Proceedings of the 11 th Conference of the Hungarian Society
for the Study of English
Proceedings of the 11 th Conference of the Hungarian Society
for the Study of English
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© Veronika Ruttkay and Bálint Gárdos, 2014
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Veronika Ruttkay and Bálint Gárdos
Changing (the) Subject?
ANDREW C.ROUSE The Problem with Culture: The uncomfortable bedfellow of the traditional English foreign language department
Memory Traces: Word and Image
LILIANE LOUVEL Hunting, Investigating and Excavating the Past: Effects of the word/image apparatus and photography
ESZTER SZÉP Building Visual Archives of Space in W. G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair
ANDREA HÜBNER Elements of Pilgrimage in Non-Religious Contexts: Non- places and “lieux de memoire” in film location tourism KATA ANNA VÁRÓ The 1970s in British Cinema and Film History: A
“disappointingly thin filling” or a period of immense change?
GYULA SOMOGYI The River and the Uncanny Topography of “Found Footage”
Celtic, Old English, and Middle English Legacies
ANDREA BÖLCSKEI Traces of Ancient Celtic Religiosity in the Place Names of the British Isles
ZSUZSA ZÁVOTI Scín—An Imported Sickness Afflicting Demon?
TIBOR TARCSAY Resignation A and B: A new translation with analysis
ZSUZSANNA PÉRI-NAGY From Pagina to Pulpitus: Variations of late-medieval strategies from the manuscript page to performance
ZSUZSANNA SIMONKAY False Brotherhood in Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale / Part 1:
Sworn brotherhood and Chaucer’s sources on friendship DOROTTYA JÁSZAY Creating the Beast: The Wife of Bath on the page and on the
screen The Renaissance and Beyond
ZITA TURI Mirrors of Fools: The iconography of folly in the sixteenth century
ERZSÉBET STRÓBL Symbolic and Real Loci in John Lyly’s Euphues Books: The significance of Naples, Athens and London
MARCELL GELLÉRT The “Artifice of Eternity”: The triumph of mime in The Winter’s Tale
MÁRTA HARGITAI Prospero’s Island as “Bank and Shoal of Time”: Time, timing and time gaps in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Tempest
103 113 126
“In the Beginning”: Genesis 1:1 in Milton’s Paradise Lost Poetry
GÁBOR ITTZÉS RÉKA MIHÁLKA
Paradise Challenged: Ezra Pound’s Canto 20 Fiction /1: Rereading the Classics
OANA-ROXANA IVAN The Key to Universal Quixotism: Cervantes’ Influence on Sterne’s Tristram Shandy
ZSÓFIA ANNA TÓTH Lady Susan as the Great Exemplar of Dysfunctional Parenthood in Jane Austen’s Fiction
Fiction /2: Approaching the Contemporary
BIANCA FOGHEL Nekyia or The (Under)World of the Unconscious
ESZTER TORY “Temptation to Believe” in Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
MELINDA DABIS In the Vortex of the Mind: Interpreting The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
ANNA BIRÓ-PENTALLER “From Past Tense to Future Perfect”: Grand Narratives and Omniscient Narration in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth
ÉVA PATAKI “The Wilderness of Solitude”: Diasporic spaces and subjectivity in Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers and Meera Syal’s Anita and Me
Fiction/3: Popular Modes
BALÁZS SÁNTA Dream and Reality: “Absurdity” in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
SILVIA BAUČEKOVÁ Tea, Scones, and Kidney Pies: Food, the British, and the Others in the Novels of Agatha Christie
RENÁTA ZSÁMBA “How are you getting on with your forgetting?”: The Past and the Present in Margery Allingham’s and Josephine Tey’s Crime Fiction
KORINNA CSETÉNYI Symbols of Difference and Haunting in the Works of Stephen King
ZSUZSANNA TÓTH Eve Discovering Adam or the Bloom of Romance: Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy
ANIKÓ SOHÁR Wingless Bees, See-Through Goblets, Walking Plants and the Like: Novels by Philip K. Dick in Hungarian
Cognitive features and the reader’s mind
NADA BUZADŽIĆ Narrative Strategies in Ann Beattie’s Short Fiction NIKOLAJEVIĆ
KATALIN G.KÁLLAY Common Place vs. Communicative Space: Versions of Inspiration and Suffocation in Carson McCullers’ Ballad of the Sad Café
PÉTER TAMÁS Protean Saints: The Problem of Parabolicity in Two of Salinger’s Short Stories
ATTILA DÓSA Mental Illness in the Family: A. L. Kennedy’s Short Fiction American Studies
ANDRÁS TARNÓC Passion on the frontier, Passion on the plantation: A comparative look at the use of religion in the Indian captivity narrative and the slave narrative
BALÁZS VENKOVITS Revisiting the Legacy of János Xántus: An Inter-American Approach
GABRIELLA TÓTH Plays of Memory in Memory Plays: The Relived Past in Works of Tennessee Williams and Adrienne Kennedy MÁRTA ÓTOTT Re-Ritualization in American Experimental Theater and
Drama in and after the 1960s
JUDIT ÁGNES KÁDÁR Multicultural Identity Negotiation in Some Recent Southwestern Mixed-Blood Poems
GYÖRGY BORUS The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the Glorious Revolution
ISTVÁN KORNÉL VIDA Abraham Lincoln and Slavery: The Myth of the “Great Emancipator” Revisited
ÁGNES BERETZKY John Stuart Mill Revisited: James Fitzjames Stephen’s Criticism and Interpretation of Liberty
ZOLTÁN PETERECZ A Special Friendship of Bankers: Harry Siepmann and Lipót Baranyai
JULIA FODOR Obama’s Birth Control Mandate v. Religious Liberty Cultural Linguistics
BEATRIX BALOGH “Digesting” History: The role of metaphors in writing and reading history with special focus on U.S. international relations
DANYANG KOU Metonymies in Colors and Color-Related Phrases in the Chinese Language
AND TIBOR LACZKÓ Challenges and Solutions in an LFG-based Computational Project
ENIKŐ TÓTH On Proximal and Distal Demonstratives in English and Hungarian
