Other projects of Romanian comparatists

In recent decades, the acceleration of globalization, the growing importance of the role of some super-state organisms, the expansion of multinational corporations, migration growth, and the development of new means of communication have led to a reconsideration of the concept of nation.  The working hypothesis of the TRANSHIROL project – and one of its ground-breaking elements – is that a “national” literature should not be primarily regarded as a system, but rather as a network defined by the transnational communities into which it is integrated.

The project is among the winners of the latest “Consolidator” Grant competition and thus has been awarded funding by the The European Research Council. 

Andrei Terian-Dan and his team set out to chart the five-century-long history of Romanian literature and the progressive global growth of its network. The resultant transnational history of Romanian literature strives to ultimately become a history of world literature written from a Romanian perspective.

The project will bring together not only a set of state-of-the-art guidelines in literary studies and in the wider field of the theory of culture, but also a series of interdisciplinary aspects ranging from sociology and imagology to digital and quantitative studies. An expert in Romanian Literature, during his career to date Professor Terian-Dan has been a visiting researcher in the UK, Spain and Slovenia, and is now based at his alma mater, the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu.

A Transnational History
of Romanian Literature

“Tudor Vianu” Interdisciplinary Centre for European and Romanian Cultural Studies

The “Tudor Vianu” Interdisciplinary Centre for European and Romanian Cultural Studies (www.ciscer.ro) was founded in May 2006 on Prof. Mircea Martin’s initiative, supported by the Chairs of Literary Theory, Comparative Literature, and Romanian Literature in the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest. Its main objective is to enhance collaborative research of the specialists in humanities. The Centre is led by a scientific board directed by Prof. Martin. The Centre’s scientific secretary is Prof. Oana Fotache Dubălaru.

Over the years, the “Tudor Vianu” Research Centre has organized several international conferences:

Legitimating Cultures, Cultures of Legitimacy, 23-25 November 2006, keynote speaker: Prof. Wolfgang Iser (Germany/USA), attended by 58 academics from 19 Romanian and foreign universities (University of North Carolina, Nottingham Trent University, Temple University, etc.);

– The Idea of Presence. Myths and Religions of Presences. Metaphysics of Presence. Presence in Literature, the Arts, and the Human Sciences, 30 November – 1 December 2007, keynote speakers: Prof. J. Hillis Miller (USA), Prof. Michel Deguy (France), with 61 participants from 28 universities (Université de Lille 3, Copenhagen University, Université de Lausanne, etc.);

National Literatures in the Age of Globalization. The Issue of the Canon, 31 October – 1 November 2008, keynote speakers: Prof. David Damrosch (USA), Prof. Theo D’Haen (Belgium), attended by 85 participants from 51 universities (Shiraz University, University College London, University of Padova etc.);

Canon(s) and Value(s), 21-22 November 2008, keynote speaker: Prof. Georges Vigarello (France), etc.

The Centre initiated a series of meetings and debates, “The Workshops of the Tudor Vianu Centre”. The monthly meetings on topics from diverse fields such as literary and cultural theory, cultural studies, comparative literature, Romanian literature, cultural anthropology, history of ideas and mentalities, offered an opportunity for discussions between the Centre’s members (professors, researchers, postgraduate students). Some workshops were dedicated to the cultural events which are part of the Centre’s sphere of interest, while others discussed important recent publications or presented forthcoming research projects. Leading Romanian and foreign specialists were invited to some of these workshops, for instance: Prof. Helena Buescu, University of Lisbon (Sebald: Migration and Humanity); Prof. Efraín Kristal, UCLA (Borges and the Two World Wars); Prof. Laurent Jenny, University of Geneva (Révolution: histoire d’une métaphore de la littérature (1830-1975); Prof. Jan Gorak, University of Denver – Travel as Art and Travel as Act in the Troubled Twentieth Century; Prof. Jaap Lintvelt, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (L’espace identitaire de la ville de Québec dans le roman: identité sociale, identité culturelle, identité sexuée); Dr. Cornel Ban, Brown University (Rethinking Nationalism. Between Eurocentrism and Provincialism); Prof. Călin Andrei Mihăilescu, University of Western Ontario (On Language Traps. The radicalism of language philosophy between Nietzsche and tomorrow; Emergent Literatures in the Age of the Eclipse of Writing); Prof. Gisèle Vanhese, Università degli studi di Calabria (La transposition intersémiotique dans Les Orientales de Victor Hugo); Prof. Christian Moraru, University of North Carolina (Theory and Politics); Prof. Ileana Orlich, Arizona State University (Henry James’s Daisy Miller: A Literary Display of Decadent Mini-Tableaux); Prof. Michael Finkenthal, Johns Hopkins University (Lev Shestov).

