R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Estudos Clássicos [LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19] visitada em 07/02/2008

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade

The Centre for Classical Studies at the University of Lisbon is one of two Portuguese research centres in this field, and has already been in receipt of FCT funding for the period 2003-2006. It has been in existence since 1967, and its primary concerns have been, and continue to be, with the study of Classical Greek and Latin Philology and with the reception of Classical texts from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. There is a strong emphasis on Philology, Textual Exegesis, Llexicography, Epigraphy and Codicology. It is a well-established Centre consisting of some 20 members of the Classics Department of the University of Lisbon, and collaborators who are also involved in other centres in the University. The Centre also publishes the journal Euphrosyne, that has been in existence for some 50 years (since 1957), and that has an international board of advisors from Italy, Spain, France and England (but not the USA). The Centre has its base in a room within the Department of Classics at the University of Lisbon, and is reasonably well equipped with some of the most recent computer technology. In addition to securing FCT funding, the Centre has also secured Gulbenkian Foundation funding for individual publishing projects, and Euphrosyne has attracted funding from FCT, the University of Lisbon, and the European Union. As is the case with other Centres within the University of Lisbon, there exists a degree of anxiety concerning the prospect of institutional restructuring, although Classical Studies universally has particular problems that extend well beyond the institution, and that have been addressed differently in other contexts.


The declared objective of this Centre is to sustain a base in Classical Philology, although this field is described in broad terms that function to extend its remit into various aspects of ‘culture’, and into the use of classical references in indigenous Portuguese texts. The Centre concerns itself with the transmission of Classical culture, and with the preservation of Classical languages and their literature. The Centre sees, as one of its main objectives, the task of mediating between close focus on texts, and the diverse uses to which they have been put, while at the same time balancing the pressures of continuity against those of innovation. These are, in the main, general objectives that the Centre shares with any academic activity in the Humanities that deals with texts from the past, but because of the issue of Classical languages, the pressure is felt more acutely in this field of study. The response to that pressure has varied with circumstances, leading to innovative research, but this Centre has chosen to occupy a ‘conservative’ position in relation to these pressures that make the occasional tone of its documentation (and the presentation, in French, of its director) a little more defensive than it might have been.

The Centre is sub-divided into 5 groups, all of which were initiated in 2003, and all of which seek funding from FCT to sustain them until 2010. Each group has a designated Principal Investigator (PI), and each identifies a particular aspect of the Centre’s declared general objective. There is a ‘Greek Literature and Culture’ group consisting of some 8 Ph.D. researchers, and 7 non-Ph.D researchers, whose emphasis spans Greek Literature and Culture, Greek Lexicography and Classical Mythology. The work of this group ranges from ab initio teaching of Greek, through translation of Classical texts into Portuguese, the reception of Classical texts, the study of Classical literary theory, the compiling of bibliographies, and the production of a Greek-Portuguese dictionary. Additionally, this research group produces occasional monographs dedicated to particular topics and themes. Its main work is that of recovery, historical research, and reception. Absent from its profile is any consideration of the ways in which contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory (and Philosophy) has reviewed Classical texts (e.g. Plato, Aristotle) as a means of shaping modern research agendas in the Humanities. The Latin Literature and Culture group consists of some 5 Ph.D researchers and 7 non-Ph.D researchers, and takes as its main focus the compiling of a Classical Latin Literature Dictionary. It has also generated particular publications on Latin Law, Historiography, and Epic Poetry, and has links with a number of other European universities including Greece. The Medieval Latin Philology group consists of 6 Ph.D researchers and 6 others, of which 5 are non-Ph.D. The emphasis in this group is on the medieval use of Latin texts, and the focus on the MYTHOS project aims to recover reference to Latin texts in 16th century Portuguese culture. The Classical Tradition in Portuguese Culture group consists of 4 primary Ph.D researchers, one of whom is very senior, and 2 other Ph.D collaborators. Their focus is on two writers: Luis da Cruz and Joao Rodrigues de Sa de Menezes. The final group, led by the Director of the Centre, consists of 1 Ph.D researcher and 3 non-Ph.D researchers, and focuses on Epigraphy and Codicology, in particular the gathering of classical inscriptions from within Portugual. The work of this group connects to the international FERCAN project.

