Excellent Teams

In May 2015 the Accreditation Commission of the Slovak Republic, which is the main body to evaluate the quality of education and research at the public and private universities in Slovakia, announced the outcomes of the evaluation of the excellent research teams working at the universities in Slovakia. The Faculty of Arts is the home institution of four excellent research teams which work in the fields of philosophy and logic, linguistics, literary studies, and history. And it has to be noted, that the only excellent research teams within the social sciences and humanities in Slovak universities have been identified at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava.

“Philosophy, Logic, Methodology: Challenges of the 21s Century”

This research team is composed of members of the Department of Philosophy and History of Philosophy, as well as the Department of Logic and the Methodology of Sciences, namely Assoc. Prof. Mariana Szapuová, Ph.D., Prof. František Gahér, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Michal Chabada, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Igor Hanzel, Ph.D., and Igor Sedlár, Ph.D.

The traditional conception of science, deeply rooted in Western philosophical thought, is facing various challenges arising from new theoretical initiatives as well as from the increasing role of science in society. In this context, the need for reconsidering knowledge and science from the philosophical, methodological and logical viewpoints becomes extremely topical. The research interest of the team is focused on the problem of knowledge and science both from the epistemological perspective and from the perspective of logic and methodology of sciences.

One of the highly topical issues the team focuses on is the relationship between natural sciences on one hand and social sciences and humanities on the other. The research on the similarities between these two kinds of scientific knowledge and the way they are generated is currently highly relevant not just for philosophical and methodological reasons, but also from the practical perspective, that means from the perspective of ruling the science. Concentrating on analytical methods in social sciences and humanities, the research team aims to verify the idea that social sciences and humanities are as scientific as natural sciences due to their using similar analytic methods as natural sciences employ. The concepts of scientific law and scientific explanation in natural and social sciences are examined from a comparative perspective by Igor Hanzel, who also works on the quantitative and qualitative methods in social sciences. František Gahér’s main research field is on the logic of science, besides other logical, semantic and methodological aspects of such analytical methods as defining and definitions, abduction and deduction. He specializes in applications of logic and logical semantics in law and legal regulations as well as in the history of logic. Igor Sedlár’s approaches the notion of knowledge from the perspective of philosophical logic. His research concentrates on epistemic logics – formal models of the notion of knowledge and related notions, such as belief and evidence. His original contributions to the area so far are mainly epistemic logics built on substructural logics, a special class of logics weaker that classical logic.

Michal Chabada’s main research area is the problem of knowledge and science in the context of the history of philosophy. He examines historical debates on the nature and the role of intuitive and discursive/abstract knowledge, the problem of rationality, as well as the rationality versus faith problem as it occurred in medieval philosophy. He focuses also on the social and institutional context of these philosophical debates, dominated by the relationship between secular and religious power and by the struggle for academic freedom. The situatedness of science, both in terms of knowledge producing practices and institutions, in its wider social and cultural environment, is at the heart of Mariana Szapuová’s research interest. She focuses on the social turn in the current philosophy of science, i. e. the turn to the social dimensions of producing scientific knowledge, which leads to reconceptualizing some of the main concepts the traditional philosophical view of science was built around (e.g. the concept of the subject of knowledge, or the concept of objectivity).

Contact Person: Assoc. Prof. Mariana Szapuová, Ph.D. (mariana.szapuovauniba.sk)

“Language and Linguistics in Context”

This research team is composed of members of the Department of Slovak Languages and the Department of Slavic Studies, namely Prof. Juraj Dolník, DrSc., Prof. Pavol Žigo, Ph.D., Prof. Oľga Orgoňová, Ph.D., Prof. Miroslav Dudok, Ph.D., and Assoc. Prof. Alena Bohunická, Ph.D.

From the general point of view, the research is focused on interpretational aspects of language and the synchronic and diachronic linguistics. It is to respond to topical research challenges arising from the logic of the development and achievements of modern linguistics, as well as from the needs of social practice related to the process of humanization of both individual and social life. Its contents is based on the reflection of theoretical and methodological issues related to interpreting of the language and of the world through language, to the outputs from empirical research focused on interpretational aspects of language structures, processes and activities, as well as from intracultural and intercultural communication, and on the application potential of linguistic knowledge of interpretation.

Focal thematic areas:

  • linguistic interpretation of the natural, social and mental world;
  • interpretation of otherness;
  • interpretation in communication through language;
  • current interpretation of modern and past linguistic phenomena, processes and activities;
  • interpretational issues in intercultural communication.

