Department of Romance Studies

Department of Romance Studies

History of the Department

The Department of Romance Studies in its current form has been in existence since 1991. However, its beginnings date back to the first years after the foundation of Comenius University when courses in Romance languages were gradually introduced. As of 1923 the Faculty of Arts had its School of Romance Studies, but, according to some sources, the French language was already taught at the faculty in 1921, and a year later there was an opening for a lector in the Romanian language. In 1941 the School of the Italian Language was established although the first courses in Italian were offered in 1929. Likewise, the faculty had its Spanish language lector as early as 1936, yet Spanish as an academic discipline was not formally constituted until 1954. Portuguese got the status of an academic discipline in the 1981/1982 academic year. However, as an optional course it was already offered in the mid-1960s. Romance languages were not grouped under the same heading until 1957 when they were merged with archaeology to form the Department of Romance Philology and Classical Archaeology. In the 1962/1963 academic year, the Department of Classical, Romance and Semitic Philology was founded, yet in the following year the Department of Modern Romance Philology was separated from it and in 1964/1965 it was renamed as the Department of Romance Philology. In 1969/1970 the department broke up into the Department of French Language and Literature and the Department of Romanian, Spanish and Italian Philology. In 1976/1977 the Department of Romance, Classical and Semitic Philology came into being, but in 1991/1992 the Department of Romance Studies separated from it again. The study programmes in Romance languages have developed relatively independently at the Faculty of Arts. Their histories constitute the history of Romance studies.


French is one of the oldest study programmes at the faculty. It started to be taught in 1923/1924 by L. Chollet, a French lector, who was later succeeded by Prof. V. Buben, Assoc. Prof. J. Kopal from Charles University in Prague and Prof. P. M. Haškovec from Masaryk University in Brno. Later, especially during the Second World War, courses in French were taught by lectors from France. This situation lasted until the 1960s when the faculty hired Slovak teachers: Dr. V. Cígerová, Dr. G. Podolcová, V. Forgáchová, Dr. Š. Pichňa and later Assoc. Prof. J. Félix and Prof. Š. Povchanič. In the first half of the 1970s there was an independent French department. In the 1970s it recruited a new generation of instructors: Assoc. Prof. Š. Caltík, Assoc. Prof. J. Bartoš, Assoc. Prof. J. Taraba and Dr. K. Kapitáňová. It was in this period that a French translation and interpreting programme was launched. However, the department did not discontinue the teaching programme either. The French language, literature and culture have always been included among the core subjects within Romance studies.


Portuguese is the youngest language discipline at the department. It was introduced as a translation and interpreting programme in the 1981/1982 academic year. The first instructor to provide courses in Portuguese was Dr. M. Lenghardt. In 1987 he was succeeded by Dr. M. Petrovská. The instruction in Portuguese was renewed in 2004 thanks to teachers from the University of Vienna, Prof. M. Metzeltin and Assoc. Prof. K. Sartingen.


Like French, Romanian was one of the first subjects introduced after the Faculty of Arts was chartered. In fact, it was the first Romance language to be taught at the faculty. It was introduced on 19 January 1922 through a lecture by J. Hušková-Flajšhansová, a Romanian language lector from Prague, titled Romanians, Their Cultural Past and Present with Particular Regard to Their Relations with Slavs. Prof. J. Hušková-Flajšhansová worked at the faculty until 1971, first in the capacity of a language lector and later in the capacity of an associate professor and a professor without chair. In 1953/1954 Romanian started to be taught as a double major teaching programme in combination with other languages and disciplines. In 1968-1980 Elena Žitná-Čunderlíková worked at the department as an assistant professor in Romanian. Romanian was also taught as an optional language with focus on culture and history. As of 1979/1980, Romanian instruction centred on translation and interpreting. After Dr. J. Kerďo joined the faculty in 1980, he introduced Romanian linguistics. Assoc. Prof. J. Kerďo became the head of the section and a guarantor of the academic standards of the Master's programme in Romanian. In 1985 the Romanian Section recruited Dr. Jana Páleníková, who specializes in literary, translation and practical language subjects. After 1989 the faculty also offered a philological study programme in Romanian.


Hispanic studies were taught at the faculty first within a lectorate in the Spanish language. In 1936-1939 the faculty employed Francisco X. Farina Alonso, a language lector from Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno. In the 1948/1949 academic year, the position was held by Ms. Blahová-Terrierová. In 1954/1955 Spanish started to be studied as a double major programme in combination with other languages. The section recruited Slovak teachers - Prof. V. Oleríny and Prof. J. Škultéty. In the 1960s a new generation of Spanish instructors joined the faculty - Dr. M. Lenghardt, Assoc. Prof. N. Noskovičová, Dr. M. E. Andrašíková, M. Gúčik, and Assoc. Prof. J. Šulhan. In this period the department hired two language lectors from Spain, Y. Moretić and V. Vidal de Moretić, who contributed to the development of Spanish as an academic discipline. In 1971 Prof. L. Trup joined the faculty. The study programme in Spanish, together with French, was offered on a yearly basis.


Italian was first taught at the faculty by the contracted professor A. Cronia from Masaryk University in Brno in 1929. In 1935-1937 the faculty enjoyed the presence of B. Tecchi, a well-known Italian writer, who commuted to Bratislava from the same university and held the post of a contracted substitute professor. In 1938 the faculty recruited Dr. L. Pacini to teach Italian. Later, in 1940, he was appointed Contracted Professor without Chair in the Italian Language and Literature. Instructors from Italy worked at the Faculty of Arts until 1950. Instruction in Italian was resumed in the academic year of 1957/1958, although some sources say that Dr. M. Pažítka was hired as an assistant professor in Italian in 1954. It was only in 1967/1968 that the faculty gave a green light to teachers from Italy again. Italian has always been studied in combination with other languages and has mostly been opened every other year. Since 1997/1998 the department has been admitting students to the Italian programme every year. Until 2009, it was academically guaranteed by Assoc. Prof. F. Hruška. In the 1970s a translation and interpreting programme in Italian was introduced, besides the teaching and philological programmes. Since then, translation has come to dominate the instruction in Italian at the faculty.