Helena History Press Scholarship

Helena History Press has established an annual scholarship to be administered by the American Hungarian Educators Association ( AHEA).

Congratulations to the 2020 Recipient Teodóra DömötörKároli Gáspár University, Budapest.


Description

The Helena History Press scholarship is an annual award that has been established by Helena History Press to recognize a scholar in any field of the humanities who specializes in scholarship related to or about Central and East Europe.

Eligible candidates must be current members of AHEA.

The field of humanities includes ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, human geography, law, politics, religion, and art.

Amount Awarded

2,500 USD

Application Requirements

  1. Prepare a narrative essay of up to 500 words on your research in any of the above fields including how funds from the award will be used to further your research.
  2. Submit a current CV [include 2 references whom we might contact].
  3. Join or be a member of AHEA.

Expectation

The Awardee is expected to submit an abstract and present a paper on the topic of his/her research at a future AHEA conference.

How to Apply

Email Application Requirements (above) to info@ahea.net

Criteria

Based on holistic review by an interdisciplinary review committee.

Announcement of Award

The award recipient will be notified within a month after the deadline for submissions. Subsequently the recipients will be publicly announced on the AHEA website and in the AHEA newsletter.

Deadline for Submissions

February 15

Award Funding and Frequency

This scholarship is awarded annually by AHEA through a generous donation from Helena History Press LLC.

Tomáš G. Masaryk, a Scholar and a Statesman

The Philosophical Background of His Political Views

Zdenĕk V. David

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Tomáš G. Masaryk, a Scholar and a Statesman

ISBN: 978-1-943596-13-3
$50
360 pages, cloth

The importance of the political thought of Thomas G. Masaryk (1850−1937), the first president of Czechoslovakia, has been based on two considerations. One was his image as the principal shaper of the democratic culture in inter-war Czechoslovakia. The other image was as a model of political prudence and sagacity not only for East-Central Europe, but one recognized universally. He was called by his contemporaries “the wisest European of today” and “the greatest man in Europe.” John MacCormac, writing in the New York Times in 1930, saw in Masaryk a personage of the same caliber as Washington, Lincoln, and Wilson.

Masaryk brought to his political activity the assets of profound background in scholarship, as well as a religious flavor. A leitmotif of Masaryk’s intellectual search was his desire to establish a religious dimension to the human experience. Unable to accept his native Catholicism, whether traditional or liberal, he turned to the two modernizing trends in German Lutheranism that had jettisoned traditional dogma and liturgy.

Zdenĕk V. David’s main interest is to probe the mind of the man as revealed through his writings on philosophy and religion, and to map out his position in relation to the principal Austrian, British, French, and German – to some extent also American and Russian – thinkers with whom he dealt in his philosophical and religious writings. He focuses on the ideas behind Masaryk’s political pronouncements and activities.

Forbidden Federalism: Secret Diplomacy and the Struggle for a Danubian Confederation: 1918-1921

Zoltán Bécsi

Forbidden Federalism
Secret Diplomacy and the Struggle for a Danubian Confederation, 1918−1921 Zoltán Bécsi

ISBN 978-1-943586-11-9
310 pages, cloth
$50


The key concept of his title is that of federalism, understood as a unifying factor for the peoples of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the First World War, even those resolutely in favor of dismantling Austria-Hungary recognized that the Danubian area required some sort of federal unity, if only for economic reasons.

One of the main actors of the narrative is Karl of Habsburg-Lorraine, the last Emperor-King of Austria-Hungary. As soon as Austria-Hungary fell apart, Karl started actively to try to reconstruct his empire by writing a plan for a new con/federal monarchy and by contacting the pope and the leaders of the Entente regarding this plan.

Bécsi’s book is a study in virtual history, what might have been, and reading it one is tempted to follow this line of thought as well. The shadowy figures that cross its pages—the Marquis de Castellone who sought to win over the Foreign Office to Karl’s plans, the better-known Stepan Radić who played with federal schemes in an effort to advance the Croatian cause, or the obscure swindler Karol Bulissa—all failed in their attempts.