In the context of the RIS 3 topical priorities, the research activities specifically concentrate on using a language in social interaction from the interdisciplinary point of view. The underlying research strategy has been determined by the expression ‘social culture’ which has been adopted from social anthropology but is interpreted in a specific way determined by the research objectives of researchers. The research is predominantly focused on linguistic and social standards as forms of interaction through which the societies’ natural culture is being created while this culture is of formative impact on their members. The output of the research project should bring systematic description of these norms and occasional responses of interacting members, while the changeability of the conditions of interaction should also be taken into account. The research is also important for explaining the mutual relationship between a collective and an individual, made possible by using the language. Its importance also lies in innovation in understanding the communicational culture with emphasis on illustrating the cultural growth of society, and in presenting a set of principles which are to be interpreted as the explanatory basis of linguistic behaviour and acting of individuals within the social culture.

Contact Person: Prof. Juraj Dolník, DrSc. (juraj.dolnikuniba.sk)

“National Literatures as Reflected in Literary Science”

This research team is composed of members of the Department of Slovak Literature and Literary Studies, Department of Russian and East European Studies, and the Department of German, Dutch and Scandinavian Studies, namely Prof. Ján Zambor, Ph.D., Prof. Valerián Mikula, Ph.D., Prof. Mária Kusá, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Miloslav Vojtech, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Jozef Tancer, Ph.D.

The Top Research Team of National Literatures as Reflected in Literary Science brings together experts, members of philology-oriented departments focused on research into national literatures within Europe with emphasis on Slovak literature and its inter-literary ties to narrower central European and broader Slavic cultural and literary area, as well as on literary research and life within broader cultural and territorial interdisciplinary context. From the point of methodology, the team associates experts whose research is chiefly focused on literary history, more particularly the history of Slovak literature from its beginnings to reflecting the current literary activities, and the position of Slovak literature within the inter-literary communities of national literatures (central-European, Czecho-Slovak and Slavic) related through their geographical, linguistic or genetic similarities. Apart from literary history and its being firmly rooted within the broader inter-literary and geographical context, the members of the team are engaged in studying the issues of theory and practice of literary translation, theoretical issues of translation studies, more particularly the history of literary translation, as well as broader methodological issues which are related to the theoretical reflection of individual national literatures (methodology of literary science with the emphasis on literary history, research into the period literary discourse, and issues of literary reception, genealogy of literary science and theory of verse, history of literary historiography and literary criticism, history of literary communication and its models, or the issues of interpreting literary texts and interpretational strategies).

The team’s research, primarily focused on literary science, is characterized by interdisciplinary overlaps targeted at cultural history (e.g. history  of newspapers and magazines within the broader central European context and related area of media strategies, or the issues of auto- and hetero-stereotypes), sociolinguistics and the aspects of history of languages as the elementary tools of literary and pragmatically oriented communication between national and inter-literary communities (with specific regard to the aspects of multilingualism) while accentuating literary languages within the inter-lingual context and inter-literary interaction. The research team members rank among top literary science experts in Slovakia. They have participated in number of scientific projects of national and international significance, they are members of editorial boards of home and foreign journals and almanacs, and as experts, have been involved in many international editorial and scientific projects.

Contact Person: Assoc. Prof. Miloslav Vojtech, Ph.D. (miloslav.vojtechuniba.sk)

“History of Slovakia in the Central European Context”

This research team is composed of members of the Department of General History, Department of Slovak History, Department of Ethnology and Museology, and the Department of Archiving and Auxiliary Sciences in History, namely Prof. Eduard Nižňanský, Ph.D., Prof. Roman Holec, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Juraj Šedivý, Ph.D., and Assoc. Prof. Pavol Tišliar, Ph.D.

The four historians of the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University specialize in the history of Slovakia within the Central European context from the medieval period to the 20th century. The phenomena are not examined separately (e.g. just from the point of view of the Slovak ethnic group and space), they always see them in interaction with the general development in the territory, as well as with the analogies to the trends in the neighbouring historical regions. They identify new topics and bring first syntheses to the topics which have so far not been processed by the Slovak historiography. They rank among the top experts in historical sciences. The team members join forces in enhancing knowledge of the history of Slovakia within the context of the Central European historical regions. The oldest period (the Middle Ages and partly Early Modern Times) is in the research focus of J. Šedivý, followed chronologically by the research carried out by R. Holec (19th and early 20th centuries) and by E. Nižňanský’s research (predominantly the 1930s and 1940s). P. Tišliar has enriched the above mentioned historical analyses in historical-demographic dimension (with the emphasis on the 20th century).

