The Narratology Research Group at the University of Pécs, Hungary

The Narratology Research Group (Narratológiai Kutatócsoport) at the University of Pécs is quite a unique place in this field in Hungary. Institutionally, since its establishment by Professor Beáta Thomka in 1996, the Research Group is part of the Doctoral School of Literature at the University of Pécs. The Group functions as a loose association of scholars and has opened up to young researchers interested in narrative studies. While Professor Thomka has an initiative role, she encourages narrative research among the colleagues in the fields of pictorial narrative, cultural anthropology, historiography, psychology, autobiography, reflexivity, theology, digital media and transmediality. In addition to workshops and seminars, the research group publishes the book series Narratives (Narratívák), each volume containing selected narratological articles centered around a particular approach. The translations published in the series include the writings of such scholars as Paul Ricœur, Mieke Bal, Jerome Bruner, Paul Veyne, Gottfried Boehm, Monika Fludernik, Dorrit Cohn, David Herman, Marie-Laure Ryan, Henry Jenkins, Espen Aarseth and Meir Sternberg. Without exaggeration, these books have had a great influence on Hungarian scholars, for they are widely used as textbooks in graduate and postgraduate courses.

It is worth noting that prior to the 1990s, narrative studies were not a preferred field of research for Hungarian scholars. From the early 1970s to the late 1990s, Beáta Thomka was among the few experts whose research was in line with the French and German research. Coming from the former Yugoslavia, she had to confront less ideological constraints than her contemporaries in Hungary, to where she migrated after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Her broad theoretical background and intercultural experiences went together with a sensibility to interdisciplinary methods. After discussing Slavic structuralism in the 1970s, she started to mediate French structuralism and narratology in Hungary from the 1980s, discussing and publishing several texts of Barthes, Kristeva, Todorov, Genette, Ricœur and others. Since the late 1990s, she has become interested in visual narrativity, narrative history, narrative psychology and cultural and contextual narratology.

The latest volumes of the Narratives book series study a number of current issues in contextual, transmedial and intermedial narratology as well as in narrative theology. Several members of the Research Group are members of the European Narratology Network.

 

Bibliography:

Thomka, Beáta (ed.). Narratívák 1. Képleírás, képi elbeszélés [Description of Pictures and Visual Narration]. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 1998.
Since the iconic turn, it is clear that visual narration is not simply a translation of a text. Boehm, Imdahl, or Kemp describe images in a way which raises the question of narrative time, space and causality in a transmedial and intermedial perspective. The phenomena of ekphrasis and description also address the relation between words and image, metonymy and metaphor.

Thomka, Beáta (ed.). Narratívák 2. Történet és fikció [Story and Fiction]. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 1998.
Fictionality is a theoretical meeting point for philosophy, hermeneutics, and narratology. Ricœur’s, Iser’s, and Anderegg’s insights on fiction raise the problems of truth and referentiality in narrative as a symbolic system (in Riffaterre’s and Elm’s articles). 

N. Kovács, Tímea (ed.). Narratívák 3. A kultúra narratívái [Narratives of Culture]. Series editor: Thomka, Beáta. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 1999.
The book aims to sketch the interaction of literary sciences, historiography, and cultural anthropology, collecting seminal articles by, inter alia, Paul Ricœur, David Carr, Mark Currie, Homi K. Bhabha, James Clifford and Edward M. Bruner.

Thomka, Beáta (ed.). Narratívák 4. A történelem poétikája [Poetics of History]. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 2000.
While traditional historiography tended to reconstruct reality through significant events, after the narrative turn the discipline became more reflexive, emphasizing the narrative character of history. This methodological reflection involves issues of referential truth, narrativity, figurativity, point of view, cultural and linguistic determination and fictionality.

Thomka, Beáta & László, János (eds.). Narratívák 5. Narratív pszichológia [Narrative Psychology]. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 2001.
Narrative sources of identity, individual life narratives as well as narrative social representations are focused on in this book. Ricœur’s article on narrative identity and Bruner’s on narrative mode are followed by (socio-)psychological case studies.