Each of these groups has its own full agenda, some very much more specific than others, and some have more outreach possibilities than others. Membership of each group varies in size and the work of each exemplifies in more than one way the general objectives of the Unit.


The administrative structure of the Unit is clear but hierarchical. Under the Director there are PIs for each of the research groups, and beneath them are researchers of various levels. Principal Investigators are nominated for each of the five groups, and the Director is a member of one group and a PI for another. This structure, while practically effective, does not encourage the kind of intellectual exchange that will easily produce new and innovative academic agendas. The present director will retire shortly and this will provide an opportunity to re-think and re-adjust the administrative structure of the Unit in such a way that its future research agendas can expand, and that it can rethink and rationalise its research groupings. The Unit as a whole is aware of the need to address the state of the discipline of Classical Studies, and to produce strategies to ensure the survival of the Centre as a focus for cutting-edge research.


One of the major strengths of this Centre is the quality and range of its publications. The established journal Euphrosyne is a major outlet for the Centre’s published research, but it also attracts contributions in French, English and Italian from researchers in the field outside Portugal. In addition the proceedings of various conferences and colloquia have been published from time to time in collected form e.g. Ovidio: exilio e poesia (2008) that contains 2 contributions from scholars at the University of Bari, and also under the Mythos project, Mito, Literatura, Arte: Mitos classicos no Portugal Quinhentista (2007), the papers of a colloquium containing contributions in English, French and Portuguese. Both these volumes acknowledge FCT funding, and both are well-produced and impressively illustrated. It is clear that funds allocated by the FCT have been allocated to publishing projects of this kind since 2003, but that also funding from other sources has been secured. Also, in the case of the Mythoas project, that has been ongoing since 2005, there is an international advisory board that will oversee Phase 2 (Jan-Dec. 2008) which will result in the production of a published inventory of mythological references. A particularly impressive example of the Centre’s published output is the facsimile 1518 Latin edition of Thomas More’s Utopia. This is a very well produced, scholarly edition with a full bibliographical apparatus and funded by the Gulbenkian foundation. In strategic terms the considerable volume of publication generated by the Centre is published from within its own resources (journals, colloquia, editions). There is very little attempt to disseminate research findings beyond the Iberian peninsula, or indeed to seek to publish in outlets outside Portugal. However, each of the research strands has generated major database projects such as dictionaries, lexicons, and catalogues, some of which take advantage of, and are accessible internationally via computer technology The overall publishing strategy is not peculiar to this Centre; indeed, it is a national feature of academic publishing, and is an issue that may well need to be addressed nationally. The publications record of this Centre is, nonetheless very strong.

In the various projects the role of the international advisory board is not clear, and in the case of the journal Euphrosyne the peer review process seems to depend almost exclusively upon the editor and Director of the Centre. The journal does have a board of advisors but their role is not clear, and in practice the responsibility for decision making appears to rest solely with the editor. This process needs to be updated, and to be brought into line with international practice. The advantages of doing so would be to give the journal a greater international presence.


