FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Estudos Comparatistas [LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509] visitada em 15/02/2008

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Since its founding in 1998-99, the Centro de Estudos Comparatistas has served as the research and publishing arm of the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas in the Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa (FLUL). The Program, which dates from 1991, is the seat of the academic curriculum, with graduate degree granting authority for an M.A. and a Ph.D. While the academic Program is an inter-departmental consortium consisting of the Departments of Estudos Anglísticos, Estudos Clássicos, Estudos Germanísticos and Literaturas Românicas, the research, publishing, conference, and international exchange focus of the Program is coordinated through the Centro de Estudos Comparatistas (CEC). The CEC has received programmatic and pluriannual FCT funding in the last four years. The CEC currently consists of 48 members––28 researchers with Ph.D.s and 20 Ph.D. candidates. Among the 28 researchers figure 16 post-doctoral fellows.
The demographic of the Unit is a good mixture of professionals and pre-professionals at varying stages of their careers. The relationship of the CEC’s activities to the pedagogical and degree-granting mission of the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas is a healthy one, with CEC infusing the Program and its parent faculty, FLUL, with an exciting range of activities and a wide spectrum of international engagement across Europe and across the Atlantic.


2. DECLARED OBJECTIVES

The declared aim of the CEC is to aggregate the collaboration of a number of researchers with cognate interests from various departments of literary and cultural studies in order to pursue an international research and publication agenda, as well as an ongoing schedule of conferences, symposia, and guest lectures. These activities are organized to function in transversal fashion to the academic and pedagogical Program, with particular focus on Intercultural Studies (embracing travel literature, utopian literature, and literary translation); European literary and cultural studies (highlighting the presence of Portuguese and Lusophone cultures in the context of Europe); Inter-semiotic Studies with a focus on cinema, theatre, painting and architecture.


3. ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE

The Centro de Estudos Comparatistas consists of six Research Groups, each headed by a principal investigator. They, in turn, collectively form a management group that administers the Centre. The most innovative element in CEC’s administrative structure consists in one of the six RGs being constituted as aggregate umbrella structure that serves for self-assessments and self-reflective focus group for the whole CEC. In addition, this focal aggregate called PROFILE serves as juncture and interface with the academic departments that constitute the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas. It is clear that the arrangement is working quite well, inasmuch as all participants in CEC, as individuals and as RGs, operate as invested stake holders in a horizontal governance structure that is optimally inclusive and participatory in setting an intense and high level research agenda and in coordinating the diversity of the Unit’s activities. The Unit is well organized, well functioning, and its leadership quite successful. In addition to its intramural governance structure, CEC has a distinguished international advisory board consisting of specialists from the universities of Warwick, the Catholic University of Leuven, Minho, and Lisbon.


4. PRODUCTIVITY

4.1 PUBLICATIONS

CEC’s publishing program is principally focused through its symposia, conferences, and publications series “Alteridades, Cruzamentos, Transferências” (ACT). The array of activities in seminars, conferences, and volumes published through this series is very impressive. The six RGs of CEC rotate responsibility of events and preparation of editions, whether selected proceedings or solicited distinguished lectures, to be published and disseminated through the ACT series. This is a very effective mechanism for insuring an archival record and publications output that is circulated and recognized internationally. It is also a distributive mechanism that allows the work of all RGs in the Unit to be featured in the broader agora of scholarly engagement.
In addition, CEC maintains the largest bibliographical record of activity in Portugal in the field of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies. This is the archive referred to as “Bibliografia Comparatista em Portugal” (CECBase), which has received FCT funding in the past four years, allowing its documentation to go from 2850 entries in 2004 to 7000 entries at the moment of this FCT site visit. With a principal focus on the last three decades, the bibliography includes work on key Portuguese authors, cumulative bibliographies of periodical publications, as well as doctoral dissertations and masters’ theses. The current plan, quite admirable in its ambition and, given the past record of the Unit, credibly viable, is to extend the chronological scope of the project from 1960 to 2010, inclusive. What is already a unique archive promises to be the most complete database in literary studies in Portugal.
Since 2002, CEC also publishes a semi-annual journal, Textos e Pretextos, principally under the editorship and production responsibility of the postgraduate students in the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas. This is a well-produced journal. Most importantly, it serves as laboratory and scholarly practicum for professional training in editing and publication for the doctoral candidates in the Program.


