The History of the Project


The project for studying literary periodicals, entitled “The History of Serbian Literary Periodicals”, was initiated in 1970 within the framework of the Institute for Literature and Art in Belgrade, and has continued to the present day, occasionally slightly changing its name. Owing to its scientific-research tradition of 42 years, this project, along with the project of the British Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, represents a pioneering undertaking when it comes to a systematic investigation of this area in a broader international context.

The initiative for getting this project aimed at studying literary periodicals under way dates from 1969, and came from the editorial staff of Književna istorija [Literary History], a specialised Institute periodical dedicated to studying literary history and theory, initiated the previous year. The Editor-in-Chief of Književna istorija at the time was Aleksandar Petrov, and the editorial staff included Jovan Deretić, Vaso Milinčević, Mirjana Miočinović-Kiš, Marija Mitrović and Miodrag Sibinović. During the course of 1970 and 1971, the scientific-research unit “The History of Serbian Literary Periodicals” was formed, comprising, apart from Aleksandar Petrov, as the initiator and the first Head of the project, Vladimir Jovičić and the then Professors of the Faculty of Philology of Belgrade University Jovan Deretić and Vaso Milinčević. The four of them compiled a theoretical-methodological platform, determined the research corpus and proposed the periodisation framework for researching this newly created research area; they published this in the form of a programmatic text entitled A Development Plan for a History of Serbian Literary Periodicals. This Development Plan was first elaborated upon on the basis of discussions conducted at the Institute with the project collaborators (Dragiša Vitošević, Vida Golubović and Dušan Ivanić), following which a public scientific conference was held on 26th June 1973 at the Writers’ Association of Serbia; apart from the authors of the Development Plan and the project members, the participants included the most distinguished scholars in this sphere and university professors from various cities of the former Yugoslavia – Milorad Pavić, Raško Jovanović, Muhsin Rizvić, Aleksandar Pejović, Franjo Grčević, Branko Milanović, Miroslav Vaupotić and Radovan Vuković.

The Development Plan consisted of five chapters which defined (1) the basic notions of this new research area – the designation of periodicals, encompassing a distinction in relation to the literary notion of periodicals and the national designation of literary periodicals. Also defined was (2) the structure of the history of Serbian literary periodicals, the focus being on (3) the periodisation of periodicals in terms of epochs (encompassing the period starting from the year 1768, when Славеносербски магазин [The Slavic-Serbian Magazine] appeared, until 1968, the latter being the final year before the initiation of the project, divided into ten periodisation wholes); finally, (4) the principles of studying periodicals and papers were formulated. The Development Plan concludes with an explanation of (5) the objectives and significance of The History of Serbian Literary Periodicals for studying our cultural heritage.

Apart from this Development Plan, in the earliest phase of the development of the project, an important role in the profiling of the theoretical-methodological platform of the research was played by Dušan Ivanić, owing to his text “On the Nature of Periodicals”, and by Dragiša Vitošević, through his text “Notes on Dealing with Periodicals”, which, together with the Development Plan and a public debate about it, were published in an issue of Literary History in 1973. Ten years later, Dragiša Vitošević and Đorđije Vuković, in their text entitled A Questionnaire, further developed the programmatic foundation of the project through a succession of questions organised in twenty-five short chapters, systematising and supplementing the research platform proposed in the Development Plan. With some minor changes, the theoretical-methodological programme of the project thus formulated has remained in effect to the present day.

The periodical Književna istorija has played a crucial role in this, not only when it came to initiating and establishing this project, but also for promoting and affirming this new research area. The first public appearance of the collaborators on the project The History of the Serbian Literary Periodicals took place in 1969, within the framework of a cycle of lectures entitled “Periodicals as a Form of Literary Life”, held at the Youth Hall in Belgrade, and immediately after that Književna istorija dedicated an entire issue to this topic, publishing six lectures from this cycle. Staring with issue no. 6 for 1969, a regular column entitled “Literary Periodicals” was introduced, and occasionally monographic studies were published on magazines and other periodical publications. This tradition of studying periodicals has remained a regular feature of Književna istorija from the time when it was edited by Aleksandar Petrov, who initiated the periodical and the project, and later on, when it was edited by Jovan Deretić, Dušan Ivanić and Miodrag Maticki, all of whom were also collaborators on the project.

During the period of its development, the project for studying literary periodicals has passed through several cycles. After Aleksandar Petrov had been managing the project The History of Serbian Literary Periodicals for seventeen years, from 1987 to 2006 the project was managed by Miodrag Maticki, and from 2006 to the present day (under the changed titles of The Place and the Role of Periodicals in the History of Recent Serbian Literature and The Role of Serbian Periodicals in the Formation of Literary, Cultural and National Models respectively), the project has been managed by Vesna Matović.

Over the course of four decades, around fifty scientific researchers have worked and collaborated on the project, dozens of national, regional and international scientific conferences have been held, and the results of the project have been detailed in a voluminous bibliography comprising over thirty monographs, thirteen collections of papers, three phototype editions, more than twenty bibliographies of periodicals, and around three hundred and fifty individual studies, essays and articles. The project has realised a part of its research and production in cooperation with prestigious cultural institutions – Matica srpska [the Serbian Cultural Society] from Novi Sad and the National Library from Belgrade.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute for Literature and Art and the forty-second anniversary of the project for studying Serbian literary periodicals, in 2012 a large retrospective exhibition on the research results of this product, entitled Re/vision: Periodicals as Agents of Literature and Culture was organised.