PÉTER A.LÁZÁR The Urban Dictionary: Collective “meaning-making” meets bad dictionary making
FRANCIS J.PRESCOTT Using a Virtual Learning Environment to Augment Classroom Learning at University
GYULA TANKÓ Investigating English Majors’ Individual Differences Through AND KATA CSIZÉR Their Argumentative Essays
EDIT H.KONTRA Pre-service Teachers’ Beliefs about Language Learning ÁGNES T.BALLA The Role of L2 English Vocabulary in Identifying Novel L3
ZSUZSANNA DÉGI The Role of Romanian in Learning English: The Case of Transylvania
JUDIT HARDI Interviews with Young Learners about their Vocabulary Learning Strategies
This volume contains 58 papers, originally presented at the 11th Conference of the Hungarian Society for the Study of English, which was hosted by Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, in January 2013. Other contributions have been published in various other venues—a large number of them in Filológiai Közlöny (2013/4), devoted to the upcoming Hungarian History of English Literature project. Our collection offers a broader survey of papers produced by scholars from eighteen different higher education institutions in Hungary and abroad, representing cutting-edge work in various disciplines from Literary and Cultural Studies to History, Cultural Linguistics, Linguistics, and Language Pedagogy.
The volume opens with a provocatively subjective take on the most recent re- configurations of our broader subject—“English”—focusing on the shifting place of
“culture” among disciplines in flux. As if to prove Andrew Rouse’s diagnosis, the editors of the present volume were often reminded of Borges’s famous Chinese encyclopaedia, which classifies animals as “(a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame”—and this is just the beginning of it. Nevertheless, our taxonomy was devised to reflect the richness and diversity of work done in this Protean field. The sections on literature and culture are organised around concepts of genre (as in
“Poetry”), literary period (“The Renaissance and Beyond”), theme (“Memory Traces”) and geography (“American Studies”), at times even combining a few of these (as in the different sub-chapters on “Fiction”). Nevertheless, there are numerous questions and concepts linking papers otherwise very different in their topics and scholarly angles.
Such concepts include translation between languages and cultures, cognitive mappings, intermediality, the new media, and (especially in literary papers) questions of cultural memory, space and place, the body, and visual culture. Needless to say, readers are invited to range freely across the divisions and to make their own connections.
A collection on this scale could not have been produced without the professional help of many people. We would like to thank our academic readers from the School of English and American Studies: Enikő Bollobás, Katalin Halácsy, Éva Illés, Péter A.
Lázár, Miklós Lojkó, and those who wish to keep their names undisclosed. Without
PhD student Hajnalka Lukács, who helped us through many a setback during the initial stages of the editing process. We are grateful to Dániel Levente Pál from Eötvös Kiadó, and to Péter Váradi from L’Harmattan Publishing House, who helped to make this collection available for readers both electronically and in print. Above all, we would like to thank our contributors for their patience and professionalism.
Budapest, 25 November 2014
Veronika Ruttkay and Bálint Gárdos Eötvös Loránd University
The Problem with Culture:
The uncomfortable bedfellow of the traditional English foreign language department
The present paper is the result of two presentations at conferences, the former to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of English studies at Juraj Strossmayer University, Osijek (October, 2012), and the latter the 2013 HUSSE conference at ELTE University, Budapest, traditionally held at the end of January. Its original construction is somewhat more anecdotal than is usual in an academic conference, the reason partly being that the author is on the verge of celebrating his own thirty-fifth anniversary as a lecturer of English in Hungary, first, between 1979–1982, as a guest native speaking lecturer (anyanyelvi lektor), on a twice-extended one-year contract with the Hungarian ministry of education to teach one semester each at the colleges of education in Eger and Pécs, and since 1982 at the newly-formed university in Pécs. It is perhaps telling that one of the opening keynote presentations at the HUSSE 2013 conference was on a cultural theme—food. It should, however, be noted that already at the 2005 EASA (European Association for Studies of Australia) Conference held in Debrecen there were papers delivered on subjects as diverse as Bollywood movies filmed in Australia (and Hungary!) and the Australian wine industry, demonstrating a potential for [(Geographical location) + Studies] far outstripping what foreign language departments and institutes, which are only just coming to terms with cultural studies at all, would be at present happy to accept. At the other end of the spectrum, it must be allowed that we have come a long way further than some other foreign language institutes, which still narrow down studies, and especially thesis topics, to linguistics and literature. Moreover, conflicting information reaches students: one student of English and French at Pécs university was informed by a member of the French department staff that only literature and linguistics topics would be accepted for theses, which goes against even the identity of the head of department—a historian, who has supplied me with different data, as will be seen below.
