Research activities and projects

Principal Areas

English Studies at Charles University was founded in the 1880s and has gained an international recognition by the 1920s as a result of the flourishing of Prague Structuralism. Developing the legacy of the Prague Structuralist School, the Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures focuses on contemporary theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches. The academic staff members are active in a number of specialised research areas, including Shakespeare and Romantic studies, contemporary poetics, critical and cultural theory, performativity, drama and theatre, as well as in Irish, Scottish and Canadian Studies.

A range of research activities are conducted within the framework of individual Sections and Centres, whose profiles provide comprehensive information on specific projects, conferences, publications and outreach activities. Apart from these, our researchers participate in a number of joint grant projects that are listed below.

Major Grant Projects

Creativity and Adaptability as Conditions of the Success of Europe in an Interrelated World (KREAS)

A problem-oriented humanities research project focused on the potential of the European society to produce adequate responses to present-day dangers, to adaptto new social challenges (above all, globalisation, mobility of people and ideas, and new technologies) and to search for creative solutions of problems involved in these challenges. The crises arising in confrontations with the other - different cultural and political models, migration or the consequences of global interconnectedness of the world - are not understood as threats, but as impulses towards building a future for Europe and its values.

This interdisciplinary project links the approaches of communication studies, linguistics, literary studies, history, archaeology, religion studies, psychology and philosophy. The research outputs will contribute towards the resolution of the conflicts and crises presently destabilizing both the EU and the Czech Republic. The intended audiences of the project are state institutions, local authorities and NGOs, but also creative businesses or ‘digital humanities’ centres.

Research programme 1 of the KREAS project, “Autopoiesis and Creativity”, is coordinated by Professor Martin Procházka. The Department guarantees Work Package 1.2 “Fiction, Play, and Performativity as Forms of Creativity and the Foundations of a Pragmatic Concept of Culture”. The team composed of 3 Key Researchers, 1 Senior and 3 Junior Researchers, 2 International Postdoctoral Researchers (from Croatia and Ireland) and 2 Early Stage Researchers (PhD candidates) focuses on:

1. case studies of movements and events in important historical eras and of profiling trends of modern culture: the Early Modern era (theatre as the origin of the creative industry), the Enlightenment and Romanticism (creativity, performativity, and the formation of social and cultural ideologies and emancipation movements), Modernism and contemporary culture (creativity, play, and performativity in avant-garde movements and in alternative, popular and pulp fiction and culture).

2. pragmatic concept of culture as an interface, performative theory of dialogue as a “functional approximation” and cybernetic concept of culture as an emergent phenomenon in relation to entropy. All these synthetic approaches are based on the data and conclusions of the case studies described above sub 1. Within this stage, current concepts of cultural identity will be reassessed with regard to the situation in countries considerably affected by migration.

An important part of the research and its dissemination are 5 international conferences organized by the DALC (Samuel Beckett and Technology – 9/2018; Performativity and Creativity in Modern Cultures – 11/2019; Third World Congress of Scottish Literatures: Transnationalism and Minor Cultures – 6/2020; European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) conference – 9/2021; Culture as Interface and Dialogue11/2021;Creativity and Cybernetic Concept of Culture – 9/2022).

 

The H2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, International Training Networks (MSCA-ITN) project, European Joint Doctorate (EJD) Migration and Modernity: Historical and Cultural Challenges (MOVES)

The chief objective of the project is to undertake a comparative study of the social and cultural roots of mass mobility, and provide the urgently needed historical analysis that can address the so-called migration crisis of the present through an understanding of the population movements of the past. The network has been set up as an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in the Humanities and the Social Sciences who will approach migration as both a condition of modernity and one of its greatest challenges, placing the systematic confrontation of past and present forms of migration at the centre of their activities.

The general coordinator of this Joint Doctorate is Professor Martin Procházka; the project team includes two other members of the Department. Through its innovative training programme, carried out in conjunction with 18 non-academic partners (including NGOs, charities, and the cultural and creative industries), MOVES will enable a new generation of experts gain the historical knowledge required to respond to future migration crises with innovative solutions. Moreover, the project will provide these future experts with conceptual tools required to avoid short-termism in migration management through its emphasis on enduring cultural patterns, historical context, and migration flows over the long term. The links between contemporary and historical migration that MOVES research will uncover can be used to improve educational provision, inform future policy, and counter the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across the EU.

 

Progres Q12 internal research programme of Charles University: “Literature and Performativity”

The programme includes the research of most of the members of the Department. It is focused on the performative features of culture (literary, dramatic and cinematic) and the ways culture and art shape the environments of human life. This is demonstrated by research in a wide range of uses of fiction and play in literature, film and visual art. A particular focus of the project are the changing notions of cultural identity caused by the integration of Europe and increasing migration. Other major research areas include: 1) the relationship of orality and literacy and the expansion of its research to a wider range than that of the mainstream literature, and 2) cultural and geographical discontinuity in modern literatures and cultures (focusing on the comparison of Anglophone and Central European countries).

