Literature and Cultural Nationalism in Europe

This course is part of the programme
Doctoral study programme Humanities

Objectives and competences

The main objective of the course is to qualify the students for independent comparative research of the relations between literature and cultural nationalism. The students will study the fundamental literature on the subject (cf. Readings) and current international projects and databases (cf. Methods). Through their seminar work, the students will be able to test their independent use of an appropriate methodology.


Fluency in English and in at least one more foreign language.


The course will present basic theoretical concepts and methodological tools for exploring the relationships between the emerging national literatures, cultural nationalisms, and wider (political) national movements. It will focus on the period from the end of the 18th century to the mid 20th century, when cultural nationalism was spreading through Europe as an epidemical wave. Very often, national movements championed the central role of language in literature. From this perspective, examples from the lands of the present-day Iceland to Greece and from Portugal to the Baltic countries and Finland will be examined. Research topics will include 1) trends, such as an interest in language, folk music, writing patriotic poetry, editions of older texts, historiography and literary history, interest in antiquities and historical sites, nationalist transformation in education, revival (or invention) of national costumes, writing “national” music, historical fiction and other nationalist writing, commemorations and festivals, visual art, architecture, oral literature, theories of ethnic specificity and reviving of the customs and mythology. These trends will be put in 2) institutional context (and political frameworks; for example multinational political formations): eg. separatist societies, historical societies, sports associations, universities, libraries, museums, linguistic associations, publishers, choral societies, literary societies, reading rooms, book clubs and theatrical clubs. From the viewpoint of literature, special focus will be placed on researching the veneration of 3) cultural saints (especially national poets) who have contributed decisively to the mobilization of the masses in the national movements.

Intended learning outcomes

The desirable as well as the key result of the study project is to deepen one's knowledge and understanding of the historical and the present moment in Europe. Processes, which will be the subject of study research, have fundamentally characterized the "Europe of nations" as we know it today; the exploration of cultural nationalism and its history is therefore unavoidable if we are to understand the 20th-century Europe, as well as cultural and political conditions of the modern world.


  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (Second edition). London: Verso, 2006. Catalogue E-version
  • Dović, Marijan. “Early Literary Representations of National History and the ‘Slovene Cultural Syndrome'” Primerjalna književnost 30 (2007), special issue: 191–207. slv E-version eng E-version
  • Dović, Marijan. “The Network of Memorials of Slovene Literary Culture as Semiotic Appropriation of (National) Space.” Slavistična revija 62.3 (2012a): 351–364. slv E-version eng E-version
  • Even-Zohar, Itamar. “The Role of Literature in the Making of the Nations of Europe.” Applied Semiotics/Sémiotique appliguée 1.1 (1996): 39–59. E-version
  • Gellner, Ernest. Nations and nationalisms, New perspectives on the past. Oxford: Blackwell, 1983. E-version
  • Helgason, Jón Karl. “The Role of Cultural Saints in European Nation States.” Sela-Sheffy, Rakefet, and Gideon Toury, eds. Culture Contacts and the Making of Cultures. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2011. 245-254. E-version
  • Hobsbawm, Eric J. Nations and nationalism since 1780: Programme, myth, reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Catalogue E-version
  • Hroch, Miroslav. “From National Movement to the Fully-formed Nation. The Nation Building Process in Europe.” New Left Review I/198 (1993): 3-20.
  • Juvan, Marko. “Literary self-referentiality and the formation of the national literary canon: the topoi of Parnassus and Elysium in the Slovene poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries.” Neohelicon 31.1 (2004): 113–123. E-version
  • Leerssen, Joep. “Nationalism and the cultivation of culture.” Nations and Nationalism 12.4 (2006): 559–578.
  • Neubauer, John. “Figures of National Poets. Introduction.” History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe. Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. (Vol. 4.) Ed. by Marcel Cornis-Pope and John Neubauer. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. 11–18.
  • Quinault, Roland. “The Cult of the Centenary, c. 1784–1914.” Historical Research 71.176 (1998): 303-323.