It seems a long time ago, but only a couple of decades or so have passed in English higher education in Hungary since “methodology” (módszertan) has been recognised, renamed and in Pécs given departmental status in 1998 as part of a wider discipline named applied linguistics. Even more recent is the perplexing variety of disciplines and approaches that have emanated from something once called “civilization”
(civilizáció). Backed by a prodigious and ever-growing stream of professional and
course literature, both have proven themselves on the university library shelves, yet scepticism seems to prevail longer and more hardened as regards “culture”, as it is so amorphous. At one moment it is history, at another theory, a third instant and it is politics and society, blink again and we see it as ethnography. External factors (for instance, a once-pervasive British Council) have caused it to change direction in order to obtain funding (for instance, with film studies), only for support to be fickly withdrawn, while at other moments the very word Culture has been used as a slogan the bandying about of which ends up in making it trendily meaningless or meaninglessly trendy. Moreover, extend the use of the word so that it becomes hyphenated to another, creating a new term, and even search engines have problems in coming up with hits. A hunt for the term, “sociocultural history” does not readily yield results that entirely fit the description. First comes sociocultural evolution, then sociocultural theory, and only on the second “page” in the form of an Amazon advert for a book (Dictatorship as Experience: a sociocultural history of the GDR1) and a few entries later an online article (“A sociocultural history of outdoor education”2), where it is linked with psycho-evolutionary theory. In this way a university MA course I teach is being advertised without a ready definition of what it actually refers to—as good a reason as any to hold such a course, in my eyes.
This paper, a kind of case study, describes some of the twists and turns of
“culture studies” in the forty-year history of the Pécs English “Department” and its predecessor, that of Pécs’s College of Education, and through pinpointing some of the stranger moments hopes to suggest a route (or three) for the future. It is necessarily sketchy and anecdotal, as exhaustive research, which would doubtless reveal much extra data, would require a great deal more space than is available in a selective volume of the present kind, and also because the main aim of the paper from which it originates, rather than being a long-term ongoing research, was to voice and share some long-term questions and doubts.
The English Departments at the colleges of education in Pécs and Eger were founded in 1970. That of Pécs, partly for historical reasons, was merged with the existing university of law and economics to create the Faculty of Education of Janus Pannonius University, later the Faculty of Humanities, Pécs University. As I write, the entrance to the faculty is still swathed in a combination of round years, including the 30th anniversary of the former. The early team of the college taught in an age when practically every course had to be forged and textbooks and readers for them written and compiled (Nagy). Among these was Klára Mátyás’s szöveggyűjtemény, British and American Civilization, as well as a volume for correspondence students, Civilizáció és világkép (Civilization and World View). Originally issued during the college years, British and American Civilization, inevitably published in Budapest by the monopoly educational publishing house Tankönyvkiadó, went through a number of editions, showing its general practical use with students, but also that “Civilization”
long continued to be taught as a single subject with no subdivisions. The 1991 edition
was the eighth. In a telephone conversation at the beginning of June 2013, Klára Mátyás described how, when she started writing these course-books for college students in the 1970s, there was no predecessor upon whom she could construct either the courses or the accompanying literature, and that she was given a great deal of freedom in their construction by the then head of department, Dr. József Bognár.
Aside from Mátyás, seminars of a cultural nature were taught by Dr. Miklós Trócsányi. One of the 1985 entries in the grade book of college student Csilla Szabó is for a course called “Anglia földje és népe” taught by Dr. Trócsányi. Interviewed on June 2, 2013, another student from the same year, Éva Marton, remembered back vividly to the way that he included all kinds of cultural aspects in his literature courses as well. Mátyás confessed that it was Trócsányi who encouraged her to write
“Civilizáció és világkép” for correspondence students.
In 1979, a young, slim, photogenic, bearded Englishman arrived on a one-year contract to teach at the colleges of education in Pécs and Eger, Hungary. It has been a long contract. The former establishment, the college in Pécs, was a nameless institute, but the one in Eger was named after the Vietnamese communist prime minister (1945–1955) and president (1945–1969) Ho Chi Minh. It is now named after an eighteenth-century bishop of Eger. That’s not all that has changed. In what follows I will provide a brief, anecdotal history of my accidental cultural career, or, if you prefer, career into culture, first at the Faculty of Education of Janus Pannonius University Pécs, and finally the Faculty of Humanities of Pécs University. This all began some time in 1990–1991, with the unexpected departure of Klára Mátyás from the department. My sole qualification was my travel document: summoned into the then head of department’s office, I was greeted with the rhetorical question (and answer), “Andy, you’ve got a British passport, haven’t you? Right, then from next week you’re teaching British Civilization.”
In the earliest days the students were just as aware as I that we were all groping in the dark. My predecessor had compiled the above-mentioned reader for a much earlier course, published in the hairy brown paper that was the hallmark of the ministry of education’s monopolistic educational publisher, but although it was still being republished in 1993 it was no longer very relevant to the new needs of students (and staff). I proceeded to chisel out a course of my own. At the end of the course I got an ovation: not, I am sure, because my lectures were particularly great, but because the students were exceedingly sympathetic to my plight. (They don’t clap now that I am an old hand at the game.)
Gradually, as I got the hang of what British Civilization constituted, I put together my own course, as one did in the days when textbooks, and certainly a choice of textbooks were unavailable—a ninety-minute lecture with a ninety-minute back-up seminar, the latter held by a variety of permanent and temporary colleagues, whoever happened to be available—and found that it was impossible to do justice to both the whole of British history and contemporary issues as well. In fact, it was impossible to
do justice even to just one of these issues in the time available; the overview nature of the course demonstrates how culture remained subservient to the two traditional disciplines. Moreover, in those days one was not entirely one’s master—for different reasons, one still is not—for the British Council began to interpose, using the carrot and the stick tactic. The carrot was the financing of the purchase of books following staff “book bids”—while the stick comprised alternating hints that there was either too little or too much twentieth- or earlier-century cultural material, and that it would be a good idea to have more (or in other years less) history. Additionally, the year- long course was first contracted into a single semester, single forty-five minute lectures being extended to 90 minutes, suggesting that breadth of subject-matter should be sacrificed to depth. Later an extra lecture course was added; these two have survived after going through several changes, and at present appear on the syllabus as
“British History” and, less correctly as regards geography, “Contemporary English Society and Culture”.3 The introduction of this latter course was both to reintroduce a course with a largely post-war profile and to make a clear distinction between a history course and one that was largely sociological and “cultural” in nature.
