Prof. Dr. Sepsi Enikő

egyetemi tanár




I started my career in the Budapest-based Eötvös József Collegium. The very start of my career in this Institution has also given me the opportunity to realise the importance of talent nurturing (with respect to both the management and the development of the intellectual and institutional conditions of talent nurturing), which I have been cherishing ever since. It is my conviction that there can be no individual intellectual achievement or outstanding academic performance without planned and conscious schooling and school community building of a similar kind. I am glad that this approach has led to successful institutional changes at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary.

Between 2008 and 2009, I participated in establishing, developing and managing an excellence network between Eötvös József Collegium, the Paris-based École Normale Supérieure and the Pisa-based Scuola Normale Superiore. I also initiated and took part in preparing a parliamentary bill concerning Hungarian excellence centres of colleges for advanced studies.

In 2009, I was appointed Secretary General of Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, and since 2010 I have been the Dean of the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. During my office, the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has become one of Hungary’s recognised faculties of humanities, which has doubled the number of its students and has established as many as 40 new training programmes. Apart from organisational changes, a new initiative called Community Week has been introduced: the event has become a tool of organisational and strategy development, and later, it started to function as a tool of implementation of such development through workshops organised for the university’s management, staff and students. As an extra activity in addition to the university curriculum, this event also offers programmes for professional and spiritual development and recreation.

In 2012, I founded the Institute of Arts Studies and General Humanities, and within it, two new departments and several new related training programmes. In 2015, I initiated the foundation of Benda Kálmán College of Excellence in Humanities and Social Sciences, and after the completion of the construction work, I became its first director and the head of its Arts Studies and Arts Pedagogy Workshop in 2017.


I have introduced and incorporated the study and the translation of contemporary French poetry in the university curriculum, for which I have designed teaching materials and a course book. In fact, I have been in active and living work relationships with the theatrical expert Valère Novarina and theatre theoretical expert Patrice Pavis, as well as with the poets Yves Bonnefoy and Jean-Michel Maulpoix whose poems have been translated. My research areas include modern and contemporary French and Hungarian poetry, theatre studies, translation studies and religious studies (modern and contemporary mysticism).

I am particularly interested in the intersections of poetic, theatrical and philosophical lifeworks that aim at overcoming the narrow and limited horizon of the “I” (including works by János Pilinszky, Robert Wilson, Mallarmé, Yves Bonnefoy, Valère Novarina, and Simone Weil). I researched János Pilinszky’s poetic theatrical vision first in 1998: I examined documents deposited at Columbia University and analysed unpublished documents kept in the New York-based Wilson Digital Archives and an amateur recording of the play entitled Deafman Glance (one of my studies addresses this question: “Pilinszky János költészete a hatvanas-hetvenes években és Robert Wilson színháza” [“János Pilinszky’s poetry in the 1960 and 70s and Robert Wilson’s theatre], published in Merre, hogyan? Tanulmányok Pilinszky Jánosról (In which direction and how? Studies on János Pilinszky’s literary works), Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum, 1997, pp. 139-153). I also wrote about this topic in my doctoral dissertation (co-tutelle), which I defended in Paris in 2003 and in my books, which were published in French in 2014 and in a modified version in Hungarian in 2015. My study published by the American McFarland Publisher’s book series (and journal) entitled Text & Presentation approaches this theatrical intersection from the perspective of rite research. I assumed pioneering roles in the following activities: presenting Yves Bonnefoy’s lifework to the Hungarian public and the contextualisation of Valère Novarina’s lifework in theatre studies (with respect to Hungary, France and USA). In addition, the first conference addressing the topic of the poetic consequences of Simone Weil’s intellectual world was co-organised by Jérôme Thélot and me in the Paris-based École Normale Supérieure (the proceedings of the conference were published by Kimé Publishers in 2007 under the title Simone Weil et le poétique). Moreover, at a request by Miklós Vető, I participated both in organising the centenary conference dedicated to Simone Weil, and in editing the conference proceedings, which was published in Paris and in Budapest (Simone Weil – philosophie, mystique, esthétique; Simone Weil – filozófia, misztika, esztétika [Simone Weil – Philosophy, Mysticism, Aesthetics]).


My research and publication activities extend to a relatively wide scope and comprise modern and contemporary French and Hungarian poetry – especially Yves Bonnefoy’s and János Pilinszky’s lifework –, contemporary French theatre and theatre theory (more specifically, contextualising Valère Novarina’s theatre and Patrice Pavis’ theory in Hungary and in the Hungarian language), as well as the religious philosophical and poetical implications and forerunners (Alain and Jules Lagneau) of religious philosopher Simone Weil and her lifework, which also impacted János Pilinszky. My activities as a translator were inevitably and naturally linked to my research activities in the field of translation studies. All of these reflections are connected through the naturally given relationship between poetry and the theatre as well as the deep and fundamental relationship that holds between theatrical forms considered poetic and poetic modes of creating imaginary stages in literature, and the examination of the appearance of visuality in diverse arts.

