The establishment of the Department of Historical Poetics was preceded by the Department of the History of Artistic Forms in Polish Literature created in 1955 under the guidance of Professor Kazimierz Budzyk. The team of scholars also included Kazimierz Bartoszyński, Ph.D., Michał Głowiński, Ph.D., Hanna Małgowska, M.A., and Janusz Sławiński, M.A. In January 1967 the Department of the History of Artistic Forms in Polish Literature was tranformed into the Department of Historical Poetics. It operated under the Division of the History of Contemporary Literature, headed by Professor Stefan Żółkiewski. The Chair of the Department of Historical Poetics was Dr. Janusz Sławiński, who stayed in charge until the end of August 1971. Due to changes in the organizational structure of the Institute of Literary Research, on September 1, 1971, the Department of Historical Poetics became a part of the Division of the Systematization of Literary Forms. Janusz Sławiński was appointed its director, while Michał Głowiński took the position of Chairman of the Department of Historical Poetics, which he held until the end of 1990. Thereafter, Professor Włodzimierz Bolecki became the new Chair. Since October 1, 2013, the Department’s new head has been Professor Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik.
From the very beginning, an important part of the Department’s activities has been the organization of Polish Conferences on Literary Theory. The annual conference meetings continued the tradition initiated at the University of Warsaw by Professor Kazimierz Budzyk and his associates, who later did their scholarly work at the Institute of Literary Research (Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, Janusz Sławiński, and Michał Głowiński, among others).
In 2011 in Krakow, the Department of Historical Poetics, jointly with the Department of Literary Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University, organized the 33rd Literary Theory Conference titled A History of Literature – A Reactivation.
In 2012 in Koscielisko, the Department of Historical Poetics, jointly with the Department of Literary Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University, organized the 40th Literary Theory Conference titled A Cultural History of Literature.
In 2013 in Jugowice, the Department of Historical Poetics, jointly with the University of Wroclaw and the Czech Academy of Arts and Sciences, organized the 41st Literary Theory Conference titled Discourses of Conflict.
Among other major joint projects carried out by the Department of Historical Poetics, one should mention the younger scholars’ conferences in the series Which Reading?, organized jointly with the Institute of Polish Philology of the Catholic University of Lublin and devoted to interpretations of the works of 20th-century poets. In the first place, the following publication series should also be indicated:
• Vademecum polonisty [A Polish Philologist’s Handbook] (including extensive compendia, dictionaries, and documentation textbooks);
• Z Dziejów Form Artystycznych w Literaturze Polskiej [On the History of Artistic Forms in Polish Literature] (so far 89 volumes);
• Rozprawy Literackie [Literary Treatises] (under the auspices of the Committee on Studies of Polish Literature; so far 85 volumes);
• The bimonthly Teksty Drugie.
In 2010-2012 the Department of Historical Poetics carried out an interdisciplinary project The Senses in Polish Culture. Representations of the Human Senses in Language, Literature, and Art from the Middle Ages to the Present. Its aim was to describe the sensory experience documented in the social and cultural codes, and recorded both in various social discourses, literary texts, works of art, and body language, as well as in the symbolism of gestures in folk rituals. The wide scope of the project required the collaboration of many experts in different fields of the humanities. The Department of Historical Poetics served in this project as a coordinator who organized activities between the various research teams (literature and linguistics, art history, philosophy, psychology, ethnology, etc.). The project is based on e-Science solutions, adopting the use of the Internet and digital technology tools for presenting scientific research and the dissemination of its outcomes. The end result is a website serving as a multimedia Internet thematic encyclopedia devoted to the problems of sensuality in culture. It is available at http://sensualnosc.ibl.waw.pl The project meets the strategic objectives of "The Digital Infrastructure Development Program for Sciences in 2007-2013" set up by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education on June 28, 2007.