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This Department, which brings together researchers from Prague and Brno, focuses on research into 20th century Czech literature. Work at the Department is informed by three methodological perspectives: in addition to the the literary historical approach we also focus on problems of interpretation and the issues surrounding the poetics of a work. 

Output from the Department includes the four-volume History of Czech Literature 1945-1989 (Academia 2007-2008). This is an extensive history of postwar literature, stressing not only the issues surrounding historical poetics (transformations in poetry, prose, drama, popular literature, literature for children and young adults and non-fiction), but also providing a multifaceted map of literary life and literary communication (censorship, publishers, journals, literature in audiovisual media – films, radio and television). The Editor-in-Chief is Pavel Janoušek and the editors are Petr Čornej, Blahoslav Dokoupil, Pavel  Janáček, Vladimír Křivánek, Jiřina Táborská and Alena Fialová. The thirty-plus members of the team of authors were external co-workers from university and other academic establishments. The resultant publication won the Josef Hlávka award in 2009. The project also included a four-volume anthology From the History of Czech Thought on Literature 1945-89, collecting literary journalism from the periodical press of the period (editor Michal Přibáň). This History directly tied in thematically with the collective publication In the Coordinates of Freedom. 1990s Czech Literature in Interpretations (Academia  2008). This project run by editors Petr Hruška, Lubomír Machala, Libor  Vodička and Jiří Zizler presented key literary works from the period under review in interpretative entries, while providing a basic literary historical overview of events in Czech literature as a whole and in individual genres.

Current departmental projects include Figures in 20th Century Czech Literature, presenting an interconnected and uniformly reedited series of scholarly monographs by leading Czech writers who emerged during the 1960s.  The individual books deal with the life stories of selected writers, primarily centring around broad interpretations of their actual artistic output and their place in the broad context of Czech literature. The monographs will be published by the Host Publishing House within the framework of the newly established Faces of Czech Literature Series, in which a monograph by Pavel Janoušek has already come out: Ivan Vyskočil and his Unliterature. Monographs are also forthcoming on Karel Šiktanc (Petr Hruška), Ivan Diviš (Jiří Zizler)  and Václav Havel (Libor Vodička). In the next few years monographs are also anticipated on Ladislav Fuks (Erik Gilk) and Vladimír Páral (Lubomír Machala). From  2010 departmental staff will continue to work on the project with monographs on Oldřich  Daněk, František Hrubín, Věra Linhartová, Zdeněk Rotrekl, Zdeněk Svěrák and Ivan Wernisch.

Project Czech Literature of the first decade of the 21st century in relevances and interpretations is a sequel of project Czech Literature of the 1990s: Syllabus of interpretative papers, which gave birth to collective publication V souřadnicích volnosti (Czech Literature of the 1990s in interpretations) published in 2008 by the  Academia Publishing House. The working team intends to follow the successful and tried-and-true conception based on a combination of historico-literary approach and interpretation of particular texts and to keep it also for mapping the Czech literarature between 2000 and 2010. The introductory papers shows literary life in 2000-2010 in a broad context, the opening papers of each section (prose, poetry, drama; about 20-30 pages) sum up distinctive tendenciess and movements in the given literary genre. The focus of the project is in the extensive entry section, in which selected prosaic, poetic and drama texts of the period in question will be interpreted (about 70-80 entries in total). The selection of the interpreted works is based on the goal of the project: not to canonize prematurely but to capture the literature of 2000-2010 as a living process, to highlight the works which significantly contributed to development of literature in the followed period.

Since 2005, in collaboration with the Palacký University Faculty of Arts, the Department has arranged regular Olomouc conferences entitled Czech Culture and Art in the Twentieth Century, focusing on issues of: Ideology and Imagination, The Image of History in 20th Century Art, Discoveries and Errors in 20th Century Art, Contacts and Conflicts of Cultures, and in 2009 The Artistic Experiment. The Department also participates in the organization of other Institute events.

Departmental members also teach in higher education (at Charles University Catholic Theological Faculty, Charles University Pedagogical Faculty, Charles University Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University Faculty of Arts and Palacký University Faculty of Arts).

Current projects

Literature under the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1939-1945) (Pavel Janoušek, Czech Science Foundation 2018–2020)

Collective literary-historical work dedicated to literary life and literary production on the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 19391945, that is, in the period when the political and cultural life in the Czech lands was defined by German occupation and the World War. The research focuses on the newly emerging Czech literature in the region known as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Attention will also be paid to Czech exile literature, as well as Czech German and German literature, which is related to this area. An important part of the research is the analysis of the period literary life and more general circumstances influencing not only the literary production and publication, but also its reception, including the so called secondary life of literature in the theatre, radio or film. 

Original Czech Protectorate-Era Radio Plays as Autonomization Projects (Lenka Jungmannová, Czech Science Foundation 2020–2022)

This project takes as its subject an important phenomenon of Protectorate culture—original Czech radio plays, which bolstered the national self-conscience and were also crucial in the development of radio plays as a genre. From a literary-historical perspective, the applicant will analyze these original plays in the historical context of their original broadcasting, describe their autonomization tendencies, and draw connections to radio play and production theory.


Departmental members