FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Centro Interuniversitário de Estudos Camonianos [LIT-Centro-Coimbra-150] visitada em 12/02/2008

Classificação: Very Good

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

The Interuniversity Centre for Camonian Studies (CIEC) was founded in 1993, is established as a statutory institution situated within the University of Coimbra, and draws on scholarly expertise from other Universities. The Centre has received no funding from FCT for the last 4 years, and as a consequence has reviewed its own structure and procedures in order to bring its organisation into line with the formal requirements of FCT. The Centre has established a genuinely international advisory board, and it has paid particular attention to the age profiles of members and collaborators. The history of the Centre’s activities during the last 4 years is impressive: a revision of the Centre’s management structure, the setting up of 4 organically integrated research streams, and a series of initiatives designed to establish links with other Portuguese and international individuals and groups. Each of the 4 research groups has developed its own dynamic, but each is also situated within the larger context of the interface between literature and other disciplines. Given the central nature of Camoes to Portuguese Literature and Culture, it is not surprising to find that the Centre has connections – through collaboration, and via the placement of post-doctoral students – with every Portuguese university, and the recently established links with the University of Santa Barbara in the USA along with connections with other European universities indicates a positive ethos that has developed initiatives over the past 4 years to extend the Centre’s influence, to secure funding for its scholarly projects, and to establish itself as a world centre for the study of Camonian texts. The Centre has an identifiable geographical location and an impressive library some of whose holdings are likely to be of interest to bibliographers who are not Camoes specialists, but who have a specialisation in The History of the Book.


2. DECLARED OBJECTIVES

The Centre’s main objectives involve seeking to establish, and to further, across a wide front, both the study and dissemination of Camonian texts, and also to situate them historically and diachronically within the larger context of Portuguese and European culture. The Centre’s work is grounded in textual bibliographical work, and it expects to continue this into the future. This is the declared objective of the first research grouping and it provides part of the foundation for each of the other 3 groupings. The production of Camonian texts leads on logically to investigation of the ‘author’ and the ‘myth’, essentially a historical investigation, but one that utilizes methods and approaches that help to sustain the following 2 research groupings: the Historical Reception of Camonian Texts, and New Perspectives of Reading Camonian Texts. Overall this is a carefully interwoven programme of development that is already growing organically, and has great future potential.
In addition to its research objectives and the publications that are already beginning to be generated by them, the Centre also aims to increase its own public visibility with a series of international symposia, prizes for postgraduate work, the further generation of postgraduate students, outreach sessions that will focus on particular anniversaries but also will link with schools and libraries, increased networking, and the establishment of connections with further research centres in Brazil and the USA.


3. ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE

It is clear from the documentation provided that the Centre has done much to overhaul its management structure. The Centre is directed by Prof. Jose Carlos Seabra Pereira, and each of the 4 research groups has an appointed PI. Together this management group, along with an appointed secretary and a treasurer, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Centre’s various scholarly, budgetary, and other, related activities. The total membership of the Centre is some 17/18 researchers, ranging from very senior scholars whose academic reputations have been sustained over a long period of time, to Ph.Ds at the beginning of their academic careers. In addition there is an International Advisory Board of 4 scholars, from the Universities of Yale, São Paulo, Florence, and Minho that at the moment (and in the absence of adequate funding) is offering informal advice to the Centre. It is anticipated that with FCT funding this element of the structure can be properly formalised. At the present time there are 3 Ph.Ds and 0 MAs but there are plans to increase these numbers. Also, attention appears to have been given to developing a wider age structure and gender balance within the Centre, with the specific intention of encouraging and integrating younger scholars into its research agendas. The effects of this policy were clearly in evidence during the site visit.


4. PRODUCTIVITY

4.1 PUBLICATIONS

The Centre established a connection with the Centre for Portuguese Studies at the University of Santa Barbara, and was active in collaborating with regard to the publication of the annual journal Santa Barbara Portuguese Studies volume on Camoes (2003). The Centre has published steadily during the past 7 years, in the area of edited texts, monographs, a dictionary under the auspices of the Association of Lusophonian Culture (ACLUS), and the editing of and contributions to journals. Even without FCT funding, plans are already coming to fruition to bring to publication a critical edition of the Lusiads, to publish, in 2008, the proceedings of 2 recent international Camoes symposia, and the second series of anthologies of essays relating to Camoes Studies. Series 1 has already been published and consists of 5 volumes, and series 2 will be published in mid 2008. IN addition there are plans to publish texts and commentaries, theses and monographs, intertextual studies involving writers who have engaged with Camonian texts, editions of the Lyrics. The Centre has already contributed to the publication of the Collected Works. The Centre has been responsible for the guest-editing of the review journal Relampago dedicated to Camonian Studies (2007), and it has also maintained and updated an impressive internet website.


