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Great Expectations and Interwar Realities

Hungarian Cultural Diplomacy, 1918-1941

Zsolt Nagy

Zsolt Nagy is Assistant Professor at the department of History at University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

After the shock of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which Hungarians perceived as an unfair dictate, the leaders of the country found it imperative to change Hungary’s international image in a way that would help the revision of the post-World War I settlement. The monograph examines the development of interwar Hungarian cultural diplomacy in three areas: universities, the tourist industry, and the media—primarily motion pictures and radio production. It is a story of the Hungarian elites’ high hopes and deep-seated anxieties about the country’s place in a Europe newly reconstructed after World War I, and how these elites perceived and misperceived themselves, their surroundings, and their own ability to affect the country’s fate. The defeat in the Great War was crushing, but it was also stimulating, as Nagy documents in his examination of foreignlanguage journals, tourism, radio, and other tools of cultural diplomacy. The mobilization
of diverse cultural and intellectual resources, the author argues, helped establish Hungary’s legitimacy in the international arena, contributed to the modernization of the country, and established a set of enduring national images.
Though the study is rooted in Hungary, it explores the dynamic and contingent relationship between identity construction and transnational cultural and political currents in East-Central European nations in the interwar period.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS; ACKNOWLEDGMENTS; INTRODUCTION

1. MOBILIZING THE NATION: FROM WAR PROPAGANDA TO PEACETIME CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AND BEYOND
From the Emergence of Wartime Propaganda to the Changing; Nature of International Relations; Hungarian Dreamland and Its Destruction, 1918–1920; Hungary, 1920–1927: From Turmoil to Consolidation; 1927: Opening a New Phase; Stages of Traditional and Cultural Diplomacy, 1927–1941; Conclusion

2. DEFINING THE NATION
National Identity before the Nation-State?; Post-World War I Crisis of Culture; Hungarian Nemzetkarakterológia; Main Themes and Topoi; Conclusion

3. EDUCATING INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION: CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS AND SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS
Institutions; The Hungarian Reference Library; Academic Publishing and Lectures; Conclusion

4. SHOWCASING THE NATION: THE ROLE OF TOURISM
The Hungarian Tourist Industry and the Image of Hungary before Trianon; “A Country without Mountains or Sea”: The Reorganization of the Hungarian Tourist Industry after World War I; Tourism Propaganda and the Constant Problem of Image; Competing Mental and Physical Landscapes of Hungary’s Tourist Image; 1938: Hopes, Disappointments, and Change; Conclusion

5. BECOMING AUDIBLE AND VISIBLE: RADIO BROADCASTING AND CINEMATIC PRODUCTION IN THE SERVICE OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY
Radio Broadcasting: Providing Voice for a Nation; Radio: Cultural Diplomacy’s Sharpest Weapon; Domestic Challenges: The Hungarianness of Hungarian Radio; Challenges to the Radio’s Foreign Policy: From “the Battle of Radio Armaments” to War; The Birth, Destruction, and Rebirth of the Hungarian Movie Industry, 1896–1929; Celluloid Résumés: The Role of Kulturfilme and Newsreels; Conclusion

CONCLUSION; BIBLIOGRAPHY

354 pages incl. 8 pages color gallery
978-963-386-194-3 cloth
$65.00 / €58.00 / £50.00

 

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