Department of British and American Studies
History and Present
The Department of British and American Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava is the first and oldest of its kind in Slovakia.
The beginnings of English Studies here reach back to 1923. They were established and developed by eminent Czech and Slovak Anglicists. The foundations of English Studies were laid above all by Prof. PhDr. Josef Baudiš (1924–1932), Prof. PhDr. Otakar Vočadlo (1933-1938), Prof. PhDr. František Kalda (1939–1945), Prof. PhDr. Ján Šimko, PhD. (1950–1968), Prof. PhDr. Lev Soudek (1955-1970), Prof. PhDr. Jozef Olexa, PhD. (1969-1998), Prof. PhDr. Josef Vachek, DrSc. (1973-1976) and the foundations of Translation Studies were established by Assoc. Prof. PhDr. Ján Vilikovský, PhD. (1974-1990, 2006-2013). The Department of British and American Studies itself was founded in 1966, following its separation from the Department of Germanic Studies. In the course of its history, over sixty university teachers and dozens of English language lecturers from abroad have worked at the Department.
In over four generations the Department has already prepared many thousands of graduates and more than a hundred postgraduate doctoral students. Many of them have founded further English Studies centres, where they work as teachers. Graduates from the Department have made careers as English language teachers in this country and abroad, as translators of literary, scientific and technical texts, and as interpreters, recently also in top EU institutions, or as research and media workers, in the diplomatic service, as well as in various other professional posts.
At present the academic staff at the Department is comprised of renowned and experienced associate professors and senior lecturers, as well as a number of young, ambitious teachers. They include leading Anglicists, research and cultural workers, authors of scholarly and literary works, translators and interpreters, certified translators of legal documents, members of Slovak and international academic and scholarly associations, editorial boards, committees of experts or members and examiners of the Institute of Certified Legal Translation and Interpreting at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University.
In the area of research the Department focuses mainly on synchronic, diachronic and contrastive linguistics, on literary science, translatology and cultural studies, on research in the field of the didactics and methodology of teaching English, and it is the first in Slovakia to deal with Canadian Studies.
Within the different disciplines particular attention is given to the following fields of research and specialisation:
- Linguistics: contrastive Anglophone and Slovak phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax; contrastive word formation from the synchronic and diachronic points of view; historical semantics from the intralingual and interlingual standpoints; linguo-cultural aspects of the language system and of communication pragmatics; the neologisation of English and Slovak lexis in their cross-linguistic contexts; loan words taken from English and their socio-cultural contexts; specific features of legal language; and over a long period also English-Slovak lexicography.
- Literature: Shakespearean drama; the 18th century realistic novel; 19th century English prose and drama (the works of J. Austen, O. Wilde); the regional novel (G. Eliot, T. Hardy); the detective genre; contemporary American drama; contemporary ethnic literature; Canadian literature and culture; the reception of Anglophone literature; the intersection of theatre and politics;
- Translation Studies and Interpreting: equivalence in the translation of literature in prose and poetry (hypnosis by the original); the particularities of the translation of audiovisual texts; the equivalentation of specialized legal texts and legal terminology; the question of the practical application of language skills in the milieu of EU institutions;
- Cultural Studies: imagology and the study of identity;
- Didactics: contemporary trends in the preparation of teachers of English focused on the development of their digital and communication competence; improving the effectiveness of methods in the teaching of spoken and written English; the use of role play tasks in the teaching of languages; the relationship between language and culture.
The teachers at the Department have published numerous scholarly monographs, textbooks and hundreds of papers in Slovakia and abroad, and they present their research at conferences and in conference proceedings. In 1987 the Department organized the first Slovak English Studies conference and for two decades has been organizing a triennial conference of English Studies. The Department cooperates with partner institutions at home and abroad, with the Slovak Academy of Sciences, EU institutions, the British Council, publishing houses and various other cultural and social organisations. Mainly under the Erasmus+ programme and CEEPUS, but also other bilateral agreements, its teachers have the opportunity to work and its students to study at a number of foreign partner universities, and the range of contacts is being continuously extended. In the course of its existence the Department has been visited by many distinguished people in the field of Anglophone philology and culture.
The Department of British and American Studies is a foremost Slovak academic and pedagogical institution which provides philological education for future teachers, translators and interpreters, and – especially within doctoral studies – also for research workers and other specialists. Currently hundreds of students from Slovakia are studying under the Bachelor and Master’s programmes and several under the doctoral programmes. The Department also has students from other countries.
Within these three levels of study the Department offers at present the following Programmes (accredited as of the Academic Year 2015/16):
Bachelor’s Full-Time Programme
English Language and Culture in the specialisation of Translating and Interpreting
English Language and Literature in the specialisation of Teaching Academic Subjects
Master’s Full-Time Programme
English Language and Culture in the specialisation of Translating and Interpreting
English Language and Literature in the specialisation of Teaching of Academic Subject
Doctoral Degree Programme (Full-Time and External)
The core of these Programmes consists of the studies of the linguistics, literature, history and culture of Anglophone regions – apart from the United Kingdom and the USA, also Canada, Australia and New Zealand; translation and interpreting studies, as well as the didactics of English. In addition to theoretical academic subjects, including numerous optional ones, the Department also offers a wide range of courses aimed at developing the different language skills. Teaching is conducted in English, with the exception of some translatological courses.
Lecture rooms and classrooms are equipped with up-to-date technology. Simultaneous interpreting is taught in a fully-equipped interpreting laboratory. The Department has an extensive library that supplements the services of Comenius University’s Academic Library.
In the course of their studies students of teaching have teaching practice at secondary schools. Students of translation and interpreting have opportunities to gain experience in translation institutions and even take advantage of a short stay in the translation institutions of the EU. Our students traditionally participate in Academic Student Conferences and Translation Olympiads. For the students, but for the wider public as well, the Department, in cooperation with the Slovak Association of Translators and Interpreters, organizes St Jerome’s Days. The Department has Erasmus+ contracts with several universities under which the students of any of the Programmes can get scholarships for one term of studying abroad.
Our curriculum includes free access to the Phrase platform through the Phrase Academic Edition. The curriculum also includes a practice of the Wordfast Translation Studio suite of tools, courtesy of Wordfast LLC and Yves Champollion.
The Department is also an academic member of the international Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) that brings together scholars and experts in non-literary translation, machine translation, post-editing and localization.
For several years now there has been a student theatre company ActofKAA at the Department. Apart from other plays, its repertoire has included a Shakespeare play that was performed with great success in Bratislava’s Municipal Theatre. Students also have an opportunity to use their literary and artistic talent in the Department’s student journal Perspectives, which already has a successful tradition of several years.