Department of Central and East European Literature
History of department
The department was founded in 1986 under the direction of Endre Bojtár even though comparatively studying literature of the Central and Eastern European region had been part of the institute’s program since the beginning. The department (was called Department of World Literature first and Department of Comparative Literary History later) was processing the connections between the literature of Hungary and its neighbouring nations. This program – together with the countries involved – resulted in publishing bilingual essay books. This is how Russian (1961), Czechoslovakian (1965), Polish (1969) and Southern Slavish (1972) related volumes emerged with rich material and with many long needed studies. Writing the history of the neighbouring literature was also in the agenda, unfortunately only László Sziklay’s work the History of the Slovak Literature had been finished in 1962. The institute’s international prestige was substantiated by the conference held in Budapest in 1962 based on the comparative study of the Eastern European literature and by the volume titled La littérature comparée en Europe orientale (1963) which contained the files of the conference. Mostly because of personal reasons (retirement, resignation) the department withered away in spite of the great start.
The new department’s (2-3 members) main goal is to became the Hungarian center of the regions comparative research. This is the reason why not only Slavic and Baltic literature is being researched by the department’s own scholars but there are visiting fellows also invited to study Romanian and Estonian literature. This is how the department was able to create perfect conditions for a complex and synthetic research and now they are aiming to write the comparative literary history of the region. Along the published volumes of essays and monographs the most outstanding accomplishment of the department is the role it took in educating young scholars.
The result of the Central and Eastern European research is the essay collection titled Cross Directions which covers almost the whole cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by touching and defining the most important literary trends.
The international relations of the department were build up with a great speed and very fertile relations were established with several related institutes and departments. Out of the joint works and regularly held conferences, the 1998 Czech–Hungarian scientific conference stands out which had an overall view of the literary relation between the two countries. The subject matter of the conference was published in the volume titled Bohemia et Hungaria.
Endre Bojtár chief of department