The 1990s, largely because of the explosion of demand for English teachers in the wake of the political changes at the beginning of the decade, was a brief period when our department actually boasted more native speakers than Hungarians, what with the rotating Fulbright professors, the Peace Corps rep, the British Council teacher, wandering Brits and Yanks who slid in and out of the department with surprising ease, and myself and an American counterpart, Steve Starkey, who like myself decided to marry a Hungarian and stay. The foreign contingent was a varied assortment: the (now long-gone) back-up seminar to my British History lecture—such was it now named—was held by a young American with Polish roots who had mistakenly thought that the south of Hungary was close enough for him to find them.
He was a nice young man, a vegetarian who, I was later told, got a job when he returned to the States in a butcher’s shop. Another young American stayed, left, returned, married, stayed, left; a New Yorker with Hungarian parentage told of how he had suffered as the only Protestant boy scout among Catholics in New York’s Hungarian scout troop. The Peace Corps added further colour, although it was Barbara Gonzales’s husband, not herself, who was Mexican. A Welsh lecturer came to us from Poland, complete with her globe-trotting tortoise, only leaving with the same reptile bound for Italy and an EU master’s degree scholarship before Hungary joined the Union. Of the Fulbright professors, we never knew what the profile would be: there was the black poet who, horrified by the idea of oral examinations in the Christmas holidays, hunted out a costume hire company and rented a Santa outfit so that the students would be more at their ease. Unused to such pranks by academia, they were petrified to find a black Santa examining them. Another was more
3 Numerous attempts on the part of the author to correct the name of the course, not created by him, from “English” to “British” have been thwarted by (amazingly) academic officialdom, which appears to insist on Hungarian shorthand for “British” (angol) being inaccurately retranslated into the English language, even though Mátyás’s earlier publication uses the word correctly (as do many others the world over).
interested in Pécs’s urban garden allotments than any Anglophile studies. A third was a compulsive potter. This international character coloured the activities of the department—for a start, department meetings were held in English, and guest lecturers both expected, and were expected, to attend them. At the other end of the spectrum, a visiting British Council ELT specialist masterminded a staff treasure-hunt around the county, bringing culture to free-time activities—the annual treasure-hunt had been a regular feature of the West Dorset school my father taught at in the 1960s, the headmaster famously rushing to his own back garden to grasp the “longest stinging-nettle”. For a brief while the department in Pécs was as madcap as is, it seems, middle-class, intellectual Anglo-Saxon society. This disappeared along with the nucleus of madcap Anglo-Saxon staff.
English was the lingua franca not only in the seminar room and lecture hall, but in the corridor, the student canteen and the nearby watering holes. This again led to decision-making processes that differed considerably from a purely Hungarian approach to academic, administrative and even pastoral work. For instance, it was at this time that the Welsh colleague got together with a Hungarian colleague to write a thesis-writing guideline pamphlet (Nikolov and Turner), one that stressed, alongside the “how to write...” details, a section on the evils of plagiarism. It is from this period, when there was a general outcry from the native speakers on both sides of the Atlantic regarding academic theft, that the department virtually pioneered a faculty-level intolerance towards this unsavoury activity. The early institutionalisation of such intolerance was in itself part of culture education, I felt—and still feel.
With political changes came many others, most drastically the new responsibilities of an English Department that was to suddenly supersede the former giant foreign language unit, the Russian Department. At one point there was a first year intake in excess of the largest lecture hall the faculty possessed (150 seats4), which meant that the history lecture (and many others) was suddenly advertised each and every semester. The explosion in numbers also resulted in a gradual move from the more personal, interactive seminar system to that of the lecture hall. This move was one of expediency, not of progress. In hindsight it was a great error on the part of the department—now an institute of three separate departments: of Linguistics, of Applied Linguistics, and the Department of English Literatures and Cultures—not to return to the seminar system when numbers began to recede, partly because new higher education establishments were springing up, partly because of the drop in the demographic curve, partly because of the move from a five-year degree to the internationally preferred 3 + 2 BA/MA system, and partly because the world was opening up and students saw a greater variety of subjects available within the country as well as the possibility to study outside it. Much data would have to be collected to substantiate any claims, but the reduction in grants and the percentage rise in fee- paying student numbers may also have turned prospective students away from the idea of entering an establishment of higher education at all.
4 A small example of cultural change in Hungarian higher education is seen in the renaming of C/V/II to “Alexandra Hall” after a locally born successful publishing and distributing magnate financed its refurbishment.