Seminar assignment with oral presentation and discussion (30%). Written exam (70%).

Lecturer's references

Marijan Dović, Research Fellow at the Institute of the Slovenian Literature and Literary Studies SRC SASA, Ljubljana, and Associate Professor at the University of Nova Gorica, has been concerned with the fields of the literary canon, the contemporary systems theory of literature, the historical avant-garde, Romanticism and national poets, and theory and history of authorship. His scientific work includes the publication of numerous papers (Slovenian and English) and three scientific monographs. As a member of IGEL, EAM and ICLA and a vice-president of the Slovene Comparative Literature Association (SiCLA), he has organized several scholarly meetings, including a conference on Slovene historical avant-garde and comparative literature colloquiums on literature and censorship, and on literature and literary mediation. Professor Dović has edited several scholarly anthologies (on Anton Podbevšek, Janez Trdina, and Literature and Censorship).

Selected bibliography:

DOVIĆ, Marijan. Sistemske in empirične obravnave literature, (Studia litteraria). Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2004. 238 pp., graphics. ISBN 961-6500-57-0. [COBISS.SI-ID 216565248]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. Slovenski pisatelj : razvoj vloge literarnega proizvajalca v slovenskem literarnem sistemu, (Studia litteraria). Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2007. 338 pp. ISBN 978-961-254-028-9. [COBISS.SI-ID 235594752]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. Mož z bombami : Anton Podbevšek in slovenska zgodovinska avantgarda, (Zbirka Anagoga). Ljubljana [i. e.] Novo mesto: Goga, 2009. 104 pp., illustr. ISBN 978-961-6421-87-4. [COBISS.SI-ID 249519872]
PODBEVŠEK, Anton, DOVIĆ, Marijan. Zbrane pesmi : elektronska znanstvenokritična izdaja. 2., dopolnjena in razširjena izd. Ljubljana: Inštitut za slovensko literaturo in literarne vede ZRC SAZU, 2010. ISBN 978-961-254-191-0. [COBISS.SI-ID 31341357]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. Zgodnje literarne reprezentacije nacionalne zgodovine in "slovenski kulturni sindrom" = Early literary representations of national history and the "Slovene cultural syndrome". In: MATAJC, Vanesa (ed.), TROHA, Gašper (ed.). Zgodovina in njeni literarni žanri, (Primerjalna književnost, vol. 30, posebna št./special issue). Ljubljana: Slovensko društvo za primerjalno književnost, Aug. 2007, pp. 71–90, 191–207. [COBISS.SI-ID 6000158]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. Totalitarna in post-totalitarna cenzura: od trde k mehki? = Totalitarian and post-totalitarian censorship: from hard to soft?. In: DOVIĆ, Marijan (ed.). Literatura in cenzura : Kdo se boji resnice literature? : Who is afraid of the truth of literature?, (Primerjalna književnost, vol. 31, posebna št./special issue). Ljubljana: Slovensko društvo za primerjalno književnost, Aug. 2008, pp. 9–20 + 167–178. [COBISS.SI-ID 37376866]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. The Slovenian interwar literary avant-garde and its canonization. In: BRU, Sascha (ed.). Europa! Europa? : the avant-garde, modernism, and the fate of a continent, (European avant-garde and modernism studies, vol. 1). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009, pp. [36]–48. [COBISS.SI-ID 30907181]
DOVIĆ, Marijan. France Prešeren: a conquest of the Slovene Parnassus. In: CORNIS-POPE, Marcel (ed.), NEUBAUER, John (ed.). History of the literary cultures of East-Central Europe : junctures and disjunctures in the 19th and 20th centuries, (A comparative history of literatures in European languages, Literary cultures, vol. 19, 20, 22, 25, vols. 1–4). Amsterdam; Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 2004–2010, 2010, vol. IV, pp. 97–109. [COBISS.SI-ID 32124717]

2008: Srebrni znak ZRC SAZU / Silver Decoration, ZRC SAZU
2008: Trdinova nagrada (Mestna občina Novo mesto) / Trdina Award (City Municipality of Novo mesto)