Call for Papers: International Conference “The History of Comparative Literature in Central Europe”, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 5-7 September 2024

Slovenian Comparative Literature Association, in collaboration with the University of Ljubljana and the research group “Towards a History of Comparative Literature in a Global Perspective: Matija Murko and his International Collaborators (J6-4620),” welcomes submission for an international conference entitled The History of Comparative Literature in Central Europe. The conference will be held during the Vilenica literary festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, between 5 and 7 September 2024. 

Anyone interested in presenting a paper on the topic should send their abstract (up to 500 words) in English or Slovenian to or

The deadline for submission is 15 July 2024.

A small amount of funding is available to help cover travel expenses and accommodation.


Comparative literature has a rich and long history in which Central Europe has always played an important role. From Johann Gottfried Herder’s explorations of folk poetry to Hugó Meltzl’s journal Acta Comparationis Litterarum Universarum, Central European comparatists have paved the path for the newly emerging discipline. Considering how influential comparative literary studies were in the socio-political region known as Mitteleuropa, it is surprising that its history remains a largely unexplored topic and therefore underrepresented in academic debates in the discipline. 

Central Europe was historically shaped into a region of its own by various economic, political, and ideological structures. While we intentionally leave the geographic and cultural concept of the area undefined, it is unquestionable that its regional identity was shaped both from within and from the outside. From within, the Central European region always negotiated between its ethnically, linguistically, and culturally heterogeneous communities. This has produced various internal centres and relegated other areas to the position of the periphery. From the outside, Central Europe had to define its position in relation to other global players and transnational associations. These political and cultural circumstances played a crucial role in all areas of intellectual production, including academic research. Comparative literature was no exception and the discipline was often tasked with expanding or subverting established discourses. For instance, Central European comparatists had to acknowledge the rich history of multicultural and multilinguistic literary traditions in the area while at the same time establishing themselves in relation to other academic centres such as the French and the American schools of comparative literature. Despite its relevance for understanding Central European comparative literature, disciplinary self-perceptions and their relation to the internal and external exchange of knowledge have thus far remained unexplored.

An important forerunner of comparative literature was the Slavic philologist Matija Murko who offers a paradigmatic case study for addressing many of the questions raised above. Murko has built a long and successful academic career and has had an immense influence on the development of literary studies in Central Europe and elsewhere. After finishing his studies in Slavic philology at the University of Vienna, he travelled to Russia, became a professor in Graz and Leipzig, and later moved to Prague where he co-founded and headed the Slavonic Studies Institute at a time when the influential “Prague Linguistic Circle” was flourishing there. Both in his academic life and in his research, he has been moving between the academic centres and semi-peripheries of Central Europe, breaking academic barriers (for instance, with his comparative Slavic literary studies) and influencing younger scholars (such as Frank Wollman or Roman Jakobson). His work was appreciated both inside and far beyond Central Europe, so much so that his research on South Slavic oral literature is still considered referential today. Murko’s scholarship thus offers an excellent opportunity to explore topics, questions, methods, international collaborations, and the politics of knowledge prevalent in the history of Central European comparative literature.

We welcome all papers exploring topics related to comparative literature in Central Europe, but especially those that address any of the following questions:

  • The history of comparative literature in Central Europe: Which scholars, schools, topics, or methods have been most influential in Central European comparative literature? Have any been historically overlooked? Why has Central European comparative literature remained under-represented in academic debates on the history of comparative literature? 
  • Academic connections between Central European comparative literature and other regions of the world: To what extent has the French littérature comparée influenced the development of comparative literature in Central Europe, and vice versa? What can be said about the interaction between Central European and Russian literary studies? What have Central European comparatists contributed to the pre- and post-Second World War American comparative literature? 
  • Relations between centres and (semi-)peripheries within Central European comparative literature: What has led to the emergence of asymmetries in the development of comparative literature within Central European academia? How did inequalities in intellectual exchanges between different regions emerge? How were Central Europe’s multilinguistic literary traditions reflected in the field of comparative literature?
  • Matija Murko as an overlooked Central European comparatist: What is the significance of Murko’s scholarship for the development of Central European comparative literature? What was Murko’s role in the development of comparative Slavic studies? How did Murko envisage philology as a humanistic discipline and what place does his research on oral literature occupy in contemporary literary studies?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *