The Doctoral Program in Contemporary and Comparative History (The post-1914 period)
The program’s past
Until 2015, doctoral students working on twentieth-century history attained their degrees in the Doctoral School’s Modern History Program. At that point the program split in two. Ever since doctoral students carrying out research on the past century, as well as students using comparative methodology, have worked in a separate, specialized program. This change has enabled deeper, more significant research, and has made it possible to react more effectively to students’ individual needs.
The program today
Research on contemporary history – by which we mean the post-1914 period, in accordance with Central European historiographical traditions – is a unique, and fully institutionalized sphere of Hungarian and international history. Besides scholars, the public has also shown great interest in twentieth-century history, and this interest has only grown as time has passed. There are a variety of yet to be clarified, but heavily debated periods and problems related to twentieth-century history in Hungary – issues that are important for social cohesion, the development of national identity, or even the successful integration of Hungarian society into the broader European environment – which need more modern, professional attention.
Over the past three decades, research into the Twentieth Century has gone through great changes in Hungary, which have been favorable to its development. While there have been some negative phenomena – such as political attempts to intervene in scientific research – the overall direction of these changes has been positive: access to sources on modern history has been expanded, most research has become more professional, and historical narrative has adopted important international trends.
Writing on contemporary international history was for long dominated by political history, but this has become less and less the case. In accordance, contemporary history – though it does have its own methodology – is defined chronologically in this doctoral school rather than as a methodological or thematic direction. The program accepts doctoral students dealing with the period from the First World War to our days, or rather with individual periods within this longer time, and not merely in political history, but in social and economic history, as well as the history of ideas and other fields.
In addition to research on contemporary history, the program focuses on historical comparison, and accordingly we encourage doctoral students to use comparative methodologies. Comparison is an important tool of contemporary history writing: among its other advantages, it enables researchers to examine numerous issues in less ethnocentric ways. The use of comparisons strengthens theoretical underpinnings, and balances approaches that would otherwise be of an overly descriptive nature. Additionally, comparisons can play a great role in the correction of ideological descriptions, which are particularly faulty in contemporary history. Experience demonstrates that comparative research demands, and also evokes international collaboration, through which Hungarian historical narrative’s international embeddedness is increased, and this has a positive effect on its quality.
Accordingly the program encourages applications from doctoral students who – after discussion with their supervisor – wish to deal with twentieth-century Hungarian and world history from a variety of perspectives and methodologies, and furthermore will accept more experienced colleagues who want to improve their professional skills through individualized effort leading to a degree. The program attempts to offer students broad theoretical and methodological preparation, while offering space for individual research through a selection of courses. In addition to colleagues from Szeged, other Hungarian and international experts offer courses and supervision.
Courses offered in Contemporary History
Semesters 1–4 in the Doctoral School of Contemporary and Comparative History.
Dr. Nándor Bárdi
Dr. habil. Péter Bencsik
Dr. Stefano Bottoni
Dr. Melinda Kalmár
Prof. László Karsai DSc, professor emeritus
Dr. Linda Margittai
Dr. habil. Judit Molnár
Dr. habil. Judit Pihurik
Prof. Éva Standeisky DSc
Prof. Béla Tomka
Dr. habil. Péter László Vukman