The Institute’s History

About the history of the Institute of Literary Research

The Institute of Literary Research is one of the oldest units of the Polish Academy of Sciences. It was established in 1948, upon the regulation of the Council of Ministers of July 24th of that year. According to the foundation charter, it was a separate scientific unit, subordinate first to the Minister of Education, and soon – to the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. After three years the Institute was included in the structure of the Polish Academy of Sciences (based on the resolution of the Council of Ministers of July 9th 1952), becoming the first unit of the Division I (Social Sciences) of the PAN.

The initiator of the Institute’s establishment was Stefan Żółkiewski, a member of Parliament at the time and the editor in chief of “Kuźnica”, where he wrote about the project of establishing the Institute: “Before the war M. Kridl and F. Siedlecki dreamed about it. After the war Jan Kott planned it very precisely.” Żółkiewski cooperated with a number of people; they were mostly representatives of the 1910 generation: Jan Baculewski, Kazimierz Budzyk, Jan Zygmunt Jakubowski, Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Ewa Korzeniewska, Jan Kott, Wacław Kubacki, Maria Renata Mayenowa, Tadeusz Mikulski, Jadwiga Pietrusiewiczowa, Kazimierz Wyka, Maciej Żurowski.

The primary structure of the Institute comprised the Polish Literary History Section, Literary Theory and Literary Studies Methodology Section, Bibliography Section and Polish Literary History School Textbook Department. The latter was fast closed. In the place of the Polish Literary History Section, departments devoted to the literary history of different epochs and literary periods were created. The Literary Theory and Literary Methodology Section was replaced with departments of historical and theoretical poetics, and the Bibliography Section – with departments of Old Polish documentation, 20th century literature documentation and the Current Bibliography Department.

Among the subsequent changes in the unit’s structure, it is worthwhile to note the creation of the Folk Literature Section in 1953, which survived – changed into a department – till 1993, the establishment of the Periodicals History Department, replaced in 1993 with the Literary Communication in the PRL Period Department, and the establishment of the Literary Culture Studies Department in 1969, existing till 1987. The most recent important changes in the structure of the Institute include the creation of the Literary Studies Information Center (1992) and the Text Criticism and Scientific Editing Center (1998).

During the half of a century of its existence, IBL PAN has established its own history, created by its people and their works. It became a unit of a renowned, distinctive character, with an output confirmed by thousands of publications (in the KBN rankings it constantly obtains the category I).

IBL PAN publishes prestigious periodicals dedicated to literary history and theory, open to distinguished national and international researchers and specialists: “Pamiętnik Literacki” (founded in 1902 by the Towarzystwo Literackie im. Adama Mickiewicza [Adam Mickiewicz Literary Association], since 1952 published by IBL PAN, editors in chief T. Mikulski, since 1960 B. Zakrzewski, since 1998 G. Borkowska); Teksty (1972-1981) and their continuation Teksty Drugie (since 1990), editors in chief J. Błoński, since 1977 Cz. Hernas, since 1981 J. Sławiński, and since 1990 R. Nycz.

In the past, IBL PAN published the following periodicals: “Literary Studies in Poland” (in English) (1978-1992); “Biuletyn polonistyczny” [“Polish Studies Bulletin”] (1958-1992); “Rocznik czasopiśmiennictwa polskiego” [“Polish Periodical Annual”] (1962-1976), whose continuation was the “Kwartalnik historii prasy polskiej” [“History of Polish Press Quarterly”] (1977-1993).

Until the mid 1960s, the Institute’s educational work was limited to granting scientific titles: “kandydat nauk” [candidate of sciences] and Ph.D. In 1964 the first “docent” degrees were granted, soon replaced with the “doktor habilitowany” [dr hab. – Associate Professor] degree. The first “dr hab.” degrees were granted in 1969.

In general, in the years 1948-2004 231 persons obtained the Ph.D. title at the IBL PAN (including the former “candidate of sciences” titles), and this included 43 persons from outside the Institute. 102 persons obtained the “dr hab.” (Associate Professor) title (including the “docent” titles), and this included 30 persons from outside the Institute. Moreover, in the years 1966-1998 IBL PAN conducted postgraduate Ph.D. studies (now part-time), with 109 graduates.

The PAN Institute of Literary Research has now 94 Faculty members, including 37 Professors and Associate Professors, 36 Academic Lecturers (with Ph.D. degree) and 21 Assistants. Altogether the number of employees is 152. In the history of the Institute there have been times when there were many more employees than nowadays (e.g. in 1976 there were over 40 % more employees than presently), but the restructuring conducted at the beginning of the 1990s made it necessary to reduce many posts. This reform doubtless helped to raise the effectiveness and resiliency of the unit, resulting in an important enlargement of the field of activity in the area of scientific research, education and research organization, so that today the personnel of IBL PAN can be considered too small.

In 1998 the Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary, which coincided with its obtaining its legal personality (based on the regulation of the President of PAN). IBL strives to combine the concern to maintain its scientific identity with openness to new research perspectives. The future of the humanities depends not only on the ability to preserve the cultural heritage but also on the capacity to meet the challenges appearing with the process of the European integration. It is necessary to transform and rebuild the humanistic knowledge model, to reinterpret the position of Polish history and culture from the perspective of its place in the European culture. It is crucial to create possibilities of participation in large international interdisciplinary projects. It is also essential to make sure that research remains in close relation with humanistic education. This is precisely how we understand the mission of the PAN Institute of Literary Research.








Instytut Badań Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk

ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warszawa, tel. (22) 826-99-45, 6572-895, faks. (22) 826-99-45