Juraj Šedivý (Middle Ages, history of literacy, urban history) has cultivated the disciplines which were practically non-existent in Slovakia (palaeography, epigraphy, history of literacy). Contrary to isolated research activities (into codices, charters, inscriptions), common also in the West, Šedivý explores the Central European centres of literacy from all three main aspects. His monograph, written in German, presented such complex approach to the collegiate chapter in Bratislava, and made him an internationally recognized expert (he was elected to the top scientific network of historians specializing in literacy – CIPL). He has built up a team of experts and founded the Corpus incriptionum Slovaciae edition project with the aim of analyzing the medieval and early modern age inscriptions in the Slovak territory. Šedivý initiated also the unique historiographic project which has engaged over 200 experts from 4 countries with the goal of publishing a 5-volume history of Bratislava. Within this project he created an untraditionally structured monograph and for the first time brought up several new topics within the Slovak urban historiography (e.g. relations of the citizens and their natural environment, uses and abuses of the past in urban milieu). The first volume won 6 main Slovak awards, e.g. the book of the year 2012. The book also came to international acclaim (the editor was elected to the world network of city history historians – CIHV).

Roman Holec (19th and mid 20th centuries, economic and social history, environmental history) is a profiling personality in the 19th and mid 20th centuries Slovak economic and social history. He has been systematically striving for applying the west European and American concepts in the economic development of the Habsburg monarchy. In this context he undertook to formulate a theory of agricultural revolution in the Hungarian Kingdom in connection with the protracted agrarian crisis of the last quarter of the 19th century. He initiated the research into aristocracy of the 19th and 20th centuries, the topics undealt with in Slovakia before. Holec has also studied other social layers (state administration officers, bank clerks, maids, managers, farm administrators). He was the first one in Slovakia to start examining the issues of the relationship between man and nature, the origin and development of ecological thinking and the relationship of man to the environment during the long 19th century. Holec carried out systematic research in several areas, more particularly in the area of the ideological transfer, e.g. in the area of party ideology (agrarianism). He defined some of its stages (Bulgarian, Czechoslovak, Polish and American) and emphasized the meaning of the “third way” concept as of the natural centre position of the agrarian ideology fully corresponding to the mentality of central European peasants at least.

Eduard Nižňanský (World War II, the Holocaust) is the chief editor of the Holokaust na Slovensku (Holocaust in Slovakia) series, so far comprising 8 volumes, mapping the Slovak State era. He is the chief editor of the Slovensko-nemecké vzťahy v rokoch 1938 – 1945 v dokumentoch I-II, (Slovak-German Relations Between 1938-1945 in Documents I – II) project which represents the primary study resources of this period. He is an editor of the only academic almanac in Slovakia on the topic of the holocaust, Judaica et Holocaustica. For the Slovak historical association he mediated varied methodological approaches to the interpretation of Nazism and holocaust (the monograph: Interpretácia fašizmu historiografiou SRN [Interpreting Fascism by the German Historiography]). He was the first in Slovakia to cultivate the methodology of intentionalism for the 20th century research in Slovakia and the methodology of realism for interpreting international relations (including the issues of Nazi Germany and Central Europe). His research was part of great international projects (e.g. the ESF: “Occupation in Europe: The Impact of National Socialism and Fascism (1938-1950)”, Vienna University, Institute for Conflict Research in Vienna etc.: “A Mauthausen Survivers’ Documentation Project”, Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance in Vienna: “Database of the Victims of Austrian Holocaust”).

Pavol Tišliar (historical demography and population development in the 19th and 20th centuries) is an actual founder and cultivator of historical demography in Slovakia and author of almost 20 books. He was elected member of the editorial board of the Historická demografie (Scopus, Erih) journal, published by the Ethnological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague. The publication Plodnosť a celková reprodukcia obyvateľstva Slovenska [Fertility and General Reproduction of Slovak Population; 2009] written as joint authorship of Branislav Šprocha and Pavol Tišliar became one of the primary sources in creating the database of world fertility (Gapminder project: Ajus, F. – Lindgren, M.: Gapminder documentation 008. Stockholm: Gapminder foundation, 2009). Tišliar specified some of the outcomes of the Princeton project (“European Fertility Project“) and applied them to population trends in Slovakia within the broader central European context. He founded the Populačné štúdie Slovenska series (so far of 4 volumes) as one of the outcomes of the research into the population policy and population climate in the first half of the 20th century and defined the theoretical and methodological research resources into the phenomena mentioned above which represent the essential pillar of the concept of preparing and compiling the Historický atlas obyvateľstva Slovenska v 18. – 1. pol. 20. storočia [Historical Atlas of Slovak Population Between 18th and the first Half of the 20th Centuries] project which is unique within the Central European context.

Contact Person: Assoc. Prof. Juraj Šedivý, Ph.D. (juraj.sedivyuniba.sk)