Gyorgy E. Szonyi

Affiliated Faculty
egyetemi tanár
Visiting Professor
Year of Birth: 

Contact information

Budapest, Nador u. 11
+36 1 327-3000 x2080

György E. Szönyi is a visiting professor of cultural and intellectual history in the Departments of History and Medieval Studies at CEU. He is also professor of English and Hungarian Studies at the University of Szeged. He is a cultural- and literary historian with special interest in the Renaissance, the role of Western esotericism in early modern and postmodern culture/literature, cultural theory, especially in cultural symbolization and the relationship of words and images, and Hungarian Studies.

Studies: He graduated from the University of Szeged majoring in English and Hungarian, later also pursued studies in Polish philology at the University of Budapest. For academic degrees see "Qualifications" below.

Publications: His monographs include Gli Angeli di John Dee (Rome: Tre Editori, 2004); Pictura & Scriptura. 20th-Century Theories of Cultural Representations (in Hungarian, Szeged, 2004); John Dee's Occultism. Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs (Albany: SUNY Press, 2004, pb. 2010). Books in the making: The Enoch Readers. A Cultural History of Angels, Magic, and Ascension on High (in English); The Lure of the Occult: Western Esotericism and (Post)modern Fiction (in English); Our Image of the Past on the Screen: Filmic Representations of History (in Hungarian); Florence, the Laboratory of the Renaissance (in Hungarian).
He has also edited a number of vlumes on vaious aspects of cultural symbolization and iconology.
Since 1998 he has been editor in charge of the series Ikonológia és műértelmezés [Iconology and Interpretation] and Papers in English and American Studies (both published in Szeged by JATEPress).
He is on the editorial board of Aries and Aries Monograph Series (E. J. Brill) and several other national and international journals. He was board member of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE, 2005-11) and serves the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism in the same capacity (ESSWE, 2009-).

Important scholarships: IREX (USA, 1984, 1 month); Fulbright (USA, 1986/87, 10 months; 2004, 5 months); Mellon (Germany, 1995, 3 months; USA, 2001, 3 months; Germany, 2013, 2 months); Senior Fellow, Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study (1998/9, 10 months); during 2009 he served as Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the Department of English, Communication, Media and Film of Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge (12 months).

Guest lecturerships / guest courses: University of Warsaw (1980-82); Elon University, North Carolina (1987, 5 months); University of Hull (1993, 6 weeks); University of Sussex (1994, 6 weeks); University of Vienna (1996, 2 weeks); University of Turku (2000, 1 month); University of Milan (2002, 1 week); University of Kansas (2004, 5 months); University of Salzburg (2005, 2006, 2x1 week); University of Warsaw (2008, 2 weeks); University of West Virginia (2008, 1 month); Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (2009, 1 year).

Organizer of international conferences:Iconology of East and West 1-5 (Szeged, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013); Image/Text featuring Hans Belting and WJT Mitchell (Szeged, 2005); Lux in Tenebris – 3rd Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism featuring Michael Allen, Lina Bolzoni, Moshe Idel, and Pia Brinzeu (Szeged, 2011); Iconology Old and New – Transregional Conference on the Move (Rijeka–Budapest/CEU–Szeged, with Marina Vicelja and Attila Kiss; a wide range of illustrious keynote speakers including Barbara Baert, Ivan Gerat, Massimo Leone, János Kelemen, WJT Mitchell, Jolán Orbán, Marina Warner, Rowland Wymer); Western Esotericism in East-central Europe over the Centuries (Budapest/CEU, 2014); Teaching Visual Culture: Methodologies, Challenges, Perspectives (Budapest/CEU, 2014).

Pastime: 2 novels, photography, video, travel.

Courses taught in the previous years

  • Ascension on High: Occult Theories and Practice from Antiquity to the Renaissance
  • History on Film / Film on History - Medieval and Renaissance Theme
  • The Renaissance: Culture, Institutions, Representations 
  • Topical Survey I: Visual Culture: History and Mediality (together with Gerhard Jaritz)

CEU doctoral supervision:

  • Writers of tales: a study on national literary epic poetry with a comparative analysis of the Albanian and South Slavic cases / Francesco La Rocca (2017)
  • Born for Phoebus : solar-astral symbolism and poetical self-representation in Conrad Celtis and his humanist circles / Áron Orbán (2017)
  • Cyprus in Venetian and Ottoman Political Imagination, c. 1489-1582 / Tamás Kiss (2016, co-supervisor)
  • Images of distance and closeness : the Ottomans in sixteenth-century Hungarian vernacular poetry / Ágnes Drosztmér (2016, co-supervisor)


Doctor (DSc), Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2004
Dr. habil., ELTE University (Budapest), 2000
Ph.D., Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1993
Dr. univ., József Attila University, Szeged, 1981; M.A. in English and Hungarian Studies, 1977