The number of post-graduates generated by the Centre is not large, but they are enthusiastic, supportive of the Centre’s practices, and very committed. The library facilities were deemed adequate, and there was some sharing of resources with the University of Coimbra. Post-graduates met periodically, but aside from a few scholarships available for the purpose, there was no internal funding for conference attendance. Because of the investment that the Centre makes in publishing, there were good publishing outlets for productive post•graduates, and the writing of book reviews for the journal publications was closely supervised and provided a valuable training in particular forms of writing. Formal pedagogic training consisted of a half-semester module on Methodology, and in the wake of the adoption of the Bologna process there will be formal provision for a module on Methodology in the Ph.D programme offered by the Centre. Post-graduates teach some 13-15 hours per week, and they also teach outside their fields of specialisation. The Centre did not organise a meeting with post-graduates prior to the site visit of the FCT delegation, but it was clear from the meeting with post-graduates that the Centre offered considerable encouragement, in the form of post-graduate conferences, and the pastoral support for younger researchers. What was not clear from the site visit was the proportion of funds allocated to the various activities of the Centre, and in particular what proportion was dedicated to the encouragement of various post-graduate activities.


The Centre has generated regular colloquia and conferences, some of them large and international in character. There are plans to continue this activity up to 2010, and these are firmer in some of the research groupings than in others. There are plans for academic collaboration with other academic institutions, and there are also plans to increase the output of edited classical texts, and of volumes dealing with particular classical writers.


There are various connections with universities both inside and outside Portugal. There are also attempts to engage the interest of secondary school students e.g. a planned colloquium for 2008 on Latin Dialogue for secondary school students, generated by the research group for Latin Literature and Culture. Also, the small research group in Epigraphy and Codicology has (understandably) connections with museums. Under this heading the circulation of publications should not be excluded, although figures for the circulation of particular volumes, and for the journal were not provided. For example, the print run for the most recent edition of Euphrosyne is 500, but there appears to be no indication of the institutions to which the journal goes, or indeed, to the individuals who receive it outside the Centre or, especially, outside Portugal.


The present director of the Centre, Professor Aires Nacimento demits office this year and a successor has been appointed. It was not clear from the site visit whether the present ethos of the Centre would continue, or whether this would be the moment to overhaul its management strategy. The present structure is hierarchical, although benign, but there are no clear plans in place to re-appraise the Centre’s management practices, or to bring younger researchers more fully into it administrative structures. Even though, it must be said, that the prevailing patriarchal ethos has proved very successful the Centre is not as well equipped as it might be to face some of the challenges that will confront it in the future. There appears to be no structure in place for reviewing existing research groupings, or for generating new ones, and there is no clear overarching conceptual framework that can serve as a guide for the research focus of the Centre. The broad emphasis on Philology is amply borne out by the quantity and quality of publications and plans for publication in a range of media, but in order to capitalise on its strengths the Centre needs to be much more outward looking, and beyond Portugal. There are, it is true, plans and collaborations already in place that will assist this process, but there is no clear direction. It is not clear from the documentation provided what structures are in place to encourage new strands of thought, or how some of the existing research groupings might be rationalised and/or expanded. The current management structure is in need of significant overhauling if the Centre is to realise its considerable potential.


Much of the work of the Centre is dependent upon receiving adequate funding for the period up to 2010. It would not be unreasonable to deduce from the documentation provided that it is assumed that the present achievements would simply be extended into the future. The plans for colloquia, for international conferences, for electronic publication, for the continuation of Euphrosyne, and for the Mythos project are all well advanced, and on the basis of the evidence of what has been achieved so far are likely to bear fruit in the form of occasional high quality publication. The journal Euphrosyne is, perhaps, more complacent than it should be of its own status in the field and there should be plans in place to consider extending its international influence. The overall strategy seems to be to continue working on a series of fronts, and for the Centre’s research to be determined by occasional focus on texts and projects. The published output indicates that this part of the Centre’s activities are prestigious, but beyond that there seems to be no attempt to self-consciously review the Centre’s conceptual frameworks. It is important to do this urgently because there are particular research projects, such as the investigation of ‘food’ that might encourage a rethinking of topical and thematic questions, while at the same time allowing bridges to be built with other Centres in the University as well as helping to re-situate the Centre’s own critical and scholarly discourses.