The present configuration in Central Europe, with the emergence of the Visegrad bloc and disintegration in the Balkans, seems to make Zoltán Bécsi’s work more relevant than ever.

Book Review: The Story of Sidonie C in Self & Society Autumn 2020

 Self & Society Vol. 48 No. 2 Autumn 2020, p.81

 Reviewed by Gillian Proctor 

 This edition is the first time this labour of love has been printed in the English language, having been originally printed in German in 2000. It is the biography of a woman, the named Sidonie, who lived from 1900 until 1999, and the book comprises 362 pages of a dense personal and moving history of the twentieth century, with the central focus in Vienna, Austria. 

The depth of detail in this book, and the meticulous research which must have gone into it, are staggering. The two authors, one of whom was the grand-daughter of Sidonie’s lifelong friend, met with Sidonie over a period of four years, recording her recollections, and returning after research with further questions. The accomplishment of this endeavour when Sidi was in her late 90s is remarkable. The two authors discuss their difficult decision about whether to use the pseudonym of ‘Sidi’ or her real name, Margarethe (known as Gretl) in the introduction. I found it frustrating that after this initial explanation of their roles, thereafter the authors disappear in the story, and this biography is presented as though an autobiography, with the authors’ contributions of interpretation, filling in missing detail or artistic licence completely unacknowledged. As a literary device, this works to the extent that the reader feels she is hearing Sidonie’s story directly, but I was left with a dissatisfaction that I was unsure whether Sidonie wanted to portray herself in such a superficial way, or whether this was more the authors’ perceptions. 

Sidonie had a truly incredible life, worthy of a biography. She had relationships with women in a time when it was illegal in Austria and certainly frowned upon, and yet managed to regain her position in bourgeois society, only partly by also getting married to a man. She was a traveller, and spent parts of her life in other parts of the world, first escaping the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1940. She stayed in Vienna as long as she could, trying not to identify as Jewish as she had been baptised Catholic. Her journey around the world culminating in Cuba, where she joined her two brothers, was epic, and worthy of a book in itself. She also spent time in the USA, in Spain, in Paris, in Thailand and in Brazil, and for much of her life was nomadic, only owning homes for very brief periods, and often lodging with friends or taking up offers of work that involved living with her employers. 

This book is marketed as the story of Freud’s ‘case of homosexuality’, yet this is not of huge significance in the book, nor for me does it state the significance of the book. Being a patient of Freud situates our protagonist in place – Vienna; time – 1918; and class – bourgeois; and it indicates her part refusal to fit with what polite society required from her at that time. The two sides of this therapy relationship are interestingly discrepant, with Freud describing her as ‘A beautiful and clever girl… enamoured of the lady in question… this one interest had swallowed up all others… neglectful of her own reputation… brazen.’ (p. 28). Sidonie’s parents sent her to Professor Freud, wanting him to ‘bring her back to the normal’ (p. 29) from her infatuation with a baroness of dubious reputation. From her side, Sidonie (p. 27) ‘in general, … finds him uninteresting; an old man with a lovely white beard who poses sticky questions and makes unbelievable assertions about her’. It seems that Freud diagnoses that Sidonie is looking for a mother substitute in her devotion to a woman, as her own is cold, distant and competitive, and she has turned away from men due to her envy at her mother having babies with her father in a classic Oedipal interpretation which Sidi finds outrageous. She uses the time to chat away and seems to be engaging to try and please her father enough to not be constrained in being able to see the woman to whom she is devoted. Freud, for his part, realised that she is resisting him emotionally and deceiving him (making up dreams!), has no desire to change in the way her parents want and finally tells her parents that he has finished what he can do, and suggests they may wish to continue with a woman doctor, which is a huge relief to Sidonie. 