Bene, Adrián - Jablonczay, Tímea (eds.). Narratívák 6. Narratív beágyazás és reflexivitás [Narrative Embedding and Reflexivity]. Series editor: Thomka, Beáta. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 2007.
This volume of Narratives focuses on the embedded narrative, mise en abyme and metalepsis. The reflexivity these figures enable is one the main characteristics of modern and postmodern literature and arts. The book aims to take stock of the types and different functions of these phenomena.

Fenyvesi, Kristóf  & Kiss, Miklós (eds.). Narratívák 7. Elbeszélés, játék és szimuláció a digitális médiában [Story, Play, and Simulation in Digital Media]. Series editor: Thomka, Beáta. Kijárat Kiadó: Budapest, 2008.
There is a conceptual difference between traditional and new media: while the former is characterized by technological and formal standardization, the latter remains, for forty years, in an experimental and cumulative state. The anthology investigates with the rapidly changing facets of digital media, and it seeks to find new conceptual prototypes for its interpretation.

Kisantal, Tamás (ed.). Narratívák 8. Elbeszélés, kultúra, történelem [Narrative, Culture, History]. Kijárat Kiadó, Budapest, 2009. 314.
This volume studies the problem of the cultural turn in the humanities, especially in historiography. The essays in the book examine some issues of contextual narratology and the challenges raised by the narrative approach to historiography. These texts focus mainly the representational and epistemological problems of cultural history and the writing of history from cultural point of view.

Horváth, Imre & Thomka, Beáta. Narratívák 9. Narratív teológia [Narrative theology]. Kijárat Kiadó, Budapest, 2010. 306.
The contributions to and advances in this fundamental shift are the work of a limited number of scholars (Richard Bauckham, Hans Frei, Klaus Seybold, Meir Sternberg, Hermann Timm, Ruben Zimmermann, Harald Weinrich). However, the editors have rendered us a singular service by making these materials so conveniently available. The various sections of the book (Narrative Theology, Metaphor, Parable and Rhetorics) pick up on important themes in distinctive theological conceptions of the significance of narrative.

Kiss, Gábor Zoltán (ed.). Narratívák 10. A narrációtól az attrakcióig [From Narration to Attraction]. Series editor: Thomka, Beáta. Kijárat Kiadó, Budapest, 2011.
There is a useful formal distinction between early non-narrative films and later classical ones in the American cinema. The distinction is highly valuable for the reinterpration of film history, and we can make good use of it in our contemporary debates about the “post-filmic” state of the medium. The anthology aims to discuss the historical differences and possibilities of classical narrative cinema and its “lost” counterpart, the cinema of attractions.

Books by Beáta Thomka:

Narráció és reflexió [Narration and Reflection]. Újvidék: Forum, 1980. (Gemma Könyvek, 14). 182 pages.
A pillanat formái. A rövidtörténet szerkezete és műfaja [Forms of the Moment: Generic and Structural Issues of the Short Story] Újvidék: Fórum, 1986. 222 pages
Esszéterek, regényterek [Spaces: Essay and Novel]. Újvidék: Forum 1988. 197 pages.
Áttetsző könyvtár [The Transparent Library]. Pécs: Jelenkor Kiadó, 1993. 264 pages.
Beszél egy hang. Elbeszélők, poétikák [A Voice Is Speaking. Storytellers and Poetics]. Budapest: Kijárat Kiadó, 2001. 216 pages.
Glosszárium [Glossary]. Alföld Könyvek, Debrecen: Csokonai, 2003. 145 pages.
Prózai archívum. Szövegközi műveletek [Archive of Prose: Intertextual Operations] Kijárat Kiadó, Budapest, 2007. 168 pages.
Déli témák [Southern Topics]. Zetna, Zenta, 2009.
Prózaformák [Prose Forms]. Újvidéki Egyetem Bölcsészettudományi Kar – Vajdasági Magyar Felsőoktatási Kollégium, Újvidék, 2012.

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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.

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