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Members of the seminar investigate the legal, political, and institutional aspects of society both as they function in reality and as they should function according to theory. The investigation is both global and timeless, although European and American interests seem to dominate. Lectures and discussions range from classical Greece, Rome, and Israel, through medieval Europe, Islam, and Asia, to modern and contemporary societies. Aspects of Roman, Talmudic, Islamic, canon and common laws are examined. The majority of the lectures are presented by the members of the seminar, most of whom are academics in history, political science or law, or professionals who have become editors. One or two papers each year are presented by visiting scholars.

Dr. Sarah Danielsson

Dr. Kenneth Pearl

Isaiah DuPree

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.

Meeting Schedule

10/15/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
The Hungarian Soviet Republic and the Peacemaker Woodrow Wilson
Peter Pastor, Montclair State University

11/19/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Böske Simon, Miss Hungaria and Miss Europa (1929): Beauty Pageants and Packaging Gender, Race, and National Identity in Interwar Hungary
Louise Vasvári, Stony Brook University, SUNY


In this interdisciplinary article that draws on the intersections of Hungarian and Jewish Studies within a framework of cultural studies and gender studies, Louise O. Vasvári investigates the socio-political role of beauty pageants in 1920s European and—more specifically—in Hungarian social, political and cultural life. The article is structured as a case study of the life of Böske Simon, who was born into a bourgeois Jewish family in 1909 and who won the first Miss Hungaria competition in 1929, soon followed by the title of Miss Europa. Vasvári aims to place Simon’s role as Hungarian beauty queen in a broader focus by examining from a gender perspective the international development of beauty pageants, of the illustrated press, and of commercial beauty culture in the 1920s. She examines the symbolic space allotted to the concept “Modern Girl,” who in the interwar [re]construction of gender and national identities came to represent both the enticements and the dangers of modernity. More specifically, she examines how the problematic gender representation of women in such pageants and their reception by the press and by the public interact in the broader interwar nationalistic cultural sphere in post-Trianon Hungary.

02/18/2020 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Law, Insurgency, and Enlightened Repression: The Establishment of the Liberal State in Nineteenth Century Central America
Gilmar Visoni, Queensborough Community College, CUNY