 

NEW FACES (Facing Europe in Crisis: Shakespeare’s World and Present Challenges)

An Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership (2016-19) that aims to promote historical understanding of the complexities of crises (cultural, linguistic, political, social, religious, economic) to help face a complex contemporary European context. The multidisciplinary approach traces similarities of the present developments to, and their differences from, the dynamics of the early modern period (16th-17th centuries). More specifically, the focus of the NEW FACES Strategic Partnership is on the cultural, political and economic functions of early modern theatre and its wider historical and literary context as global values and principal agents of cultural communication in relation to Europe in crisis. The salient feature of this perspective is the interaction of Shakespeare’s theatre with local and global contexts which has been significantly influencing popular and mass culture. The network is coordinated by the University Paul Valéry Montpellier III and includes, apart from the Department, English departments at the Universities of Utrecht, Porto, Ferrara, Krakow, Szeged and at the Free University Berlin.

 

Publications

The Department publishes an international peer-reviewed interdisciplinary academic journal, Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture. Special issues on modern literatures, cultures and critical theory appear twice a year and the journal is listed in the ERIH database. By the end of 2014, 24 volumes and 47 issues had been published.

The international series Litteraria Pragensia Books publishes monographs on contemporary poetics, literary theory and cultural studies (more than 50 volumes by the end of 2018).

The Department has supported the publication of the complete works of William Shakespeare in Martin Hilský’s translation (William Shakespeare, Dílo, Prague: Academia Publishers, 2011), awarded the Order of Merit of the Czech Republic. The academic staff have published books and book chapters in important international academic presses including Oxford University Press, Blackwood Publishing, John Wiley, Palgrave, Methuen, Northwestern University Press, Rowman and Littlefield, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht and Wilhelm Fink.

Recently Completed Grant Projects

Charles University Programme of Research Development "Literature and Art in Intercultural Contexts – PRVOUK 09", sub-programme “Transformations in the Cultural History of Anglophone Countries: Identities, Periods and Canons.” The project was focused on the changes in the conception and interpretations of the cultural history of Anglophone countries, on the comparative study of individual cultures, the research of great cultural epochs (the Renaissance, Romanticism and Modernism), the study of contemporary poetics and of the relationships between literature and other arts (theatre and film). Theoretical questions included the problems of cultural identities, multiculturalism, canons, utopias and relations between literature and technology.

The second international PhD programme Erasmus Mundus (Erasmus+, 2014-18) in the human sciences Text and Event in Early Modern Europe (TEEME). The cooperation included the University of Kent at Canterbury, the University of Porto in Portugal and the Free University Berlin; the programme included also the organization of international conferences and seminars.

Erasmus IP Programme Staging Early Modern Europe (2012-14) coordinated by the Department, in which 8 European universities (Porto, Murcia, Utrecht, Montpellier, Ferrara, Prague, Berlin and Krakow) cooperated not only in graduate teaching but also in academic publication (special issues of the academic journal Litteraria Pragensia).

The Department was a member in the international network of PhD programmes HERMES, organizing seminars and summer schools in comparative literature and cultural studies for academics and PhD students from 10 European and U.S. universities.

In the past, the Department co-coordinated two important European Thematic Network Projects (ETNP), ACUME and ACUME 2 – Interfacing the Sciences and the Humanities. Department members also worked in the EU project TUNING, focused on the coordination of study programmes in the humanities.  

Further Cooperating Institutions:
International Shakespeare Association, European Association for the Study of English, International Association of Byron Societies, Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Englische Romantik, European Association of American Studies, International Society for Utopian Studies, International Association of Literature and Philosophy, International Federation for Theatre Research, German Society for Contemporary Drama and Theatre in English, International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, European Federation of Centres and Associations of Irish Studies, Irish Society for Theatre Research, International James Joyce Foundation, and several dozen universities in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia;
Czech Association for the Study of English, Czech and Slovak Association of American Studies, Czech Association of Canadian Studies, Czech Academy of Science, Palacký University in Olomouc, Masaryk University in Brno, University of the West Bohemia, University of South Bohemia, Metropolitan University Prague, J. M. W. Fulbright Commission Czech Republic.

Recent Conferences

  1. Samuel Beckett and Technology conference - 2018.
  2. ‘Ar an Imeall i Lár an Domhain?’: An tairseachúlacht i litríocht agus i gcultúr na hÉireann agus na hEorpa conference - 2017.
  3. Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O'Brien Conference - 2015.
  4. Annual Conference of the International Society for Utopian Studies – approximately 100 participants from Europe and North America – 2014.
  5. "Irish Theatre and Central Europe", 11th Annual Irish Theatrical Diaspora Conference - 2014.
  6. 2nd Annual Conference of the Erasmus Mundus Doctoral Programme TEEME – 60 participants from Europe, Asia and both Americas – 2013.
  7. 22nd International Conference of the German Society for Contemporary Theatre and Drama in English – approximately 60 participants from Europe and North America – 2013.
  8. 9th World Shakespeare Congress – in cooperation with the International Shakespeare Association – 670 participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Australia – 2011.
  9. 23rd International James Joyce Symposium – approximately 300 participants from Europe, Asia and North America – 2010.
  10. Robert Burns in Global Culture, in cooperation with the University of Glasgow and AHRC – approximately 150 participants from Europe and North America – 2009.
  11. The Prague School and Theories of Structure, European Thematic Network Project (ETNP) ACUME – approximately 200 participants from Europe, North America, New Zealand – 2007.

 

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CONTACT

Dept. of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures
Faculty of Arts
Charles University
Palachovo nám. 2
116 38 Praha 1