The Institute for Czech Literature of the CAS (ICL) is the largest non-university organisation in the Czech Republic devoted to basic research in the field of literary scholarship. It is a guarantor of research on national identity in the field of literature, and the preeminent institution for Czech literary studies worldwide.
Research at the ICL focuses on Czech literature with respect to both its history and present status, as defined in both its linguistic and geographic aspect: that is, literature written in Czech as well as literature from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia written in the various languages used historically in these regions, namely Latin, Czech, and German. ICL members also investigate the relationship between Czech literature and the literatures of other languages and regions, theory of literature, as well as literary life in the Czech lands from its origins to the present day. It deals with both artistic and popular literature, and with the history of Czech theatre and drama.
ICL research, translation, and editorial activities in the field of theory reflect both Czech cultural heritage and the specific situation of Czech literature and literary scholarship. Here, ICL activities go beyond the specific interests of national philology, engaging with issues in the general field of literature and comparative literature. In the field of theory, the ICL is also engaged with the intellectual heritage of the Prague structuralist school, with which it has historical and institutional connections. Research also covers the field of art theory, media studies, philosophy, and cultural anthropology.
In the field of Czech literary studies, in both the national and international context, the ICL provides an organisation centre and information facilities, as well as study stays for researchers and students from abroad. Additionally, the institute publishes the scholarly journal Czech Literature, and operates public libraries in Prague and Brno.
The ICL also provides information services for the professional, student, and general public, available in its digital libraries as well as bibliographic and dictionary databases. Traffic to these internet services exceeds 1 million visits per year. Some ICL employees also participate in literary life as critics or reviewers, or else – outside the domain of their professional work at the CAS – with their own artistic work.
The ICL’s research programme is carried out jointly across workplaces in Prague and Brno, with departments bringing together the membership of both centres. Members at both workplaces are involved in academic work, while the ICL itself operates as a centre for postgraduate studies, traditionally in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and Masaryk University Faculty of Arts in Brno. In 2019, the postgraduate programme was extended to include Arts Faculties at Palacký University in Olomouc and the University of Ostrava.
Since 2016, the ICL has been managing the research infrastructure of the Czech Literary Bibliography, and it is a co-publisher of the Czech Library series, which provides students, teachers, and the general public with classic works of Czech literature from the Medieval Period to the present.