This department deals with the sociology of literary communication in the Czech lands from the Enlightenment to the present. The professional interest of its members include the social and economic contexts of literary communication and history of literary institutions, as well as historical changes in the authorship, writing, distribution, and readership of texts.
On the basis of a series of conferences organised upon its establishment in 2003, the Department of Literary Communication and Popular Culture (LitCult) oversaw the publication of The Short Story, Novel, and Periodicals (2005) and ‘We Provide a Decent Wage’: The Economic Context of the Writing Profession (2009). In 2009–2015, the department focused on the issue of censorship in literature and the press. The main result was the anthology Dangerous Literature? An Anthology of Thought on Literary Censorship (2012), followed by a two-volume synthesis with the title In the Public Interest (2015), which was well received both in the foreign and domestic contexts and won various awards (including the Josef Hlávka Award). In the following years, members of the VLK focused on the history of the book market during the Enlightenment reforms and birth of national movements. Output of this research includes the monograph On the Way to a ‘Well-Organised Bookstore’ (2019) and The Book Industry in Bohemia 1749–1848 (Buchwesen in Böhmen 1749–1848, 2019). An initial period of quantitative and qualitative research on contemporary reading and readers in the Czech Republic (starting in 2007), has been followed by the department’s current interest in historical readers, as well as the involvement of LitCult members in various European projects. Within the auspices of the European project READ-IT, department members will help develop a digital platform for collecting information about reading activities, as well as analyzing and sharing it, and making it public.
A second line of research within the LitCult involves the study of genres and media of popular culture, and the theory and history of comics. The department oversees activities at the Centre for Comics Studies, a joint workplace of the ICL and Faculty of Arts of Palacký University; work at the Centre has culminated in The History of Czechoslovak Comics of the 20th Century (2014), and theoretical compendium In Panels and Speech Balloons (2015).
VLK also offers a programme for doctoral students, and its members give lectures at universities in Brno, Prague, and Olomouc.