Cult of Heroes in Central Europe from the 1880s to World War II

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Friday, November 12, 2010 - 9:00am
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Friday, November 12, 2010 - 9:00am to Saturday, November 13, 2010 - 3:45pm

Organized by the Department of Gender Studies, the Department of History of Central European University, and Pasts Inc. Center for Historical Studies, the Centre of Interdisciplinary Research on Central Europe of Paris-Sorbonne University, the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Polish Culture of the University of Warsaw

Worshiping heroes contributed in reinforcing evolving national identities turned toward and borne by Central European peoples. These various heroic ideals were echoed by school programmes, scientific publications for the general public, history textbooks, media, as well as literary and artistic creations of the time. Thanks to recent developments in historiography, various aspects of the genesis and evolution of heroes have been appraised for the Romantic period, which was the great period for the paradigmatic elaboration of heroic figures in most of these countries. Our conference aims therefore at understanding how these heroic figures were re‐appropriated, reinterpreted, or opposed to by the emerging values of modern mass societies at the turn and first half of the century. Our hunch is that the First World War and its consequences of peace have induced many modifications in pre‐war practices and representations. The conference will explore how some social practices were developed on heroic patterns, in what ways heroic virtues were linked to the representations of manhood and feminity, and if and how the various “heroes”, such as soldiers and writers, were challenged. Through cross‐cultural and/or interdisciplinary papers addressing the Polish, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian cultures and societies, also including those of the so‐called “nationalities” and “minorities” such as Jewish, Roma, German, Serbian and so forth, the purpose of this conference is to point to some variations, dissimilarities and points of encounter between these diverse cultures.
The conference is being organised by the Department of History in association with Pasts Inc., Center for Historical Studies, and the Department of Gender Studies of Central European University (CEU), in cooperation with the Interdisciplinay Research Centre on Central Europe (CIRCE), a branch of the Research Centre on Central, Eastern and Balkanic cultures and literatures (CRECOB) of the Paris‐Sorbonne University, the Institute of Polish Culture of the Warsaw University, and the Institute of History from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV). It is also being supported by the Visegrad Fund ( ) and the French Institute of Budapest.

Coordination, conception and planning: Eszter Balázs, Andrea Pető and Clara Royer.


Friday, 12 November 2010


Katalin Farkas, Provost, Central European University.
François Laquičze, Director of the French Institute of Budapest.
A word by Eszter Balázs and Clara Royer.

09:30 – 11:00 – CANONIZING HEROES 1.

Chair: Andrea Pető, Associate professor at the Department of Gender Studies, CEU.
Adela Kobelska (Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw): Romantic Poet as a Hero in Modern Polish Literary Studies.
Peter Macho (History Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava): Matúš Čák/Csák Máté From Trenčin As a Slovak National Hero.
Eszter Balázs (János Kodolányi University College, Department of Media and Communication, Budapest): Dual, Manhood and Heroism: the Case of Hungarian Writers (1890‐1914).


 11:30 – 13: 00 – CANONIZING HEROES 2.

Chair: Contantin Iordachi, Head of the Department of History, CEU, and Co‐Director of Pasts, Inc. Center for Historical Studies.
Michel Masłowski (Paris‐Sorbonne University – CIRCE / CRECOB, Paris): Józef Piłsudski, a Hero of Poland.
Étienne Boisserie (INALCO – CREE, Paris): Celebrating the Liberators: the Creation of a Czech and Slovak Philatelic Pantheon 1918‐1945.
Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič (Department of History, CEU, Budapest & Centre of Advanced Studies – CAS, Sofia): Martyrs and Heroes among Slovenes and Italians in the Northern Adriatic Borderlands: Two National Projects between Mutual Opposition and Mimetic Competition.

 13:30 – BREAK


Chair: Catherine Horel, Research director at the CNRS (IRICE, Paris I University).
Tímea Jablonczay (King Sigismund University College, Department of Media and Communication, Budapest): Ilona Zrínyi, the ”Mother of the Nation”. A specific Conservative Female Identity Construction in the Hungarian Interwar Period.
Michal Kšiňan (History Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava & CEFRES, USR 3138 CNRS‐MAEE, Prague): Štefánik´s Death and (Czecho)Slovak Identity.
Gerben Zaagsma (Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London): Naftali Botwin – a Jewish Communist Hero in Interwar Poland.
Andrea Pető (Department of Gender Studies, CEU, Budapest): Unlikely Heroines of the Extreme Right Movements: Gender and Movement.

20:00 – DINNER for the conference participants


Saturday, 13 November 2010

 09:30 – 11:00 – SUBVERSIVE OR SUBVERTED? 1.

Chair: Gábor Klaniczay, Permanent Fellow of Collegium Budapest, Professor at the Department of Medieval Studies, CEU.
Petra James (Paris‐Sorbonne University – CIRCE / CRECOB, Paris): The Character of an Outsider: A Hero of the Turn of the 20th Century Czech Literature?
Weronika Parfianowicz (Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw): Heroes and Antiheroes of the Central‐European Modern Novel (Musil, Schulz, Kafka, Hašek).
Xavier Galmiche (Paris‐Sorbonne University – CIRCE / CRECOB, Paris): Martyrs or rebels? Homo‐Heroism / Homo‐Erotism in Central Europe. The Czech Case.

 11:00 – 11:30 – COFFEE BREAK

 11:30 – 12:45 – SUBVERSIVE OR SUBVERTED? 2.

Chair: Clara Royer, Associate professor at Paris‐Sorbonne University – CIRCE / CRECOB.
Joanna Tegnerowicz (Department of Urban and Rural Sociology, Institute of Sociology,
University of Wrocław): The Blood‐Soaked Spectre or the Avenger‐Hero: On Popular and Literary Images of Jakub Szela.
Mateusz Chmurski (Paris‐Sorbonne University – CIRCE, Paris & Department of Modern Literature, University of Warsaw): Antihero / Self‐Heroicization: Karol Irzykowski & Ladislav Klíma’s “Crusades Against the Principle of Identity”.

 12:30 – BREAK


Chair: Balázs Trencsényi, Assistant professor, Department of History, CEU.
Katarzyna Pabijanek (Warsaw School for Social Science and Humanities – SWPS, Warsaw): Making of a Hero. Problematic Heroism of Emilia Plater and Berek Joselewicz.
Balázs Sipos (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest): Heroes or Victims? New Woman and Modernity in Hungary in the Interwar Period.
Paweł Rodak (Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw): “What and How to Fight for?” Figures of Hero and the Problem of Heroic Attitudes of the Polish War Generation