A selection of papers presented at the Centre’s conferences and workshops was published in the volume Explorări în trecutul și în prezentul teoriei literare românești (coord. by Mircea Martin, Art Publishing, 2006) and in several issues of the journal Euresis. Cahiers roumains d’études littéraires et culturelles.

An important section of the Centre’s activity is the series of seminars for students which brought forward recent themes in the international cultural debate, through the analysis of major theoretical texts: Cultural Imperialism and Postcolonialism, How is Literary History (Still) Possible?,  Literary Constraints, On Theory and Other Demons, Reinventing Research Methods when Discussing Classical Literature, What is “European Literature”?, etc.

Between 2017-2019, the Centre and the Institute for Research in the Humanities (University of Bucharest) organized the workshop series “Tudor Vianu” – ICUB Master Classes. This project targeted PhD students in Literature and Cultural Studies, as well as MA students in Literary Studies at the Faculty of Letters. These workshops have facilitated postgraduate students’ research training through lectures held by prestigious academics from Romania and abroad. Among the invited speakers were Prof. Adriana Babeți (West University of Timișoara), Prof. Lăcrămioara Petrescu (University „Al. I. Cuza”, Iași), Prof. Thomas Pavel (University of Chicago), Prof. Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu (University of Western Ontario, Canada), Prof. Ortwin de Graef (University of Leuven), Prof. Galin Tihanov (Queen Mary University of London), Prof. Stephen Henighan (University of Guelph, Canada), Prof. Stefan Helgesson (Stockholm University).

Among the Centre’s projects that contributed significantly to its development were the following national/international grants:

  • 2015-2016: “‘The East’ in the Eastern Imagination: Towards developing interdisciplinary approaches for understanding the Eastern Self”, Texas A&M University at Qatar Proof of Concept Grant.
  • 2011-2016: Migration and Reshaping Identities in Romanian Travel Writings, 1960-2010 (MARIS), CNCS, programme Ideas-PCE.
  • 2010-2012: University and School for a European Literary Canon (EliCa), EU programme Culture, project coordinated by „La Sapienza” University, Rome, Italy.
  • 2007-2010: Romanian Literature within Contemporary Western Culture. Literary Vales as Vehicle for a Cultural Brand (LIRCO), programme PNCDI 2 – Partnerships.
  • 2007-2008 : Frontier Identity in Europe lărgită. Comparative perspectives, grant CNCSIS tip A.
  • 2007-2008 : The Market of theoretical ideas on literature in contemporary Europe. The place of Romanian literary theory, grant “IDEI”, University of Bucharest.

The Centre hosts a research library for the use of MA and PhD students, researchers and academics, funded through grants and donations.

The Foundation started as a research group focused on Central-European literatures and comprised of professors and graduates associated with the Faculty of Letters within The West University of Timișoara (1997-1998): Adriana Babeţi, Mircea Mihăieş, Cornel Ungureanu, Daciana Branea, Dorian Branea, Gabriel Kohn, Marius Lazurca, Tinu Pârvulescu, Sorin Tomuţa.

In order to ensure an efficient interdisciplinarity, both the study domains and the scientific team broadened and expanded in 1998. 

Thus, the literary studies centered around the project of the Romanian Dictionary of the Central-European 20th Century Novel benefited from the technical and research support of historians (coordinated by Valeriu Leu), anthropologists (coordinated by Smaranda Vultur) and Sociopolitical Studies specialists (coordinated by Gabriela Colțescu).

In 1999, an ONG-like institutional network was formed, The Third Europe, comprising, between 1999 and 2005, a research unit (The Central and Southeastern-European Comparative Studies Center), an educational unit (Timișoara Open College), an Observatory for Regional and Euro-regional Politics and an informative unit (library, archive, electronic data base).