It is interesting to think about Sidonie’s early experiences whilst reading about the rest of her life. Of relevance are not just her cold distant mother, but also her socio-cultural environment of growing up Jewish in a climate of anti-Semitism, clearly internalised by her whole family and trying to hide their identities by being confirmed Catholic, with the constant realistic fear of losing their bourgeois position. Despite the strap line of ‘homosexuality’, Sidonie herself is more comfortable with a self-definition of asexuality, and her discomfort and even disgust with bodies is clear throughout. Her passion for certain women is explained by her appreciation of their beauty, and her fantasies of these women are much more sustainable in her psyche than any real relationships. She does have a couple of sexual encounters, however, with two of the greatest loves of her life, the aforementioned baroness Leonie and, later, a short-lived relationship with Wjera, when both women are reunited after their traumatic experiences (particularly Wjera) in the Second World War. 

What is palpable to me throughout the book is her lack of close relationships, with the exception of a dog and a monkey. This is presented as neither loneliness nor independence, but more as an ever-present regret that her fantasies of the women she has loved throughout her life never translate into ongoing relationships, but her wish always seems to be to feel alive with feelings of passion, rather than for anything relational. 

I was upset when Sidi died at the end of the book, despite her being very clear she had had enough of life at the age of 99 – but I didn’t want her story to end. Perhaps the sense I am left with is a regret at feeling I didn’t really get any relational sense of who Sidonie was, beyond a description of her experiences which, however amazing and fascinating in the context of history, nevertheless leave me with a sense of emptiness, which may well be the emptiness that Sidi herself experienced. If this is the case, the authors did an amazing job to evoke such a response. 

I thoroughly recommend this book to all interested in understanding how we construct our lives from the particular circumstances around where, how and when we are thrown into the world, particularly the cultural impacts of anti-Semitism and heteronormativity, and who wonder about the role of therapy in relation to such issues. 

Dr Gillian Proctor is Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Leeds, UK. 

Book Review: The Story of Sidonie C in BACP Private Practice, September 2020

Private Practice is the quarterly journal of BACP Private Practice division, for counsellors and psychotherapists working independently. It is published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy ( BACP)

REVIEW BY: Catherine Jackson, freelance editor and writer, specialising in counselling and mental health

BACP Private Practice, September 2020 p.37

Sidonie C’ was the subject of Freud’s only recorded ‘Case of Homosexuality in a Woman’, published in 1920. She was, in fact, Margarethe Csonka, the indulged daughter of a Viennese industrialist, whose life spanned almost the whole of the 20th century, from 1900 to 1999. Her biographers decided to respect her confidentiality nonetheless, and gave her the name ‘Sidonie’, or Sidi.

The book is drawn from interviews with Sidi in the latter years of her life when she had returned to Vienna, having fled the Nazi Anschluss during the Second World War. Her family was Jewish, although she was raised a Catholic. She left Vienna a year or so into the war, aided by various Jewish refugee organisations. She lived first with two of her brothers in Cuba and then, post war, in America.

Aged 18, Sidi became infatuated with a married woman who openly had affairs with both women and men. Such was her passion that, on being rejected by the woman, Sidi tried to take her own life. In despair, her parents sent her to see Freud. Freud was not opposed to homosexuality, or optimistic about the success of psychoanalysis in converting a person to heterosexuality: ‘In general,’ he wrote, ‘to undertake to convert a fully developed homosexual into a heterosexual does not offer much more prospect of success than the reverse, except that for good practical reasons the latter is never attempted’. Humans, he argued, are essentially bisexual; often, they will simply choose what is available.

Sidi’s exposure to Freud’s observations continued for about four months. In that time, she managed, guilelessly at times and at other times with deliberate intent, to bamboozle him and make a nonsense of his pronouncements. She chatted to him chirpily about the acceptable face of her busy social life, complained about her indulged brothers, her mother’s harsh treatment of her and her father’s angry attempts to make her obey him, and concocted a few dreams for him, as he seemed to want her to have some. She found him, frankly, creepy. His conclusion was, predictably, a simple inversion of his interpretation of male homosexuality: Sidonie was in love with her father, jealous of her mother and, at the same time, desperate for her love and approval. Thus, she sought it in another, older woman.

