R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Literatura Portuguesa [LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759] visitada em 13/02/2008

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade

The Centre for Portuguese Literature was created in 2003, beginning its activities in 2004, when the first funding was received. Scholarly work undertaken in the Centre encompasses the fields of Portuguese Literature, Art Studies; African Studies.


The declared objectives of the Centre are to study and promote Portuguese and Lusophone Literature through literary studies and the production of critical editions; explore the relationship between Literature and the visual arts, namely Painting, Theatre and Cinema; give due attention to the relationship between Literature, the educational milieu and the wider society; promote renewal in literary criticism, drawing on the disciplines of Cultural Studies and Inter-artistic Studies.


The Centre is managed by an Executive Committee constituted by the Centre Director, Principal Researcher of each research line, and three other nominated members. The Arts Faculty provides logistical support and financial advice. Currently young researchers carry out bureaucratic tasks but the Centre see an urgent need to remedy this situation. According to the information provided on the Centre website, there is also an Advisory Board of senior academics from other institutions, national and international. 29 researchers with PhD, 6 researchers with PhD from other institutions, 10 non PhD researchers, and 6 collaborators contribute to 4 research lines, each headed by a Principal Researcher. These are: Studies on Garrett and Romanticism – Critical Edition of Almeida Garrett’s Works; Fictional Characters; Poetics (Poética e Poéticas); Literature without Frontiers (beginning in 2007). (A fifth research line, Studies on Modernity, was temporarily discontinued in 2007). Researchers may belong to more than one line, in accordance with their own research interests.



As demonstrated in the Centre’s report to FCT, members and collaborators have been productive across the expected range of academic publications, namely scholarly critical editions, volumes of literary history, monographs, journal numbers, articles in journals, collections of selected conference papers, collected essays and disseminatory works. These focus on canonical authors and works (Gil Vicente, Garrett, Eça de Queiroz), literary genres and Lusophone literature, among others. However, the information provided within individual CVs in the submission is not always detailed, making it difficult for the panel to form as complete view as they would have wished. Moreover, It is not always clear how individual researchers have contributed or will contribute to the groups.


The Centre incorporates a number of postgraduates and emerging scholars. In the period from 2004 to 2006, the Centre has produced 25 Masters and 11 PhDs. High profile international scholars are invited to give seminars and lectures in Coimbra, and members of the Centre regularly participate in national and international seminars and conferences. The Arts Faculty has a longstanding tradition of contributing to the advanced training of teachers in secondary schools and colleges (CPD or Continuing Professional Development). As is now required by law, the Centre runs a programme of credit-bearing training seminars for postgraduates.


The Centre has organised 6 major international conferences during the period in question, some in collaboration with Institutions in other countries (Brazil, Spain), 11 Seminars / Workshops, and various lecture series with invited professors from national and foreign Universities (Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil and United States of America).


The Centre has an explicit commitment to promoting CPD, particularly in the secondary education sector, as well as fostering intellectual activities in the wider community, as demonstrated by open sessions with high profile Portuguese authors, commemorative exhibitions, public cultural events such as talks on writers and books, in public spaces and bookshops.


The Centre has defined its objectives, sometimes in excessively vague terms, and operates in the extremely broad field of Literary Studies. The Executive Committee oversee the running of the centre and the different research groups. They can also request guidance or recommendations from an advisory committee made up of senior academics with experience of directing their own research centres (Portugal, Italy and Spain), though it is not stated how often this takes place, or in which circumstances.



The Centre has achieved a certain critical mass because of the number of members who have adhered to the research groups, and because of their commitment to scholarly research. They now state their intention to give their activities greater visibility and coherence, aiming at greater integration between different member’s research through a transversal approach. How this intention will be implemented could have been spelled out more clearly. It is regrettable that the English in which the report has been written does not always facilitate comprehension.


From 2008 the Centre intends to publish an annual journal of literary theory and criticism, the Revista de Estudos Literários. They will continue to organise conferences, seminars and guest lectures, with an emphasis on inter-university cooperation, especially in the field of Medieval Studies. In the report, each research group has identified works to be researched and published. These were reiterated during the site visit.