Within the Department and then Institute there had been an increasing number of elective courses, as more and more staff became interested in specialist, less- mainstream areas: indeed, senior staff were expected to perennially advertise new elective courses. Moreover, completely new study areas were entering the curriculum, which in its entirety contained the same number of contact hours as earlier, if not indeed fewer. The difference between contact hours in Hungarian and English higher education is well-exposed through an anecdote rooted in the more than two-decade- long exchange visit between St. Luke’s College (later School) of Education, Exeter, and the establishments at Eger and Pécs. Apparently, in the course of a conversation between the students of the institutions where contact hours were compared, when the horrified British students heard of the considerably larger number of Hungarian contact hours, they enquired incredulously, “But then when do you study?” As a result of the timetable changes, some courses, among them the British history lecture, lost their seminar character entirely, while others (for instance, the Educational Drama series that had at its height stretched over four semesters) disappeared entirely, although a truncated version of the latter course has been reintroduced for the new five-year teacher training degree course. One of these new areas of study, long overdue and much welcomed by some, was that of film studies; however, the way in which it finally entered the English Institute merits attention, for it was the result of some aggressive, almost militant work on the part of the British Council. The institute had become used to receiving a British Council staff member and for the main part was grateful for it, though some strange creatures did occasionally turn up. This time the Council sent John Cunningham, a film specialist. Moreover, the Council financed a large-scale film studies conference. John himself accepted a student to write a thesis under his consultancy . . . and then left as his contract expired, leaving the young man high and dry with not a specialist in the country to evaluate his work. John Cunningham, although having left the department, undertook to read the young man’s work and informally grade it, but despite his giving it a reasonable grade (“Jó” (4) =
“good” on a 1–5 scale), the new reader of the thesis failed it and occasioned some agony for the author before it was eventually accepted. I mention the episode because it illustrates the pitfalls of reliance upon temporary external assistance. Film studies have been taught on a regular basis, as part of the curriculum and with a fulltime member of staff (B. László Sári) since the academic year 1998–99, aided by the fact that during the “Cunningham years” a small video library had been amassed, mostly financed, like books, by the British Council. Videos had been provided even earlier, in the late 1980s, by the local representative of the United States Information Agency (1953–1999), who then discovered that the cheap provision of American videotapes was one thing—unfortunately they were not compatible with European machines, and so the USIS (Service) had to provide a multisystem video-player as well. The machine still stands inside a seminar room cupboard that has not been opened for a very long time.
I must say a few words about “culture” courses in general. The name of the department in which I work—the Department of English Literatures and Cultures—is of my own invention, ratified in a department meeting, probably in 1998, when the
single old department of English was divided into three separate entities, the other two being a Department of Linguistics and another of Applied Linguistics. (I can find no record of the meeting, but the division took place in 1998.) It was the result of a determination that the word should appear at least in the name of the department, and with the increase of culture-related courses it has proven, I believe, as good a solution as any other save the cleaving of the department into a separate Department of Literature and Department of Culture, which would be revolutionary though, I believe, timely. The word “English” is unsatisfactory, in the same way that the words
“Arab” or “Jewish” are, but the pluralisation of both the literatures and cultures hopefully at least partially clarifies that here we are speaking of the language and the geographical areas in which it is spoken. (Interestingly, I have recently heard of a
“British” department that includes a core course in a Gaelic language.)
Gradually, after decades if not centuries in the shadows, courses bearing a cultural character are acquiring a more satisfactory status. From a single “English Civilization” course (and perhaps an independent American one) they have grown in number and kind, showing a multiplicity of approaches to English Studies. History and film I have already mentioned, but there are many others. Among the ones that I teach or have taught myself (obviously but a selection of those available to students from the full complement of staff) are, in addition to my BA history course, Popular Culture (BA), Contemporary Society and Culture (BA), Contemporary Issues of the English-Speaking World (MA), Sociocultural History (MA), an MA course in Oral, Orally Delivered and Popular Literature which approaches the genres mainly as primary sources for social history and culture, and among the older electives Medieval Life, Lyrics and Literature, A Taste of Wales, The Culture Debate, Listening Through Britain and The (extremely well-attended) Language of Sex . . . The list is much longer.
The influence of culture upon English foreign-language departments is unarguable. This is shown in a yet newer trend in the naming of new courses. Our department now offers courses with hybrid names, notably “A Survey of English Literature and Culture”, a two-part lecture course mainly held by literature scholars.
The title, as well as the complement of staff involved, pose a question any serious attempt to answer which should create a deep sea change in how we see the task of an English—or for that matter any foreign language major—department. For it either presumes that literature is something other than culture, or openly admits to paying lip-service to the “culture” word in order to be educationally correct. In other words, it does a very bad job at trying to conceal the fact that this is not a course dealing with two equal, similar if different areas of study, but the deliberate renaming, and, to be fair, partial reshaping of a course in order to kowtow to current trends. Culture is, I believe, far more important an item than something merely trendy, but we must admit that at present trendiness is one of its faculties, because not to do so would be to fall off our guard when it ceases to be so, and when we must continue to build it as the most normal matter of course in foreign-language teaching.
Culture is far closer to other disciplines that hitherto have not had much to do with departments that teach foreign languages as a major subject. These include, as
well as the various branches of cultural studies itself, history, social sciences, ethnography, film criticism, politics. . . depending upon the human resources available, the visual and musical arts, at least from the theoretical angle. It would be foolish to deceive ourselves into ignoring the perceived threat seen by traditional teachers of any foreign language. At a previous HUSSE conference there was a failed attempt by staff with history qualifications to bring together a special interest group within the society. It is ironic that students do not read the works of Winston Churchill where centuries ago they would have had to read Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul. (And then memorise it. In Latin.)