The Foundation’s scientific committee included several international academic personalities (Sorin Antohi, Timothy Garton Ash, Daniel Chirot, Livius Ciocârlie, Andrei Corbea, Paul Cornea, Slavenka Drakulić, Irena Grudzinska, Miklós Haraszti, Pierre Hassner, Ken Jowitt, Tony Judt, Gail Kligman, Konrád György, Jacques Le Rider, Mircea Martin, Adam Michnik, Vladimir Tismăneanu, Ivan Vejvoda, Catherine Verdery). The Foundation Board was comprised of Adriana Babeţi (director), Cornel Ungureanu (preşident), Mircea Mihăieş, Dorian Branea, Gabriel Kohn, Marius Lazurca (members).

Between the 24 and the 26 of October 1997, the founding members organized in Timișoara a National Colloquium titled ”A Rediscovered Conjuction: The Idylic and the Grotesque in Central European Fiction”, which brought together an impressive number of Romanian and foreign comparatists, historians and literary theorists.

On that occasion, the Romanian Association of Comparative Literature was founded, and Paul Cornea was elected its president.

During this time, more than 60 books were published (most of them at Polirom or Univers publishing houses), among which 30 were translations from  fundamental works of important writers, historians or political scientists. 20 of the works  were published under the Foundation’s  name (three anthologies, totaling 1500 pages, a Timeline of Central Europe, two series – Seminar and Caiete -, 11 oral history publications, five issues of The Third Europe magazine, totaling more than 1000 pages, a digital 20th Century Central-European Culture Encyclopedia  and The 20th Century Central-European Novel Dictionary, in the process of being published at Polirom). The Dictionary, coordinated by Adrian Babeți includes 197 Central-European authors. 

”Third Europe” Foundation

Phantasma - The Center for Imagination Studies

Phantasma – The Center for Imagination Studies was created on April 16, 2002, at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babes-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

It has been included in the international network CRI2i (Centre de recherches internationales sur l’Imaginaire), which encompasses over 30 research centers throughout the world, from France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Poland, Canada, Mexicc, Brasil, Argentina, Tunis, Marocco, Japon, Koreea, Taiwan. In 2008 și 2020 Phantasma organized in Cluj the 1st and the 4th Congresses of the CRI2i.

Research domain:

Phantasma – The Center for Imagination Studies is a laboratory for studying the social and cultural imaginaries. Its creation starts from the premise that the majority of academic disciplines deals only with our rationalistic and positive ego, but completely ignore our unconscious personality. In order to explore the individual and collective subconscious life, the Center intends to deploy several up-to-date methodologies and approaches (active and participative research, focus groups etc.). Its activity will be very innovative, at least in the Romanian and Eastern European academic tradition, and very profitable for Transylvania and this part of South-Central Europe.


1 The deconstruction of the social-political ”mythologies”

The analysis of the imaginary is a powerful deconstruction device of the ideological, political and social stereotypes and clichés. Aware of the development of today’s world into a “global village”, and starting from the assumption that media images are not perceptive, direct, but “imaginative”, processed, transformed, we intend to analyze images as they are engendered by the written press, by the advertising and movie industries, by cable and satellite television, the internet, etc. Research into the imaginary is essential to understanding the way images affect social groups and collective mentalities, especially in an age when the unprecedented expansion of the visual culture gives vent to a series of subliminal – ideological and political – manipulations of the public.  

2 The reconstruction of the post-postmodern subject.

The practice of the fantasy enables postmodern man to cope with the increasing celerity (Wlad Godzich) of contemporary life. Dangerously exposed to politropy and polychrony, i.d. to the schizophrenic necessity of being aware or even being present to diverse actions that occur in different places simultaneously, postmodern man has to find a way to develop a new and very demanding identity. But traditional logos and rationality offers only the model of an integrated homogenous subject. The reconstruction of a polymorphous and disintegrate subject should use the psychological techniques of the imaginary in order to unite and to keep together the divergent tendencies postmodern man has to deal with.

Imagination studies have developed an entire range of extremely efficient analytical methods and instruments (psychocriticism, myth criticism, archetypology, imagology), which contribute to constructing a hermeneutics of the cultural imaginary from an intrinsic perspective. This approach focuses on the genuine substance of images, symbols, and myths, conceived as well-defined psychic functions. Our long-term project is to combine these methods with active and focus-group research, in order to identify the noumina that generate constellations of artistic images.


ROMIMAG. The Encyclopedia of Romanian Imaginaries, vol. 1-5. (2018-2021)

Antiutopias. Making and Unmaking the Reality – Assessing Possible Worlds (2011-2016)

Echinox Journal