The Department of Czech Literature and Comparative Literature conducts systematic research into the history of Czech literature, theory of literature and culture, related applied disciplines, and general as well as comparative literature. The academic interests of our staff and regular partners cover all key stages of the history of Czech literature from its early days until present. Research methods draw on the legacy of the Prague School of Structuralism, reaching out, however, to embrace expertise from other fields such as semiotics, phenomenology, hermeneutics, reception aesthetics, new historicism, gender studies and cultural studies. The Department prefers to implement a variety and polyphony of approaches,rather than adhering to one single dominant methodology. Principal research topics, pursued by most members of our Department either as independent researchers or in team work, revolve around 19th century literature and culture, literature and culture at the fin de siècle, artistic avant-garde, the Holocaust from the perspective of literary and cultural studies, pop-culture, and theoretical aspects of the poetics of literature, narratology, and theoretical aspects of the contact between philosophy and literary thought.
For several years, the Department was engaged in a faculty-wide research plan entitled Foundations of the Modern World as Reflected by Literature and Philosophy. In addition, the Department ran a Czech Artistic Avant-Garde Research Centre, an initiative lasting five years, funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports; most recently, the Department has initiated the foundation of the Holocaust Literature Research Centre. In 2003, continuous work began towards developing a Czech Electronic Library offering basic academic literature and, in some cases, fiction for students of Czech literature and, later, for those interested in comparative literature: the electronic library is accessible to the Department’s undergraduates and visually impaired students of other departments of CU as well as of other universities. Our staff have also been engaged in a research plan entitled History of Late Modern Literature in Multinational Contexts, resulting in the publication of, inter alia, the book Dejiny nové moderny (A History of Late Modern Literature) on Czech literature in 1905–1923. Currently, the Department is contributing to a research plan entitled Culture and Totalitarian Regimes, in addition to being in charge of research plans entitled Trash Literature: „Trivial“ and „Popular“ Genres and Literary Forms from the Perspective of Historical Development and Concepts of Popular Culture and Methodology of Edition Work.
The Department is publisher of the peer-reviewed journal Slovo a# smysl / Word and Sense (Journal for Interdisciplinary Czech Studies), and of a monothematic series Studie z komparatistiky (Studies in Comparative Literature). Professor Vladimír Svaton, a leading member of our Department, is the editor-in-chief of a peer-reviewed journal for modern literature, Svet literatury (The World of Literature). For several years, the Department has been publishing the journal Host do školy (Visiting Schools), concerned with the teaching of Czech literature and literary theory in secondary schools. Furthermore, the Department is responsible for the academic content and organization of several book series: Opera litterarum bohemicarum studentium magistrorumque; Cesta avantgardy (Trends in the Avant-garde) containing Czech as well as translated foreign works; and Scholares, a series containing documentaries and popular nonfiction, published in cooperation with the Paseka Publishing House, later with the Pistorius & Olšanská Publishing House. Another publishing initiative of the Department is the electronic series Sorela, a web centre for research in arts and literature of Czechoslovak socialist realism.
Locally, the Department maintains academic and teaching cooperation with the Institute of Bohemian Studies, Faculty of Philosophy, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice and the Institute of Czech Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague. Long-term partnership in teaching and training involves the Research Institute of Education and CERMAT, Centre on Measurement in Education.Internationally, our long-term partners include the University of Hamburg (a project on narratology, prof.Wolf Schmid), University of Konstanz (projects on literature and the media, identity and otherness, prof. Iuri Murasov), University of Warsaw (the project Doswiadczenie I”dziedzictwo totalitaryzmu na obszarze kultur srodkowoeuropejskich, prof. J Goszczynska). Members of our teaching and academic teams hold lectures in departments of Czech, Slavonic or comparative studies at the University of Vienna, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, University of Udine and University of Rome. Furthermore, regular contact is maintained with a number of independent experts, while teaching cooperation has been established with the University of Texas, Austin, and Brown University, Providence, USA.
Over the last five years, the Department has organized or co-organized several notable congresses and conferences (e.g. Landscape Without Qualities; Third Congress of the World Czech Literary Studies; 20th Century Czech Christian Poetry and Prose: Foundations and Perspectives; Božena Nemcová: Life, Time and Works; F. X. Šalda 1867–1937–2007; The Holocaust in Czech, Polish and Slovak Literatures).
The Department is a regular co-organizer of a Czech-Polish conference which brings together experts in Czech and Polish Studies from Charles and Warsaw Universities. Moreover, the Department regularly extends invitations to a number of leading experts in literary studies from Europe and America (including Professors Marta Fattori, Sylvie Richterová, Wolf Schmid, Holt Meyer, John Pier, Raul Eshelmann, Peter A. Zussi, Xavier Galmiche, and others).