However, this potentially fascinating tale occupies only a few pages of the book. The rest tells the no less fascinating tale of the entirety of Sidi’s eventful life against the backdrop of 20th century Europe’s turbulent history. There isn’t much of direct professional interest to counsellors and psychotherapists, other than its cautionary tale of how one of the founding figures of their profession got it so wrong, blinded (or blocked?) as he was by his own theories to the reality of the young woman lying on his couch.

Lost Prestige Book Launch Event

on September 22, 2020 at the Petőfi Literary Museum / Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary

Sponsored by the Danube Institute and Helena History Press

A panel of historians was brought together to discuss Géza Jeszenszky’s book Lost Prestige: Hungary’s changing image in Britain, 1894 – 1918   

Newly translated in English, and new editions published in Hungarian by Fekete Sas Publishing


Panel:

  • Moderator: John O’Sullivan, President of the Danube Institute
  • Géza Jeszenszky Historian, Former Hungarian Foreign Minister, Ambassador to the United States, Norway, and Iceland
  • Tibor Frank Professor of History, Department of American Studies Eötvös Loránd University
  • Ágnes Beretzky Associate Professor of History Károli Gáspár University

Book Event: The Story of Sidonie C: with Jane Czyzselska and Stella Duffy

by Gay’s the Word bookshop Friday 20th November, 2020 on Zoom

London’s independent LGBT book specialist, offering a wide choice of gay books and film that goes well beyond the mainstream. Est. 1979, the author Armistead Maupin describes GTW as ‘the fountainhead of queer literature in Britain.


An event inspired by the recently translated book The Story of Sidonie C by Ines Rieder and Diana Voigt (translated by Jill Hannum and Ines Rieder) published by Helena History Press. 

At the age of 17 Margarethe Csonka fell deeply in love with a stunning and notorious upper-class courtesan, attempted suicide when she was rejected and was sent by her parents to Prof. Freud to be “normalized”. The attempted cure was a failure. 

Now finally available in English, this biography of Margarethe Csonka-Trautenegg (1900-1999) offers a fully-rounded picture of a willful and psychologically complex aesthete. As Freud’s never-before-identified “case of female homosexuality”, her analysis continues to spark often heated psychoanalytic debate.

Margarethe’s (“Sidonie’s”) experiences spanned the twentieth century. Jewish by birth, she fled upper-class life in Vienna for Cuba to escape the Nazis, only to return post-war to a “leaden” city and relative poverty. Fleeing again, she took various jobs abroad, and returned permanently only in old age. The interviews and taped oral histories that form the basis of this book were produced during the final five of her years. Well-researched historical background information supplements the story of Margarethe’s journey across time and continents.


photo credit: Gino Sprio

“From my perspective as a queer woman, a writer and a trainee psychotherapist, there is so much about this book that is worth investigating. While Freud was among the first in the medical profession to acknowledge that our gayness was not a sin but a part of our humanity, his work has also been used to brutalise gay people for decades, including notorious concepts like conversion therapy, that the main psychotherapeutic bodies in the UK only condemned in the past decade. Those of us who have lived queer lives throughout these changes know we still have a long way to go, and redressing past ‘histories’ is part of that journey.”
– Stella Duffy 

Stella Duffy is a prolific writer, co-director of Fun Palaces, yoga teacher and trainee existential therapist https://stelladuffy.blog/ 

@stellduffy


Photo credit: Holly Falconer

“Ever since Freud wrote his paper on a lesbian patient 100 years ago in 1920, the true identity of the unnamed patient remained a mystery. He couldn’t have known that his patient would still desire women into her hundredth year, and that one day, she would get to tell her own story. This is a fascinating and important book – for me particularly so, because of my personal connection to one of the patient’s lovers – but also for anyone interested in queer, psychoanalytic and Jewish history.”
– Jane Czyzselska

Jane Czyzselska is a psychotherapist and writer. She works in private practice and combines her love of writing, psychotherapy and documenting LGBTIQ+ lived experience in contributions to journals and events. She is the former editor of DIVA. https:/tinyurl.com/LGBTQItherapy

@czyzselska