The intellectual content and strategy of the Centre as a whole, to put the matter bluntly, is ‘conservative’. This is, perhaps, a consequence of the Centre’s prevailing discourse which invests heavily in the feeling of ‘embattlement’ that has acted as a brake on its intellectual development. The movement into the sphere of electronic publication of particular projects is welcome, and on the evidence reviewed, extremely effective, but a more positive ethos needs to be generated that will allow researchers to build on the excellent textual tradition that has been the main plank of the Centre’s strategy thus far. More concerted attempts need to be made to reconceptualise this field of study in the wake of the renewed interest, emanating from recent theoretical and philosophical enquiry, in the work of Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius etc. Also, the Centre needs to evolve a more integrated strategy for dealing with some of the interdisciplinary questions that surface from time to time in its work.


Firmer plans are required to be produced in order to deliver the existing programme for the future. As a matter of urgency the management structure of the Centre needs to be modified, and an administrative forum needs to be provided for the purpose of regularly reviewing research strands. This would be an opportune moment to explore the prospect of a restructuring, and to evaluate critically the Centre’s achievements to date in order to determine future directions. This would not necessarily involve a suspension or reduction of emphasis on the textual or philological basis of the Centre’s work, but ways need to be found that will enable it to build on and to emerge from some of the present constraints. It is important that what emerges should be the product of a consensus so that all members of the Centre will be in a position to ‘own’ the strategies for delivery of its varied programme.


Thus far the Centre has opted for a line of least resistance in terms of the intellectual cogency of its programmes of research. The production of texts is now a ‘hot’ topic internationally, but there is little evidence of the Centre’s participation in that debate. The generation of Lexicons, and other databases is, of course, valuable, but there is a need here to investigate the possibilities of collaboration in order to avoid duplication of resource.
Currently the headings of each of the research groupings are very broad, and some attempt needs to be made to identify and pursue particular research questions that will help focus research effort. There is little evidence so far of reflection on the state of the discipline, and of the ways in which interdisciplinary research might be pursued. One way of dealing with this might be to think of reorganisation in terms of thematic groupings that emanate organically from a core activity. This might also help in the business of building tighter structures for some of the research groupings. At present the ‘intellectual cogency’ of the Centre appears to be rather crude, whereas what is needed is a more open structure that will encourage new (and exciting) thought. The Centre is very well placed to expand its work organically but it will need to think seriously about direction.


In its current form the ‘organisational coherence’ is imposed. It is left to the emphasis upon texts and philology to carry the burden of the organisational coherence of the Centre, and most of its publications build on this. It is no longer sufficient that the Centre’s work remain within this straitjacket since there is a danger that what was a strength might become an impediment. At present the responsibility for organisational coherence devolves upon the director of the Centre, and while there needs to be an identifiable directorial power that will require to be exercised from time to time, the coherence of the Centre’s work must be generated from within its members as a group. Administrative structures need to be in place to ensure this; for example, regular meetings of PIs and a critical review of the coherence and progress of particular research strands, and mechanisms for generating new avenues of investigation. Thus far it is assumed that symposia and colloquia will carry the burden of this intellectual enquiry, but there is nothing below the level of these events that will ensure that the Centre keeps at the forefront its own critical sense of its progress. There is a coherence of sorts here, but it needs radical overhauling.


To date the Centre has had strong leadership in the sense that the power has been vested in the director. Also, provision has been made for a successor. However, care needs to be taken to ensure that ‘continuity’ does not provide the focus for a resistance to necessary change. Thus far (and this is not exclusive to this Centre) ‘internationalisation’ has been understood in a way that would not find ready support from the international community of scholars, and suggests an ad hoc response rather than a carefully thought through strategy. In a climate of radical change provision needs to be made for continuity and innovation, a vital combination if this Centre is to build on its achievements thus far.


As a prestigious Centre in the nation’s capital city the question of ‘regional role’ is not particularly relevant.


