora Stone Mather College in 1950, her M.S. from the School of Library Science in 1972, and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Information Science in 1980. She retired as the Manager of Technical Information Services at The Glidden Company in 1994.  The Magyar Lecture Fund supports lectures and other scholarly interactions between faculty and students,  which offer an interdisciplinary exploration of Hungarian-related culture including literature, music, history, art, media, and politics. 

Past Magyar Lectures


Folksong and Ethnic Cleansing in Central Europe

Kelly St. Pierre

The study of folksong in Czechoslovakia became increasingly enmeshed with research on race and ethnicity through the twentieth century. Folk melodies appear alongside studies of phrenology and blood type as early as 1905. By the 1920s, the “purity” of folksong was understood to evidence the “purity” of a region’s people and, by extension, their political boundaries. In the 1930s, studies of “ethnogenesis” in folk music became so charged that they contributed to the deaths of musicologists Vladimír Helfert and Gustav Becking—Helfert, following his internment at the Nazi camp Terezín and Becking, during Czechoslovakia’s own post-war cleansing under the Košice program.

In her lecture, Kelly St. Pierre, Associate Professor of Musicology at Wichita State University, explored the increasing radicalization of Czech folk music research in the early twentieth-century as a means of illuminating the always-charged and sometimes life-threatening consequences of identity construction and - more problematically - prescription. More than establishing a repertoire, these music researchers sought to construct a Czech People in sound. Such  twentieth-century folksong studies, then, might best be understood as a tool of the state; an instrument of ethnonationalism not merely descriptive, but delineative of who belonged and who did not.


A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism in Hungary and Eastern Europe

For much of the twentieth century, Europe was haunted by a threat of its own imagining: Judeo-Bolshevism. This myth—that Communism was a Jewish plot to destroy the nations of Europe—was a paranoid fantasy. And yet fears of a Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy took hold during the Russian Revolution and spread across Europe. In this talk, Professor Hanebrink, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers, asked why the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism endured for so long in Hungary and Eastern Europe and what legacy this idea has left for contemporary politics in the region. 


Television and the Politics of Nostalgia in Hungary and Eastern Europe

Aniko Imre

In her lecture, Aniko Imre, Professor and Chair of the Division of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California, provided an overview of how television functioned in Hungary and, more broadly, in the Soviet-controlled region as a medium at the cross-section of the public and domestic spheres, between top-down attempts at political control and bottom-up demands for entertainment and consumption. It highlights some of the program types that were most favored by politicians, media producers and audiences, respectively; and zooms in on the continued popularity of some of these programs in the postsocialist era. She will demonstrate that television gives us a unique perspective on the enduring nostalgia for the everyday life of socialism.


Counter-Constitutions: How a 21st Century Constitutional Revolution in Hungary Claimed Medieval Roots

Kim Lane

Since independence in 1989, nationalist Hungarians have argued that the Holy Crown of St. Stephen and associated doctrines should be at the core of Hungary’s constitution. Kim Lane Scheppele – Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton University – discussed how the Crown is both a literal object given by the Pope to the first Christian king of Hungary, in the year 1000 and – since medieval times – a key symbolic touchstone in the constitution of state power. Professor Scheppele will examine how the Crown became an object venerated by the right and denigrated by the left of the Hungarian political spectrum.