4.2 TRAINING

To date the Centre’s training of postgraduates has been limited. Part of the problem might be the lack of student interest in the bibliographical aspects of the Centre’s work. However, there are plans designed to stimulate new research interest in all aspects of the Centre’s work. Of particular note is the sponsoring of 2 prizes for the best new work in Camonian Studies, the first of which is funded outwith FCT, and will be assigned in 2008. There are plans for international exchanges, and for the establishment of protocols with European, and North and South American Universities. At present the Centre has no money to support conference attendance for postgraduates, and the limited funding impacts upon the availability of facilities such as computing provision. No postgraduate held an FCT scholarship, but there was some concern expressed about the slowness of the FCT’s response to applications.


4.3 ACADEMIC EVENTS

The Centre has done much to sustain a series of academic events, both in terms of symposia, the establishment of academic protocols, the establishment of prizes, and in the connections with schools and libraries.


4.4 OUTREACH

In addition to the Centre’s policy with regard to contacts with schools, particular research groups (especially groups 2 and 4) have sought to establish a series of genuinely international connections, and there are plans to seek to establish the Centre as an international centre of excellence in order to access European funding to allow it to expand its activities.


5. MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

It is clear that the management strategy that has evolved during the past 3 years has now begun to bear fruit. There is ample evidence to indicate an organisation in which all levels are fully integrated into a Centre that is developing organically. There is also a strategy for continuation in the encouragement of younger scholars as part of the Centre’s policy.
Some of the difficulties that the Centre currently faces derive from its lack of funding during the past 3 years. There is ample evidence of willingness in the Centre, but certain practical priorities continue to loom large in the absence of adequate funding.
The management ethos emphasises the support that the Centre has tried to give to postgraduate students and young researchers, but it also feels the need to ensure steady quality publication. The main problem that the management of the Centre faces is in deciding on a strategic set of priorities that would allow the various research groupings to realise their full potential. This is not so much a failure of management strategy as a consequence of seeking (perfectly legitimately) to draw together the time-consuming activity of the Centre’s investment in textual and bibliographical work, while at the same time seeking to emphasise the reception (historical and contemporary) of these texts. This difficulty derives from two linked debates, and it may well be that because of the difficulties concerning resources during the last 3 years that it has not been possible to give full attention to precisely how these two important strands might overlap.


6. FUTURE PLANNING

The Centre’s future planning is clearly laid out in the documentation, and is quite logical in its arrangement. The strategies for internationalisation will need to be developed in more detail, and there are possibilities for linking with various international groups and libraries.


6.1 INTELLECTUAL CONTENT AND STRATEGY

The intellectual content of the Centre is solid and rests on very firm foundations. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the Centre is a little modest about its achievements and its potential. Its main strength is in the organic growth of its research strands, each dovetailing, or overlapping, with the others. The Centre’s textual work is, by its very nature, conservative, but there are other aspects of the Centre’s work that are clearly not, and these are the areas to which further strategic thought needs to be given. Indeed, the current state of knowledge in the sphere of textual bibliography is itself in flux, and the more international the Centre becomes, the more this debate will impact (very positively) on its work. The question of interesting younger scholars in textual work is not peculiar to the Centre, particularly in view of the kind of training that is required before such work can begin. The Centre has begun conceive a strategy that might bear fruit, but it need to think in more detail how, say, research group 4 (New Perspectives of Reading) might be a useful spearhead in this campaign.


6.2 INTELLECTUAL COGENCY

There is a very strong intellectual cogency in this Centre arising from the organic development of its work. The establishment of texts, their initial reception, their embedding in the larger cultural movements that provide a context for a historical understanding, the ways in which these texts interact with others both at the synchronic and diachronic levels, and the new ways in which they may now be read, all are part of a clear and coherent programme of research that foregrounds the process whereby we position, receive, value and use texts from the past.


6.3 ORGANIZATIONAL COHERENCE

The issue of organisational coherence is strongly linked in this instance to the matter of intellectual cogency. Each of the 4 research groupings has a substantial programme of research, and each is linked to the other 3.


6.4 LEADERSHIP AND CONTINUITY

The Centre is well led and all staff are integrated into its activities. There is an impressive age-range of members, but the policy of encouraging younger researchers and of moving the study of Camoes beyond historical parameters is important in guaranteeing an emphasis that is not in any way constricting. Indeed, this helps to establish a strong link between traditional and innovative research, and will help to guarantee intellectual continuity and succession.


