Péter Bokányi (PhD 2006) literary historian, managing editor of the journal Életünk and a researcher at iASK in Kőszeg. As an external lecturer he worked for 12 years at the Department of Literary History and Education at the Berzsenyi Dániel College (later: University of West-Hungary), Szombathely. In 2007, he has worked as an education manager in Slovenia (2007), and as a lecturer of the ISES Foundation at the Cultural Heritage Management Program (2009). For several years he was guest lecturer at the Summer University of the Collegium Fenno-Ungaricum Institute where he taught Hungarian literature in Russian. He participated in and coordinated several research projects on literary regionality. His latest volume (Itt álltál valaha, (You stood here once) 2015) is also connected to the literary heritage of Pannonia. He has published widely on contemporary literature, he serves as a board member of the Csokonai Literary and Art Society, as a member of the Hungarian Writers’ Associaton, the Protestant Journalists’ Society and of the Societas Scientiarium Savariensis. He is an author of six books, he published essays in nine volumes and nearly a hundred journal articles. Besides academic publications, he has worked on projects related to cultural tourism, produced films and written screenplays.
Is there a phenomenon we could call ‘literary regionality’? Put differently, is there an existing regional consciousness in literature? The term regionality comes to literature from linguistics and it serves to create an assumption of a common literary language, cemented in the concept of ‘national canon’ that is somehow above the regional. The assumption that a coherent, organic national canon, against which the literature of regions can be measured exists somewhere, is false. Hungarian literature – just like Central-East-European literatures in general – consist of regional works, which are representations of important historical, sociological phenomena and more importantly they are markers of identity. Literature is a fundamental element of regional identities, it represents regions irrespective of geopolitical borders. My research concentrates on the Western-Transdanubian and the Western-Pannonian regions, their literature and the regional, i.e. not only Hungarian, identity it constructs. I devote special attention to historical novels of this region. Mapping this carefully might give us a chance to rethink notions of “regionality” and “national” culture as well as canon formation in a broader sense.
Is there a national canon which stands above the regional canon? In other words, is the regional canon capable of rising above the arbitrary national canon and connect the regions which are divided by borders of countries, via the regional consciousness and identity that such works create and carry?