The novelty of my research concerning Pilinszky’s concept of the theatre dates back to the end of the 1990s: during my research in the Wilson Digital Archives in New York I found an amateur recording of Wilson’s first European performance of Deafman Glance, which performance had a fundamental effect on Pilinszky’s concept of the theatre. (At the beginning of the 2000s, I made the recording available to Hungary’s Petőfi Literary Museum.) I discussed this impact in detail in my book on Pilinszky, which was published both in Hungarian and in English, and emphasised the textual realisations of the theatrical visions developed, from the perspective of poetry, by Pilinszky on the basis of Mallarmé’s concept of the “théâtre de la Pensée” (Theatre of Thought, Mental Theatre). It was also in New York, in the manuscript archives of Columbia University that I found two unpublished letters by Wilson, which address the topic of the relationship between liturgy and the theatre: this discovery shed light on the inspirational resources of the Wilsonian theatre, which – up to that point – was considered extremely secular. Also of interest to Hungarian readers is an open letter published in the Appendix of my above-mentioned Hungarian-language book: this open letter was written by Louis Aragon to the late André Breton on the occasion of the French premiere of Deafman Glance. At a drama conference held in Orlando (USA), I examined the meeting points between Pilinszky and the Wilsonian theatre (topic of my paper: Poems and dramatic texts inspired by Deafman Glance and the related theatrical experience) using theories of rituals well-known in cultural anthropology and I also extended my investigations by including the research perspective afforded by the new and original concept of poetic rituality. My study was published by McFarland Publishers in 2017.

I regard introducing the Hungarian public and academic circles to the poet Yves Bonnefoy’s as well as the playwright and stage director Valère Novarina’s lifeworks (through translations, the incorporation of these literary works into university-level courses, as well as their discussion in thesis papers, in doctoral theses and in my studies) as one of my important scientific achievements, which also impacts arts. Far-reaching results of my research on Bonnefoy and Novarina are the exploration of the relationship between these French artists’ work and Pilinszky’s lifework (which also facilitated the Hungarian reception of these French works), and a novel approach to Novarina’s theatre through a theology (more specifically, Christology) based concept called kenosis. This approach was published in my book entitled Kép, jelenlét, kenózis (Image, Presence, Kenosis) and was presented (in the scope of a 45-minute-long featured lecture) at a one-week-long international lifework conference held in Cerisy-la-Salle in August 2018: my speech was well received.

My third large-scale research interest is Simone Weil’s lifework (which is also related to Pilinszky). A new focus in the examination of this lifework was offered by an earlier conference entitled “Simone Weil et le poétique” and its conference proceedings published by the Parisian Kimé Publishers. The conference was held in the Paris-based École Normale Supérieur while I was on a postdoctoral scholarship at University Paris XII. In the scope of this research effort – just like in my research concerning Bonnefoy’s lifework –, my co-editor was Jérôme Thélot, who was professor at University Paris XII and later at University Lyon 3. (J. Thélot is the editor of Bonnefoy’s lifework publications in the series entitled Pléiade, which is the only printed material containing an original French text written by Bonnefoy, and which was offered for exclusive publication in our 2014 book entitled A Different Home (Másik otthon). On the occasion of the Hungarian event of the Simone Weil centenary, at the request of Miklós Vető, Jérôme Thélot and I wrote a book of studies published in Paris and Budapest. A novelty of my study published in this book is the exploration of the direct predecessors and philosophies leading up to Bonnefoy’s lifework, i.e. philosophies by Alain and Jules Lagneau (another study of mine about Alain was published by two distinguished professors currently at École Normale Supérieure, Michel Murat and Frédéric Worms, in the series of studies entitled Éditions rue d’Ulm). Also unique is my interpretation of the drama entitled Venice Saved (Venice sauvée) as philosophical theatre (“theatrum philosophicum”), which movement aims at overcoming the narrow and limited horizon of the “I”. This line of thought was also examined from the perspective of the concept of kenosis, and was published in the form a paper presented at a conference at Pázmány Péter Catholic University organised by Balázs Mezei in commemoration of the 80th birthday of Miklós Vető; this paper is also published in my book entitled Image, Presence, Kenosis.

Finally, let me mention that my routine activities of organisation development and talent nurturing were complemented by my publications and educational activities in the above fields, which surfaced as, and prompted, new areas of research in my research portfolio and contributed to the diversification of the digital teaching.

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