Researchers in the Centre are either seeing long-term projects come to fruition, or are exploring topics more related to Cultural Studies, such as interpoetical spaces, such as the dialogue between literature and cinema. This work has already given rise to a number of publications. Literature without Frontiers may open up possibilities of postcolonial research.


The Centre has chosen to maintain the structure of four research groups. These are the two broader groupings of Poetics and Literature without Frontiers, which involve an interdisciplinary approach to Literary Studies, and the very focused Garrett & Romanticism and Fictional Figures groups. The former take account of new critical trends, methodologies and technologies, the latter will continue produce work that renders sterling service to the broad community of researchers and teachers.


The Centre has had three Directors since 2003, always supported by the Executive Committee. Leadership is delivered at different levels, namely the oversight of the Centre, and through the coordinating activities of the Principal Researchers. It would seem that the continuity in managing the Centre derives from the permanence of the structures rather than the exclusive input of an individual.


The Centre fulfils an important role within the Centre-North region, offering CPD opportunities to secondary school teachers and other educators, young scholars employed in other Universities, postgraduates who have come through from Coimbra’s own undergraduate programmes, as well as the wider Coimbra area.


The research undertaken in the Centre, in particular on canonical authors as Almeida Garrett and Eça de Queiroz, is of value not only nationally but on an international level. Scholars from other Universities who collaborate in Centre activities and research projects take their knowledge and experience back to their home institutions, postgraduates who receive their professional/academic formation in the Centre regularly contribute to academic events in other Portuguese Universities and abroad. The Centre thus becomes the locus of fruitful dialogue and interchange.


The Centre Management is well aware of the need to internationalise, raising the profile and visibility of its outputs outside Portugal. As a consequence, the Centre plans to increase collaboration with foreign researchers and Institutions (France, England, Spain), organising joint activities. They will continue to send members to international conferences, and there will be greater emphasis on publishing abroad.


The Centre has at its disposal a number of valuable resources, namely the Coimbra University Library as well as the Seminar Libraries in the Faculty of Arts. Nor should the research momentum that has built up over a period of years and predating the creation of the Centre be discounted. Added value comes from the accumulated experience and expertise of the Centre’s professorial members, who are in an optimum position to pass on their knowledge to young researchers and to educators who will go out and teach literature and cultural studies to the new generations.


The Centre receives a grading of 3.5. While there are clear examples of excellence in the Centre’s outputs, this excellence is not uniformly distributed across the research groups. This unevenness may derive from the size of research groups, or the breadth of the projects undertaken, leading to a certain dispersion and lack of cohesiveness. Although the report lists various publications (perfectly valid in their own right), it is not clear how some of them relate to the core themes of the groups.


i) SUPPORT /DISCONTINUATION OF RESEARCH LINES The 4 research lines as currently defined are academically sustainable, having emerged from the researchers’ academic interests.

ii) RECONFIGURATION AND /OR STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENTS The Centre has recently made adjustments to the configuration of the research groups, therefore it might not be particularly, useful at this stage, to make any strong recommendations on this aspect, before the changes have had time to take effect. However, it would be useful to coordinate the work of the groups more tightly in order to implement the transversality that is foregrounded in the documentation, and ensure that the stated objectives of the Centre are achieved.

iii) LEADERSHIP AND RENEWAL It might be premature to raise the question of leadership since the Director has only been in post since 2007. In respect of renewal, the Centre has younger scholars who will ensure continuity in research and publication, especially if the Centre pursues its aim of sending researchers abroad to other Universities, to attend conferences, seminars and other relevant events. The Centre may also wish to increase the number of non doctoral researchers, thus altering the balance between PhD researchers and collaborators, and postgraduate students and emerging scholars. Finally, the Centre should make every effort to attain the goal of greater internationalisation. Scholarship in the Centre should be disseminated more widely, and the scholars themselves would benefit from a more extended dialogue with far flung colleagues. Therefore, in order to achieve credibility, the Revista de Estudos Literários should have an international editorial board and a transparent process of peer review.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Fictional Characters [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759-1069]
Literature Without Frontiers [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759-1072]
Poetics (Poética e Poéticas) [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759-1070]
Studies on Garrett and Romanticism - Critical edition of Almeida Garrett's Works [RG-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759-1068]
Studies on Modernity [RG-X-LIT-Centro-Coimbra-759-1071]