Before we should think that the culture revolution is something that is exclusively relevant in English foreign language departments, let us take a look at replies given by the heads of the Pécs University department of French (Krisztián Bene = KB)5 and Institute of German (Zoltán Szendi = ZS)6 to four simple questions sent by email, each beginning “Over the past 20 years . . .”.7 The decision to give 20 years as a marker is based upon the age of both the department and the institute, as well as setting them within a time frame post-dating the beginning of the political changes and the period of mandatory dominance of the Russian department. Other departments in the university were not sought out, as they have very small staff (two or three) whose tasks are evidently very different from the larger English and German institutes and the French department. Asked whether within this time frame the number of courses that might be described as “cultural” in type had risen, KB replied,
“In the first half of the twenty years there was no essential change, apart from the literary and linguistic dominance there were only a handful of general introductory lessons that represented “culture”. In the past 10 years this has changed in that a historian has joined the literature and linguistics staff (that’s me), and so a greater number of civilization and other disseminating lessons have appeared that can be listed under “culture”. Like the English institute, “various native-speaking staff advertised courses related to music and film, thereby demonstrating an upward arc in the period from this point of view”. In the German institute (the two decades are not divided up here) “new course-types were advertised, in mass culture, visual culture etc.” and an estimated 50%+ of courses started to include modern, or rather postmodern trends. The examples given by ZS are gender, interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, cultural transfer and so on.
Asked whether there had been an increase in external pressure to increase the number of “culture” courses, both KB and ZS were of the opinion that pressure had been indirect, through participation in international conferences or attendance at book launches and film screenings. KB went further, to say that while the French department’s relationship with Alliance Française was close and cordial, the Alliance had never shown any interest in influencing courses. As to whether cultural studies specialists had been appointed on the staff in the period in question (this evidently
5 Email, 2 June, 2013
6 Email, 3 June, 2013
7 The questions were given and answered in Hungarian, all English text here is my translation/summary.
would not refer to the present economic environment, when departments are losing rather than gaining staff), ZS saw a gradation over the period from such courses being held by visiting staff to the institute’s own staff having “learnt their way” into the various professional areas of cultural studies. Though he does not specifically state this, it is implied that permanence has been achieved in the study areas through ensuring that locally employed, full-time staff are able to teach such subject areas. KB sees himself as more of a loner, and that his initial period of higher education as a history major plays an important role in the existence of “culture” courses in the French department.
When asked whether the number of submitted theses addressing cultural topics had increased, ZS wrote, briefly but tellingly, “yes, significantly”. KB’s answer was more informative and raises questions as to how far we can take the “culture”
umbrella term. What he sees is that in “the past 5–6 years the proportion of non- literary and non-linguistic themes has risen, but the rise has not always been the result of work addressing culture, as there are among them some addressing economic terminology and topics related to the European Union. Even so, there is a rise in this area”. He adds that as a French department the curriculum deals not only with France, but other territories such as “Wallonia, the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, Quebec, Maghreb and Black Africa”, meaning (though he did not explicitly state so) that the teaching of the Francophone areas implied one understanding of cultural studies.
The observations of the two senior staff, for which I am most grateful, show a tendency toward cultural (and other) subject areas that in itself demonstrates acceptance at the institutional level of a greater variety of disciplines and subject- matter appearing in courses and theses than was the case even two decades ago, and that staff, especially in the German institute, have had to re-educate themselves in order to deal with them.
There is much more work to be done in creating a unified cultural element tailor-made to foreign language studies. My own inclination is that one way in which this could be done would be to create independent research and teaching staff teams, in the institute scenario even a department of history and culture, rather than the present cross-sectioning of “American Studies”, “British Studies”, “Irish Studies” or even “Post-Colonial Studies”. While I recognise the geographical construct, it does in itself create problems—at the facile end, what to do about the travellers in the Mayflower or the First Fleet—when do they cease to be British and become American or Australian? And who gets Sylvia Plath? From the aspect of producing a team of staff using much the same research tools, there is a strong and logical argument for keeping together those members of staff who deal with history and culture irrespective of past and present and geographical location—after all, this is the same logic that has created separate teaching and research areas and individuals for literature and linguistics. One of the most interesting and relevant talks I have recently attended was by our Spring 2013 Fulbright Professor, Gabriel Loiacono, a historian, whose research on the American poor depended greatly upon the Elizabethan English poor laws.
History and culture courses at present are emerging from a longish though comparatively recent history where they existed in the form that in other areas of life would be named a “service industry”, backing up other areas of study. The history course is placed at the beginning of the students’ studies, at least at my university, because it creates a backdrop for the other stuff. The sequence of ethnic groups arriving and settling in the British Isles is also the story of the composition of the English language; the Wars of the Roses are the inspiration for Shakespeare’s history plays; without a German-speaking king at the beginning of the eighteenth century the institution of prime minister may not have been created; no comedy of manners without a culture of manners in which it can be spawned. And is a novel or a film or even a comic monologue or an evangelical sermon or a National Geographic article more likely to create a rounded picture of the culture that, one way or another, the graduate armed with his diploma is in turn to represent one way or another in later working life?
On a previous occasion when I raised the same points as I have today (the international conference 35Y eso, commemorating thirty-five years of English studies at Josip Juraj Strossmayer University Osijek, held on October 15-16, 2012), an objection was raised during the post-paper question time that in the event of “Culture”
indeed attaining an independent status similar to that long enjoyed by linguistics and literature (whether formally as departments or educationally as separate disciplines), culture would then no longer be taught, but instead, culture theory. It appeared a rather strange comment to make, as not all linguistics or literature courses are linguistic theory or literature theory, excepting that, naturally, all courses have an element of theory to them: even if the students are not aware of this, it is to be presumed that the course director is! My own courses, apart from the straight history course, include a popular culture (not “pop culture”) survey stretching from the medieval period to the twentieth century. It has an impressive and legitimatising literature—the students would probably say too impressive—but also much popular street literature and many sound recordings. My colleague’s course tracing the development of British film is not a film theory course. A multi-lecturer survey course of literature and culture from the medieval period to the eighteenth century, which includes a separate lecture on the evolution of printing and examples throughout of visual, musical and other culture/art forms, does not attempt to theorize all of these, although—to give but one example—cultural reasons are offered for the sudden popularity of the miniature in the sixteenth century, and it would be difficult to separate the importance of the world’s first Valentine letter (1477, Margery Brews to John Paston) in terms of literature or of culture. (Even within cultural confines it is a very complex item as regards gender studies, for here we have a girl begging her man to marry her even if her father won’t pay the full dowry, yet a piece of writing from a female that displays a delightful ability from the provincial, commoner female hand in an age generally associated with partial, and mainly male literacy if at all.)