Clearly, as a Centre for Classical Studies in the oldest university in the capital, it would be important to maintain a research presence in this field. In cultural terms the investment in the investigation of the Portuguese dependence upon ‘classical’ texts is of major scholarly importance. Also the Centre’s potential for genuinely international publication will help to consolidate its own and the national interest. How that interest is best served, particularly in terms of the setting up and maintaining of structures that can deliver responsibly and on a wide front, is another matter.


As a Centre whose work focuses on Greek and Latin culture, this Centre’s international profile is self-defining. Clearly, some of the published output of this Centre is of international quality, and some of the ongoing projects have considerable international potential. The journal Euphrosyne has an international reputation and sustains this by publication of articles in other than the Portuguese language. Its ‘peer reviewing’ procedures, however, need to be overhauled in order to bring it into line with other international journals. Members of the Centre regularly attend international conferences, and a number of the symposia hosted by the Centre include delegates from other countries. The Centre’s formal relations with other European countries is patchy and might be improved. The Centre’s textual work compares well internationally, although it is not in the forefront of the international debate that has been taking place over the last half-century or so. The Lexicon project has considerable international potential, and the Mythos project has a good international advisory board. Some of this work might achieve the wide circulation it deserves by being made available in translation, and more widely disseminated beyond Portugal.


The Centre defines its position as being one on the cusp of a ‘change of paradigm’, and although specific projects are inflected in such a way as to support this perception, in other respects there is little evidence of it filtering through into the work of the Centre. The Centre is well positioned to participate in international debates and in some of the research groupings important Anglo-European links are being made. Particular groups within the Centre express their own priorities but there is no clear sense of an overall strategy that will provide a series of organic links. Each group feeds research into Euphrosyne, and the continuation of a journal such as this is a priority, as well as providing a showcase for the Centre’s research. There are a number of valuable strands in the Centre’s research activity that will require to be sustained and expanded. The Lexicon in the Greek Literature group, the 3 volume Dictionary of Latin Literature in the Latin Literature and Culture group, and the Mythos project are distinctive, although in general more needs to be done to advertise the Centre’s comparative work. Even within particular groups, some of the topics for discussion have been far superseded by the radical shifts in academic orientation internationally, and the Centre is well placed to begin to exploit particular interdisciplinary strands that could take some of its work outside the sphere if the Humanities as they are traditionally constituted. There are some collaborations with other Portuguese research centres, within Lisbon and beyond, but a more adventurous policy of collaboration (internally and externally) needs to be undertaken if the claim to being positioned on the cusp of a ‘change of paradigm’ is to have any substantive meaning.


The difficulty in providing a properly consolidated grade for this Centre is compounded by the unevenness of its foci, its outdated management structure, combined with the superior quality of its published outputs, and the environment and training it provides for its postgraduates.
The Centre has considerable potential, but at the present time its overall grading should be good. It deserves to be funded, but future funding should be made conditional upon its reforming its management structures, upon making its financial accounting procedures transparent by the itemising of its expenditures, rationalising its current groupings, further clarifying its conceptual frameworks, and the production of an organic plan that will draw together the various research groupings. In addition to the major projects identified, and to the Centre’s emphasis upon Philology, a greater emphasis needs to be placed upon thematic groupings that might extend across the groups.


Under this heading the following need to be addressed:

(i) Reform of the Centre’s management structure

(ii) The production of an organic plan for future development that will build on the strengths of the Centre

(iii) Expansion of the Centre’s ‘international’ activity into formal agreements with non-Portuguese Universities, and in making its own research work ‘internationally’ available

(iv) Sustaining of the journal Euphrosyne and an overhauling of its editorial board and peer reviewing practices

(v) Sustaining of the Mythos, Lexicon and Dictionary projects

(vi) More active attempt to secure EEC research funding

(vii) Rationalisation of research groupings


Of the 5 research groupings in this Centre, 3 are evidently sustainable: (i) Greek Literature and Culture, (ii) Latin Literature and Culture (iii) Medieval Latin Philology. The research work of the other two groupings (iv) Classical Tradition in Portuguese Culture, and (v) Epigraphy and Codicology will need to be reconfigured and might easily be either incorporated into one of the three strands, or might be linked with the work of other research centres. For example, the project on ‘foodstuffs’ in the Classical Tradition in Portuguese Culture already has a link with the Centre for the Study of Traditional Portuguese Culture with whom one of the major researchers in this area has collaborative status. The Epigraphy and Codicology grouping, while providing a valuable outreach element in its connection with museums, needs to be brought more directly into alignment with other work in the centre and could easily span both the Greek Literature and Culture and the Latin Literature and Culture strands.

It must be emphasised that realignment in this context means much more than simply finding a space within the 3 major research lines for the projects of individuals. While respecting the particular strengths and interests of individual researchers, a greater effort needs to be made to generate new configurations, possibly across thematic lines. Curiously, it is in Classical Tradition and Portuguese Culture that some of these thematic connections are beginning to be explored e.g. ‘Foodstuffs’ and female writing, but even here there is little evidence of some of the more sophisticated discourses on ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ that one might expect to find, and that would be part of the conceptual structure of research questions in a wider European (and especially ‘international’) context. The work of this strand needs to be fully and conceptually integrated into (i) and (ii) above. The same is true for Epigraphy and Codicology, where the remits should be fully integrated into (i) and (ii) and should be part of expanded thematic remits (e.g. death, violence, memorialisation etc).


The following recommendations and adjustments need to be made:

(i) Preservation of the Centre’s major projects and publications

(ii) Incorporation of strands (iv) and (v) into research groups (i), (ii), and (iii)

(iii) Building on the textual foundations of the Centre’s work, and expanding the thematic scope of research topics, bearing in mind current international debates. There is much scope here but it will involve significant moves forward beyond the remit of philology.

Sobre os grupos de investigação
L.A. n.º 3 - Medieval Latin Philology (Language, Literature, Instruments) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19-1236]
L.A. n.º 5 - Epigraphy and Codicology [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19-1238]
L.A.n.º 1 - Greek Literature and Culture [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19-1234]
L.A.n.º 2 - Latin Literature and Culture [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19-1235]
L.A.n.º 4 Classical Tradition in Portuguese Culture [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-19-1237]

Comentários da unidade

Not agreeing with the proposed evaluation, CEC feels the need to: correct mistakes in the report; clarify doubts; fill in omissions related to scope, role, and international recognition of CEC; provide information about its management structure.

CEC doesn’t have its base «in a room within the Department of Classics at the University of Lisbon». It is also not true that the «Centre did not organize a meeting with post-graduates prior to the site visit of the delegation». The allocation of funds to the activities of the Centre is duly registered and can be checked at any time.

Since no member of the evaluation panel is from Classical Studies, the report shows a lack of understanding of: 1. the interdisciplinarity of Classical Studies; 2. the importance of philological editions, studies and translations as a way of opening new fields of knowledge. Statements like in 6.3 prove the lack of attention to the interdisciplinary nature of most of the colloquia, research seminars and publications by CEC.

CEC has been able to attract funding from diversified sources, proving the relevance of the research carried out. The maintaining of Euphrosyne, a high quality journal of international recognition, is a proof of its vitality. Unlike what is said in 7, the regional role of this «prestigious Centre», as the report itself recognizes, is most relevant: CEC is engaged in pedagogical actions in secondary schools, and attracts undergraduate and graduate students from the whole country. The impact of its actions and publications can be measured by the numerous prizes and awards received so far, that the report fails to mention.

CEC has a director, 5 research lines and an international board of independent advisors of international recognition. This structure produced high-quality scientific outputs, as recognized by all evaluation panels so far. Presently CEC is carrying on a complete reappraising of its management in the framework of UL, a point misunderstood in the report.