4.2. TRAINING

Within the period under evaluation (2003-2006), CEC has trained 36 M.A. and 12 Ph.D. graduates. This is an impressive record for training in literary studies by any criteria, national or international. With 16 Ph.D. students currently enrolled and in training, the CEC occupies a leadership position in the training of literary scholars in Portugal and figures among the leading postgraduate programs in the EU.


4.3. ACADEMIC EVENTS

CEC has a regularly scheduled slate of activities, programmed semi-annually through two of its ongoing series––“Alteridades, Cruzamentos, Transferências” (ACT), and SEMINARIO. These involve symposia, seminars, distinguished visiting lecturers, and mini-courses by world-renown specialists in literary and cultural studies.
In addition, CEC collaborates with the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas and with the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa in hosting international conferences of large organizations such as the III World Congress of the International American Studies Association in 2007, the European Society for Translation Studies in 2004.
CEC also collaborates periodically with other academic units of the University of Lisbon and of other local institutions in holding joint symposia and seminars, most recently, immediately following the current FCT evaluation site visit, with the Centro de Investigações & Desenvolvimento sobre Direito e Sociedade da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade Nova de Lisbõa, 19-20 February 2008.
CEC is an integral part and active participant in the Associação Portuguesa de Literatura Comparada (APLC), which was founded at the Universidade de Lisbõa in 1986, from where it was officially registered in May 1987, and where it held its first congress in June of 1987. APLC is currently housed at the Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Coimbra.
One of the most active centers in Europe, CEC serves as a junction of academic activity and scholarly dialogue of the highest order.

CEC operates in a fully integrated management structure with a high level of horizontal communication in setting the Unit’s collective agenda through the aggregate, umbrella RG referred to as PROFILE This makes for a broad participation in managerial decision making. The evaluation panel was impressed by this highly inclusive management strategy, which extends from the most senior members of the research team to the postgraduate students. Impressive also is the interface between CEC and the various academic departments in FLUL that constitute the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas. Overall, CEC enjoys excellent leadership and efficient managerial modus operandi, a number of logistical difficulties and time-lag in delivery of pledged FCT support notwithstanding.


6. FUTURE PLANNING

CEC’s management strategy ensures a cyclical or periodic continuity in activities for the foreseeable future. Continuity is especially important in the bibliographic project CECBase so as not to interrupt the building of the database and the Unit is keenly focused on this project. The international collaborations that give CEC its high profile should be ensured under the current planning regime. All of the strategic procedures for this are already in place.


6.1 INTELLECTUAL CONTENT AND STRATEGY

The intellectual content of CEC is of a high order, with the research lines complementing each other well and converging productively in the PROFILE Research Group. It is important that the current strategy be kept on course, with the continued integration of younger researchers and the training of new doctoral and masters’ candidates. CEC is well positioned for staying at the forefront of developments in the field of literary studies and its momentum should be supported and maintained.


6.2 INTELLECTUAL COGENCY

The intellectual cogency in CEC is quite strong and constantly nurtured by the synergetic interaction of its 6 research lines. The continuity between CEC’s work and the pedagogical mission of its academic home––the Programa em Estudos Comparatistas––, reinforces this cogency, as do the multiple links to international organizations and intramural academic interactions. The diversity of activities in publishing, conferences, guest lectures and seminars ensures a healthy balance and an even keel for the intellectual agenda of CEC.


6.3 ORGANIZATIONAL COHERENCE

The organizational coherence of CEC draws great strength from the cogency of its intellectual agenda and from the unmistakable good will among the members of the six Research Groups. The fact that one of these lines is dedicated to constant self-evaluation and self-reflection ensures the internal consistency that keeps the Unit operating as productively as it does. The age distribution and variety of specialisms among members of the research team appears to be healthy and harmoniously maintained.


