Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

National Poets and Cultural Saints of Europe: Commemorative Cults, Canonization, and Cultural Memory

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.07.00  Humanities  Literary sciences   

Code Science Field
H390  Humanities  General and comparative literature, literary criticism, literary theory 

Code Science Field
6.02  Humanities  Languages and Literature 
national poets, cultural saints, nation-building, cultural nationalism, commemorative cults, literary canon, canonization, cultural memory, memorials, Europe
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (11)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  09175  PhD Bojan Baskar  Culturology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  431 
2.  29396  PhD Monika Deželak Trojar  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2016  115 
3.  21450  PhD Marijan Dović  Literary sciences  Head  2014 - 2017  579 
4.  30792  PhD Jernej Habjan  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  191 
5.  34595  PhD Andraž Jež  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  108 
6.  06442  PhD Marko Juvan  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  722 
7.  01397  PhD Alenka Koron  Humanities  Researcher  2014 - 2017  257 
8.  32213  PhD Urška Perenič  Humanities  Researcher  2014 - 2017  424 
9.  19021  PhD Irena Samide  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  350 
10.  04280  MSc Jola Jožica Škulj  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  342 
11.  24714  PhD Luka Vidmar  Literary sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2017  491 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  95,778 
2.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  61,162 
The research project “National Poets and Cultural Saints of Europe: Commemorative Cults, Canonization, and Cultural Memory” examines a hitherto poorly researched area. It uses a comparative approach to identify and describe the patterns of commemoration and canonization of national poets and other artists as a specific set of practices that spread across Europe like a wave, starting especially in the 1840s in the context of cultural nationalism. These practices will be studied on the basis of the expanded concept of canonization (in addition to textual practices such as critical edition, exegesis, appropriation, and indoctrination, the concept will also include ritual practices, the use of relics, monumental networks, the role of the educational apparatus, etc.) and treated in the context of the establishment of new imagined communities and their (collective) cultural memory. In this way, the project seeks to reappraise the role of continuous veneration of chosen representatives in the process of forming European nations—especially smaller ones, where the emphasis on literature and language was even greater. At the same time, the project will demonstrate that the effectiveness of this formation is more easily explained if one takes in account the elements that bring national movements into the vicinity of religious practices. Through an interdisciplinary and international combination of literary studies with other disciplines, the project will make a permanent contribution to a better understanding of the underlying structures that still define the relationships and tensions between modern societies in Europe. The primary goals of the project include refinement of the prevailing concepts in the relevant field of literary studies (national poets, cultural saints, the canon and canonization, commemorative cults, etc.) and subsequent construction of a basic model of the study of canonization in the broader cultural context. This theoretical and methodological framework will be critically tested by a number of diverse case studies. The main focus will be on the canonization of national poets, with case studies spanning from Russia (Alexander Pushkin) to Portugal (Luís de Camões) and from Greece (Dionysios Solomos) to Iceland (Jónas Hallgrímsson). This broad European panorama will also be presented in the form of a bilingual (English and Slovenian) website devoted to National Poets and Cultural Saints of Europe, which will be designed and updated in cooperation with research institutions from across Europe as a lasting platform for comparative studies and scholarly exchange. A number of articles and book chapters will be devoted to individual examples from “small nations”; for instance, to the Czech national poet Karel H. Mácha, the Bulgarian national poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev, and the Montenegrin national poet and clerical and secular ruler Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. To offer a comparative contrast, individual studies will deal with some of the most prominent figures of “major literatures” that were crucial for the dissemination of models of commemorative cults throughout Europe (William Shakespeare, Friedrich Schiller, etc.), and several cases of other artists that were the subject of veneration in the context of cultural nationalism. Special attention will be given to the canonization of the Slovenian poet France Prešeren, which represents a complex case even in the broader European context.
Significance for science
In the strict scholarly sense, the relevance of this project lies first and foremost in the fact that it successfully interrelated the findings and expertise of otherwise quite disparate areas of the humanities. In this way, an entirely new perspective was opened up on the vast and complex set of historical phenomena related to canonization and commemorative cults of European writers and other intellectuals. These processes have helped shape European cultural and political history in many significant ways, particularly in the period of the rise of national movements and the establishment of nation-states. By studying these phenomena, the project has offered original answers to a number of questions that partial and particularistic approaches have been struggling with. Whereas these approaches mainly focus on politico-historical and textual parameters, the project broadened the object of study in order to encompass those symbolic practices that escape traditional notions of history and text. Furthermore, the relevance of the project is also reflected in the fact that the results of its original theoretical reflection (introducing renewed concepts such as those of the cultural saint and canonization) are becoming increasingly visible in national as well as international scholarly exchange. From a broader perspective, another point can be added. As testified by recent identity tensions in Catalonia, Belgium, the Basque Country, Scotland, Ukraine, and elsewhere, research on national movements retains a high degree of relevance for the management of complex relationships in Europe. In the past decades, there has been a noticeable increase in international comparative studies that justifiably shift the focus of scholarly attention towards nineteenth-century cultural and literary processes (e. g., the research conducted by such associations as SPIN and NISE). These studies mainly emphasize the modern secular dimensions of cultural nationalism (such as language policies, cultural planning, folklore and historical collections, the rise of national institutions, or media infrastructure). The project managed to supplement this comparative approach in an innovative way by studying practices that bring nationalism closer to the religious sphere. Through systematic comparative study of national poets and cultural saints as vital segments of European cultural nationalism, which demanded intense interdisciplinary cooperation of literary studies with cultural history, art history, anthropology, geography, and memory studies, this project has offered new insight into the structures that continue to underlie the relationships and tensions across Europe.
Significance for the country
Although the project was conducted as a comparative and international investigation, its basic dilemmas have arisen from issues related to the fundamental premises of Slovenian self-understanding, that is, the national identity that ever since the mid-nineteenth century has been fundamentally linked to the Slovenian national poet France Prešeren, poetry, and the firmly rooted belief that literature and culture are the exclusive means of Slovenian national emancipation. In this sense, a major achievement of the project is the reconceptualization and European contextualization of the canonization of France Prešeren and other major figures of Slovenian culture. The central result of this reconceptualization and contextualization, as the project demonstrated (in particular in Dović’s book Prešeren po Prešernu, the fourth and most extensive part of the collective monograph Kulturni svetniki in kanonizacija, and the fourth chapter of Dović and Helgason’s book National Poets, Cultural Saints), lies in its argument for a critical rethinking of the stereotypical self-understanding patterns in the general Slovenian public discourse, especially the obstinate ideas about “Slovenian cultural syndrome” and “the Prešeren structure.” By participating in, and even co-establishing, an international scholarly network, the project was able to introduce its findings about Slovenian literature and culture in the international, especially European scholarly community, which as a result will now be able to refer to studies of Slovenian culture that are available in English and published in leading international research journals and by major academic publishing houses. This will help Slovenian scholars and their international colleagues to plan and conduct internationally relevant investigations into Slovenian literary and general culture at a level that so far was simply unattainable. An important aspect of the social significance of the project in Slovenia is also the successful international implementation of project results, which contributes to the international visibility of the project leader, the members of the Slovenian research team, as well as national research institutions (in particular ZRC SAZU). Finally, and closely related to this international implementation of project results, the project’s social relevance lies also in its successful integration of junior researchers (esp. Urška Perenič, Monika Deželak Trojar, and Andraž Jež) into the Slovenian but also the international research community. In this way, Slovenian society is enriched with scholars who already at the outset of their research careers are able to discuss issues of Slovenian culture in an international context and on the global scene.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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