7. REGIONAL ROLE

This is already a national Centre and so the question of regional role is not strictly relevant.


8. NATIONAL INTEREST

A centre dedicated to the study on a wide front of the National Poet is a fortiori of national interest. An ‘international’ inter-university Centre such as this is, must be of considerable importance to the cultural life of Portugal.


9. INTERNATIONAL PROFILE

The Centre’s international profile is already developing in a very positive way. Links have already been established world-wide, and the Centre has a stake in a number of international publications. It is not clear from the documentation whether its journal outputs are subject to a peer-reviewing process familiar to scholars in Britain and the USA, although the link with Santa Barbara would suggest that the Centre was.


10. DISTINCTIVE FUTURES AND ADDED VALUE

The Centre’s publications have already done much to raise the profile of Camões, and it is well placed to do more. Within the framework of debate concerning a national figure such as Camões, here are immediate connections to be made of a comparative nature, and there are already signs in the Centre’s work that these avenues are beginning to be explored.


11. GRADING OF CENTRE AND EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

In an initial grading for this Centre the overall score was good. However, after the site visit, where some of the issues not fully flagged up in the documentation were further explored, it emerged that the Centre had achieved a number of objectives despite its limited resources, and that with FCT funding it would be well placed to realise a number of its current plans and, at the same time, develop further a number of possibilities inherent in its own strategy. We propose therefore to give this Centre a classification of very good.


12. RECOMMENDATIONS

This Centre should now receive FCT funding. Also the Centre should consider exploring a number of avenues that could be developed from its existing structure. For example:
i) That the Centre should seek to expand the remit of its focus in textual bibliography in order to benefit from the considerable international debate currently being conducted in relation to editing, book history and marketing, and the printing and production of books.

ii) That the Centre should seek to establish protocols with the Library of Congress in Washington where a number of first edition of Camões texts are deposited. Also that the Centre should devote part of any funding to setting up a microfilm/Xerox archive of its own and that it should seek to gather an archive of first editions and/or filmed/Xeroxed copies.

iii) That in Group 4 (New Readings) some clearer theoretical parameters be established, and that the group should extend its remit to include topics such as post-colonialism, as well as developing further an internationalising remit.

iv) That the Centre might benefit from a greater emphasis on comparative work, especially in relation to the establishment of texts, the historical contextualisation, the reception of texts, the creation of a ‘national myth’, and the revolutions in reading such texts that have taken place in the Anglo-American academy over the last 30 years.

v) That the Centre targets prospective post-graduates, using research lines with which likely candidates are more familiar, as a means of stimulating interest in the textual side of the Centre’s work.


13. SUPPORT / DISCONTINUATION OF RESEARCH LINES

The recommendation is that all four lines of research be supported because together they form an organic whole. Also, they each offer researchers the opportunity to enter Camonian Studies at a number of levels, and that those levels that require a degree of textual bibliographical expertise would benefit considerably from the activities of those research groupings for which it was not a priority. As an organically integrated unit this Centre is well placed to stimulate, sustain, and advance scholarly interest in the writings of a national poet.


14. RECONFIGURATION AND/OR STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENTS

There is no need to suggest reconfiguration of present structures since this issue has already been the subject of the Centre’s own deliberations. The present structure allows for a realisation of current objectives and additionally is already proving to be an adequate foundation for future development.


15. LEADERSHIP AND RENEWAL

There are no outstanding problems of leadership in this Centre, and the present structure allows for future renewal. Of particular importance is the manner in which the different generations of scholars work together providing the best of traditional methods alongside the promise of new and adventurous avenues of investigation.
Although textual bibliography has for some time been regarded as the ‘conservative’ wing of study in the Humanities, this is now changing significantly as textual scholars are beginning to rethink the principles of editing texts, and the conceptual basis of textual concerns. There is ample evidence to suggest that this Centre is very well placed to participate in, and make a valuable international contribution to that debate.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
CAMÕES - O AUTOR HISTÓRICO E O MITO CAMONIANO (Camões – the historical author and the Camonian myth) [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-150-2521]
EDIÇÃO DE TEXTOS CAMONIANOS (Edition of Camonian Texts) [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-150-2520]
FORMAS DE EXISTÊNCIA DA OBRA CAMONIANA NA DIASSINCRONIA DAS RECPÇÕES (Forms of existence of the Camonian work in the diasincrony of its receptions) [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-150-2523]
NOVAS PERSPECTIVAS DE LEITURA DA ÉPICA, DA LÍRICA E DO TEATRO CAMONIAN (New perspectives of reading Camonian epics, lyrics and theatre) [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-150-2524]