6.4 LEADERSHIP AND CONTINUITY

CEC’s leadership is admirable for its managerial abilities, intellectual vision, success in fostering and maintaining a high level of professional collegiality and personal conviviality among its team members. The likelihood of sustainability for functioning at this level is quite high, given the commitment and vision demonstrated by the Unit’s leadership.


7. REGIONAL ROLE

Being part of the flagship university of Portugal’s capital, CEC is positioned well for exercising a leadership role in the central region of the country. There are already a number of participants in the research endeavors of the Unit from Evora and from Aveiro, as well as other universities in Lisbon, the Católica and Nova, in particular.


8. NATIONAL INTEREST

CEC is already Portugal’s most visible research unit in the field of humanities in Europe and across the Atlantic. The outcomes of its activities in publishing, as well as in bibliographic database, and in the training of future scholars and professionals for Portugal’s university system, makes CEC a highly valuable national asset. •CEC’s collaboration is also national, with productive on-going cooperation with researchers in Porto, and Minho.


9. INTERNATIONAL PROFILE

Among Portuguese Research Units in the humanities, CEC is the most widely networked internationally. Its consortial linkages extend to the most significant and most prestigious European institutions functioning today: HERMES, SYNAPSIS, LITEVA, COTEPRA, ACUME I and ACUME II. ECE is also an affiliate of the more recently founded Réseau Européen d’Etudes Littéraires Comparées (REELC), with its secretariat currently headquartered at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London.
In addition to its links with these well established consortia in the European Union, CEC also has bilateral agreements for collaboration with a number of world-class universities in Europe––Aarhus, Denmark; Bologna, Italy; Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium; Giessen, Germany; EPHE, Paris, France; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; University College, London, UK; Utrecht, The Netherlands; as well as in the Americas––University of California, Berkeley; City University of New York; Harvard University; Indiana University; Princeton University; Universidade do Rio de Janeiro; UNICAMP, Minas Gerais; University of Wisconsin.
Few institutions in Europe, much less in Portugal, could claim such select active partnerships.


10. DISTINCTIVE FUTURES AND ADDED VALUE

CEC’s distinctiveness resides in its organizational composition and predictable cycle of activities that integrate research, publishing, pedagogy, conferencing, and professional training. The Unit harmonizes its endeavors through an evolved cogency not just in its intellectual agenda, but also in its structured administrative configuration.
Secondly, the highly visible international profile CEC projects for Portugal gives the Unit a unique value as a national asset. The high quality of CEC’s outcomes redound to the credit of Portugal and serve as benchmark for many other institutions, national and international.


11. GRADING OF CENTRE AND EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

Based on the review of accomplishments to date and on proposals for ongoing and future projects, as well as on the leading role it plays nationally and internationally through the diversity of its activities, CEC should be considered as an excellent Unit.


12. RECOMMENDATIONS

i) To keep under review the research groups to ensure parity of productivity.

ii) To continue the development of web-based archives

iii) To continue the Centre’s outreach activities

iv) To continue to develop international links

vi) To begin discussions to establish clear succession planning for the future.


13. SUPPORT/DISCONTINUATION OF RESEARCH LINES

The Evaluation Panel recommends granting the FCT funding requested by CEC. Having indicated its intentions to also pursue underwriting from a number of European Union sources, the FCT funding would place CEC in a favorable position for attracting further support for itself and for other Portuguese institutions from the EU.

Sobre os grupos de investigação
MORPHE (Memory, Testimony, and Forgetfulness ) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-552]
DISTRAE (Dislocating/Translating Europe) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-587]
INTIMACY (Intimacies. Problems of Self-Representation) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-586]
PROFILE (Theory and Practice of Comparatism) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-551]
THELEME (Interart Studies) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-589]
UTOPIA (Utopian Studies ) [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-509-588]