Culture is, indeed, a far more complex term even than linguistics, which itself is possibly more extensive in its variety than literature (by definition, the former examines, among other matters, the latter, while the converse is not true). A cursory
glance at the titles of articles in any edition of the Journal of Popular Culture is sufficient proof that “cultural studies” defies and transgresses borders, and the umbrella term covers a multitude more related and sub-disciplines. It therefore seems professionally desirable that, just as linguists and literary scholars depart from a point of common understanding whatever the actual topic may be, so will those whose business is cultural studies.
The grouping of scholars into geographically exclusive areas is more questionable—though I have certainly enjoyed celebrating Australia Day, St.
Patrick’s Day and the Queen’s birthday, all of which I have received invitations to at various times for some service or other to the culture of one or the other. However, stand-up mignons and sausage rolls is hardly a basis for the grouping of academic activity.
A comment upon university numbers: a place in a university humanities faculty has never guaranteed a job (or even a training) as directly associated with a job. For prospective employers, a university degree has more than often shown no more (or less) than an ability to study independently to a certain level with an amount of self-discipline. It is therefore, at least to some point, irrelevant to speak of the usefulness of certain subjects, and student numbers should not be manipulated to reflect immediate or projected requirements in workplaces. Internationally, approaches to university education and the young population’s right to it vary, but in a period of recession and dearth, when places are necessary to keep universities buoyant for the future, it would seem the most logical to operate a much freer entry system, so that high levels of first- and second-year students finance small groups of upper-year students. Were that to be introduced in Hungary, a new social paradigm would have to be educated into the population at large: everyone has a right to enter university, but no-one has the right to stay there. While this closing comment may appear tangential to the main body of the paper, it is important when calculating the feasibility of new administrative/academic units, such as a further division of what not so long ago used to be a single department into a variety of departments, each pursuing its particular area of education and research.
Otherwise, from the managerial aspect, it is worth pondering on the relative size and breakdown of the workforces of a university department and a medium-sized private company.
Mátyás, Klára. British and American Civilization. Budapest: Tankönyvkiadó, 1991.
Mátyás, Klára. Civilizáció és világkép. Pécs: Pécs Tanárképző Főiskola, 1978. Print.
Nagy, Zsuzsanna. Emberi Erőforrás Feljesztés a JPTE Angol Tanszéke Történetének Tükrében (1970–1977) Pécs, 1997. University thesis.
Nikolov, Marianne and Turner, Sarah. Guidelines for Writing Theses in the English Department of JPU. Pécs, UP Pécs, 1998. Print.
University of Pécs
Hunting, Investigating and Excavating the Past:
Effects of the word/image apparatus and photography
It is one of the tasks of literature to uncover and recover if not objects of the past, at least some moments of the past, “moments of being” in Woolf’s parlance, and to bring them to light and life and sensation again. Was not Proust trying to do so in his Recherche du temps perdu, his Remembrance of Things Past? This might find an equivalent in painting and engraving in the “Poétique des ruines” (with Hubert Robert or Piranese) and also with the deciphering of traces, prints, palimpsests and hidden secrets. Image combines with text in this process of “uncovering and recovering the past” thanks to its particular word/image “dispositif”, a term we could borrow from Agamben who recently wrote about it (after L. Marin, Lacan, and Foucault), and which we could translate as “apparatus”. Writing about Foucault, Agamben notes:
Il est clair que le terme, dans l’usage commun comme dans celui qu’en propose Foucault, semble renvoyer à un ensemble de pratiques et de mécanismes (tout uniment discursifs et non discursifs, juridiques, techniques et militaires) qui ont pour objectif de faire face à une urgence pour obtenir un effet plus ou moins immédiat. (Agamben 20) It is clear that the term, both in common usage and in the one Foucault proposes, seems to refer to a set of practises and mechanisms (all at once discursive and non-discursive, judiciary, technical and military) which aim at confronting an emergency to obtain a more or less immediate effect.
He gives a wider definition a few pages further down: “J’appelle dispositif tout ce qui a, d’une manière ou d’une autre, la capacité de capturer, d’orienter, de déterminer, d’intercepter, de modeler, de contrôler et d’assurer les gestes, les conduites, les opinions et les discours des êtres vivants.” (Agamben 31) An apparatus then is a way of constraining people, of exerting power over them. It is also a network: “le réseau qui existe entre ces relations” as Foucault, quoted by Agamben, put it (Agamben 18).
One remark: in the instance of the word/image apparatus the issue of anachronism is raised: the image is perforce dialectic for it brings together two times:
past and present. It sizzles in-between the two; there is a kind of friction, of vibration, due to their heterogeneity, their hybridity. A fruitful tension thus animates a word/image apparatus.
Word/image studies owe much to excavation. First and foremost that of the Laocoön Group which was unearthed in 1506 near the site of the Domus Aurea of the Emperor Nero, close to the vats of Trajan’s therms and so often represented by poetry, painting and engraving. William Blake surrounded it with graffitti-like words and formulas.1 We know the use Winckelman and then Lessing made of the statue, the neat separation the latter tried to draw between the arts of time and the arts of space, and the way this has stood at the core of controversies which anyway helped to clarify the debate about visual and literary arts and the word/image relation. Still, a link exists between digging, indulging in archeology, and word/image strategies as far as making sense of chaos is concerned. Image comes to the help of language to bring to view possible hidden meanings in the kind of literature which makes use of it. Let the role of museums also be recalled concerning literature and ekphrasis for, by giving direct access to works which formerly were kept in private collections, museums of art and art galleries gave rise to a great number of writings about them: poems (Browning, Keats, Auden, William Carlos Williams, Durcan), writings on art or for art or about art (Pater, Ruskin, Wilde, Diderot, Gautier, the Goncourts, Huysmans), and novels (Proust, G. Eliot, H. James, V. Woolf, Chevalier, Byatt, Banville . . .).
Three disciplinary fields which emerged practically at the same time, that is at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, i.e. psychoanalysis, art history and detective fiction drawing from the science of police detection (details, proofs, taxonomy, physiognomony and phrenology), also coincide with the building of the great London museums such as the Natural History Museum and the V&A in Kensington. A period and a museum which stand at the centre of A.S. Byatt’s encyclopedic The Children’s Book. Morelli’s, Freud’s and Doyle’s works are all intimately linked to these disciplines, which cohere with the notions of searching for significant details (semiotics) while investigating, digging, hunting. Literature, of course, found inspiration in the methods of these quests and made use of them. Carlo Ginzburg, in a famous study, analyzed the roots of what he called “an indicial paradigm”, that of traces, and he reminds his reader that human beings were first hunters, busy deciphering traces and reconstructing the shapes and movements of invisible preys thanks to prints in mud, dejecta, broken branches, feathers, hairs and smells (see Ginzburg, in particular the chapter on “Traces”). Humans learnt to make sense of, classify and record these, for their survival. Three main activities are thus linked to uncovering/recovering the past: hunting, investigating, excavating. As a consequence, recording, building up archives, and preserving objects from the past in museums are
1 The most unusual intervention in the debate is William Blake's annotated print “Laocoön”, which surrounds the image with graffiti-like commentary in several languages, written in multiple directions.
Blake presents the sculpture as a mediocre copy of a lost Israelite original, describing it as “Jehovah &
his two Sons Satan & Adam as they were copied from the Cherubim Of Solomons Temple by three Rhodians & applied to Natural Fact or History of Ilium”.  This reflects Blake's theory that the imitation of ancient Greek and Roman art was destructive to the creative imagination, and that Classical sculpture represented a banal naturalism in contrast to Judeo-Christian spiritual art.”
“Laocoon”, Wikipedia, accessed 30 April 2012.
reflected in the museum-as-book (Preston and Child’s Cabinet of Curiosities) and the book-as-museum (Byatt’s).2
The question we may ask then is: how can literature represent this process, how can it stage and use this excavating process when it resorts to image and blends it into a word/image apparatus? This is when the critic turns archeologist too.
Hunting, investigating and excavating or digging will help me organize this talk. The three activities of course need not be separate. They are often intertwined, although one of them is often given pride of place. Photography is one of the media best suited to this quest for the past as we shall see. It is given pride of place in this questioning and recovering operation: instantaneous, it has a direct link with the “I have been here” or Barthes’s “it has been”. It is the privileged moment of what I call
“monumental ekphrasis”, a kind of ekphrasis which aims at erecting a monument, at commemorationg a memory of what has disappeared but remains as a trace. Often that of a deeply ingrained trauma. Photography is also closely related to elegy as S.
Cheeke states, who evokes Susan Sontag’s “twilight art”, and recalls “the elegiac nature of photographic art” for “the photographic image has something to do with Death” (Cheeke). As Sontag put it: “first of all a photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint or a deathmask” (Sontag 154). She humorously goes as far as stating “Having a photograph of Shakespeare would be like having a nail from the True Cross”. Which nicely ties in with Ginzburg’s theory about traces and our excavating theme. This is also what Huxley in a cycle of conferences (1880) about Darwin defined as “Zadig’s method”, as Ginzburg notes (276). Huxley thus gathered under this name the device common to history, archeology, geology, physical astronomy and paleontology: that is “the capacity to make retrospective prophecies” (Ginzburg 276). An interesting twist in time or time warp that literature will also make use of. Let me just add that Cuvier himself quoted Zadig while defining his own method of work based on animal prints and the study of jaw shapes, verterbrae forms, etc.3
I will choose four examples of a word/image apparatus offering different degrees of visible image commitment. The first one is concerned with hunting and and image lurks in its background, the second makes great use of photographs by dint of ekphrasis, the third and fourth ones combine visible images with text. We shall then have good samples of the word/image apparatus working at excavating time.
This will help us draw a kind of gradient of their possible nature and uses.
The hunting paradigm: Morelli’s detail interpretation
The obvious way for literature is to stage the hunt for ancient testimonies of former civilizations or even of pre-civilization traces. In Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier tells the story of Mary Anning’s life. At the end of the 19th century, Mary
2 Hence also the link with the mausoleum, often a reproach made to museums (also seen as mortuaries).
Museums are also close to moment and monument.
3 Ginzburg (276) quotes Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossements fossiles, vol. 1 Paris, 1834. 185.