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Protesters line up on the streets of Budapest to protest Orban’s bill. (Credit: BBC)

A few weeks ago, news that the Central European University located in Budapest, Hungary had come under threat spread like wildfire around the BCB campus. Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, had launched a legislative attack on the institution, indirectly calling for it to close down. When pressured for a reason, Orban’s government claimed that the legal measures they had taken were only to protect the affairs of higher education in the country. However, the proposal underlined many prospects that seemed to single out CEU, including complex conditions it was required to meet to remain in existence. One such demand was that Hungary would have to sign an intergovernmental pact with the home country of the university, meaning that CEU’s associations with other universities would become highly politicised as Hungary would be obliged to have political ties with the countries that set up shop in their nation. Another demand was that foreign universities could only exist provided they had a campus in their home land, something that CEU doesn’t have as it is a cross-border institution. Orban’s government also seemed to be opposed to the issuance of double degrees (i.e., Hungarian and American) by the university, which many American universities operating outside the United States do, including Bard College Berlin!

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Budapest

View over the Danube river in Budapest (Credit: Tanya Sharma).

Sunday, 8:00 pm, On our Way to Budapest
The train is quiet save the steady rumble of any old-fashioned locomotive. The noise laps gently at my ears, rising and falling with the heave of pistons. Night has laid its thick blanket over the window, replacing cityscape and countryside with the eerily distorted reflection of compartment’s innards. Bursts of unsuccessfully stifled laughter from two compartments over, where the rest of the BCBers are seated, are met by our own smiles of sleepy excitement.
I look up from my scribbling to Alona (BA 2019). She is curled like a contented cat in the seat across my own. The words that have been running, screaming through both our minds for the past 4 hours or so have finally settled into a rumbling hum.
We exchange a grin. I see the same words that have been at the tips of our tongues for so many weeks now hanging on the edges of her smile: “We’re going to Budapest”, she says.

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Son of Saul

(Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

At the dinner for the Oscar nominees, Steven Spielberg first glances at László Nemes, then after a moment of contemplation slowly sits up and walks to the young director’s table. “I never thought we would have to wait this long for a film like this” After this first encounter something changes in recent Hungarian cinema and perhaps national self-image as well.

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Anges Heller

Anges Heller

A week’s worth of immersion in Renaissance art requires both time for contemplation and occasion for discourse. As such, the spring term’s core course on Values of Florentine Renaissance commenced with a guest lecture by the prominent Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller.

Professor Heller broached the topic of historical interpretation by briefly discussing Goethe and Hegel’s views about the Renaissance, particularly the view that the primary concern during the said period was beauty. Professor Heller carried the idea further by saying that the Renaissance’s preoccupation with beauty is one of many expressions of a greater development, which she called the dynamics of modernity.

These dynamics manifested themselves in the processes of questioning conventions, standards, and traditions, and of searching for answers, which eventually burgeoned into an all-encompassing social movement. In time, the individual stepped into the spotlight and developed into a creature of choices. The application of knowledge and improvements in technology only served to amplify these changes.

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