From 1945 to 1980

Despite serious setbacks from a ruined infrastructure and the lack of qualified staff to teach the growing number of students of English after the war, teaching resumed in the 1945-1946 academic year, with Professor János Hankiss, head of the French Department, serving temporarily as acting chair until László Országh, who had taught at Budapest’s Eötvös College and Pázmány Péter University, was appointed Head of Department in the next academic year. Although Professor Országh had to start from scratch in Debrecen, he managed to lay the foundations of a new curricular policy and of a growing department.

All would have been well, had it not been for the Ministry’s infamous political decree of October 31, 1949, which suspended teacher training in the English, French, German, and Italian departments at the universities of Debrecen and Szeged. Seven years of forced interruption followed and not until the 1957-1958 academic year was the English Department allowed to reorganize. Professor Országh started rebuilding the Department for the second time.

By the beginning of the 1965/66 academic year there evolved, under the leadership of Professor László Országh, a second generation of Anglists at the University of Debrecen. This was a community of sholars in their thirties and forties headed by Associate Professor Péter Egri, who had earned a postdoctoral degree at the Hungarian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Anna Katona, who was within easy reach of obtaining both an academic doctorate and the position of Associate Professor, Assistant Professor Béla Korponay, with a doctor universitates degree,  István Pálffy and Charlotte Kretzoi  expected to receive their university doctorate soon and ready for professional rivalry including also the members of the young generation, such as József Csapó, Zoltán Nagy, and Zsolt Virágos. By the time Professor Országh left in 1968, “the grand old man of English and American Studies in Hungary” (as he was affectionately referred to after his retirement) had made the Department of English an internationally known academic division of the university.

Updated: 2021.01.25.

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