History of the Department of South Slavonic Languages and Literatures

Originally, the program in South Slavonic languages and literatures focused mainly on Croatian language and literature, and all South Slavonic languages and literatures were studied within the Section for Croatian and Serbian Language and Literature, and later, in the Department of Yugoslav Languages and Literatures. After the establishment of the Department of Croatian in 1992, the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literatures has incorporated the Instructorship of Bulgarian Language and Literature, the Section for Macedonian Language and Literature, the Section for Slovenian Language and Literature, and the Section for Serbian and Montenegrin Literature. Bosnian literature can be studied within a course on the comparative history of South Slavonic literatures or other elective courses. In addition to the existing courses and experts on comparative Slavonic literature, a position has been opened for Slavonic comparative linguistics (with an emphasis on the South Slavonic languages). Besides one-language degree programs in Russian, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, and Slovak, since 1995/96 the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literatures has been offering a single-subject course of Slavonic studies that has as a basis one of the aforementioned one-language studies with the addition of several general Slavonic subjects and the possibility of choosing one of the South Slavonic languages and literatures as a second major. Since 1998/99 a two-subject Slavonic program has been developing (with an accent on the South Slavonic languages and literatures). One of the main features of this study is inner flexibility: the courses are elective and last for two terms (with the tendency of introducing one-term courses). With its openness to general Slavonic subjects and to a third Slavonic language, and especially with the possibility of combining courses from different Slavonic programs, the two-subject South Slavonic program is a step forward in terms of scholarship and teaching engagement. This program can be compared to the Slavonic programs at universities abroad, and the students are given a chance of a more complex major according to both central-European and Western traditions.

Experts on South Slavonic languages and literatures have in recent years changed their work conditions. Along with departments of East Slavonic languages and literatures and West Slavonic languages and literatures, the Department for South Slavonic Languages and Literatures has been established, and the South Slavonic studies have grown into an independent department with four fields of study (Slovene language and literature, Serbian language and Serbian and Montenegrin literatures, Bulgarian language and literature, and Macedonian language and literature). There are three courses in the graduate program within this newly founded department: a course on linguistics and translation, a course on literature and interculture, and a course on Serbian language and literature for future teachers of Serbian.

A special place in this field of studies have both South Slavonic comparative studies approach and intercultural approach but of particular interest are also each of the national philologies (literatures). South Slavonic studies comprise approximately 120 students and 14 members of teaching staff (professors, lectors, and junior assistants), with addition of 2-4 external associates. The Department and the five chairs have held a few research projects, mainly in terms of theory and methodology, and comparative-intercultural perspectives (Modern theories of literary history, Croatian-Macedonian drama and theatre relations, Croatian and Slovene literatures as neighbouring literatures, Croatian and Closely Related Cultural and Linguistic Communities, Literary, language, and cultural aspects of Croatian-Macedonian relations, Intercultural literary history, etc.). Research projects and professors’ research endeavours are primarily aimed at research on the theory of literature, and it is thus the most develop and most recent South-Slavonic centre in Croatia. In terms of symposia the following bilateral Slavonic conferences are to be highlighted: four Croatian-Slovene and three (in collaboration with Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Rijeka) Croatian-Macedonian. Plans for other bilateral South-Slavonic conferences have also been made (Croatian-Bulgarian, Croatian-Bosnian, and Croatian-Serbian).

Long-term goals of studies are as follows: to educate experts on all South Slavonic languages and literatures, on their mutual intercultural relations, and on their relations with Croatian language and literature; to educate proficient translators for Bulgarian, Macedonian or Slovene, and to educate teachers of Serbian language and literature, Serbian being the largest Slavonic national minority in the Republic of Croatia, etc.