“To assert itself, 
a society needs a consistent project for culture and science” (Manuel Antunes)

CLEPUL 
CENTRE FOR LUSOPHONE AND EUROPEAN LITERATURES AND CULTURES OF THE FACULTY OF LETTERS, UNIVERSITY OF LISBON

CLEPUL is one the oldest Portuguese Research Units dedicated to literary studies, with the same age as Democracy in Portugal. It’s integrated, since 2010, in the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, and is funded by the FCT – Foundation of Science and Technology, previously known as National Board of Scientific Research (JNICT). It’s the first national Centre directed by a Researcher (of the Science Program, 2008).

The Centre was founded by Professor Jacinto Prado Coelho in the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution, commonly known as the Democratic Revolution of April 25th, under the name Centre for Portuguese Literatures of the University of Lisbon, pioneering the research made on Lusophone Literatures, thus contributing for the integration of this theme in Portuguese academy as a specialization area. Also innovative was the way it combined the tradition of philological studies with new structuralist proposals and Sociology of Reading, which, at the time, thrilled central Europe.

Therefore, early projects corresponded to the ideas expressed in this name: the study of different Literatures in the Portuguese Language (Portuguese Literature, highlighting Camillian studies, as well as African and Brazilian Literatures) and the problematic of Sociology of Reading (directed by Jacinto Prado Coelho, this was one of the earliest and most innovative research and publishing projects then undertaken with the support of JNICT).

The route mapped out with the Centre’s foundation was continued by its subsequent leaderships (Fernando Cristóvão, Maria Lúcia Lepecki, Manuel Ferreira, Alberto Carvalho and Maria de Lourdes Ferraz), affirming and strengthening CLEPUL’s role among national R&D units.

At the beginning of the new millennium, with the transformation of European cultural policies, technological resources and scientific perspectives, CLEPUL faced these new challenges under the direction of Annabela Rita, José Eduardo Franco, and now under Ernesto Rodrigues transforming CLEPUL’s research horizons (from Literature to the Arts, Sciences and Culture in general, from Lusophony to Europe, from essayistic works to its articulation with literary and artistic creation), as well as its strategy of scientific and cultural policy and its critical mass.

Initial research fields remained active (especially on Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queirós and Father António Vieira, Portuguese literature, and other great Lusophone authors, besides editions of unpublished sources and reference works, including the complete works of great figures in the History of Portuguese Culture), but this was also expanded, due to the dialogue of knowledge among Lusophone and European cultures, to emerging areas such as Interartistic studies (coordinated by Annabela Rita) or cultural imaginaries (coordinated by José Eduardo Franco), as well as the field of interculturality of the Iberian world and the Slavic world (coordinated by Béata Ciezynska). The original specific attention to sociological circumstances of reading Portuguese Literature has persisted and was transformed, in a way, to also deal with the didactics of Literature and young people’s Literature; on the other hand, it has also developed work on oral and traditional literatures and cultures, and has welcomed reflections on entrepreneurship, considering it one of the engines of Portuguese innovation and culture.

The subject of national and transnational aesthetics and cultural identities enshrined in the Centre’s denomination began to conduct all reflections, uniting diversity and multiplicity of a collective or more individual research. The name change (to Centre for Lusophone and European Literatures and Cultures), voted by the Scientific Committee in 2009, while retaining the previous acronym, represented the Centre’s history and its new scientific reality.

Throughout the first decade of the XXI century, CLEPUL significantly grew with the arrival of a great number of researchers from other areas of the social sciences and humanities, founded 7 Poles on other Portuguese and foreign universities (such as in Brazil) linked to Research Groups sharing greater similarities and synergies, established a wide network for scientific exchange and began to excel through the combination of large-scale initiatives (collective works and international conferences, pioneers in their transversal approach and the systematics of inter and multidisciplinary approach) and others in a smaller format (individual works, critical anthologies, authors’ editions), highlighting the innovative movement of the Letras Com Vida Gatherings (an interinstitutional platform comprising about thirty institutions, at the origin of the magazine with the same title, whose flexibility has become its brand image), small seminars for discussion and dissemination with experts, bridging the gap between academia and society and promoting the transmission of knowledge, besides being a testing laboratory for essays and reflections.

The quality, quantity and diversity of CLEPUL’s scientific outputs and work developed by the Centre (including the online library LusoSofia-Lusofonia) have earned the recognition within and beyond borders, also contributing to the participation of its members in literary awards juries, the creation of its own literary award (the Jorge de Sena Prize) and a Medal of Cultural Merit (attributed to various national personalities, including to every CLEPUL director preceding José Eduardo Franco).

In recent years, the Centre has promoted the training of young researchers (even creating the Scipionic Circle – Young Researchers Academy) through their integration into its Complete Works projects (Manuel Antunes, Mário Martins, Diogo de Teive, Fernão de Oliveira, etc.) and seminars. CLEPUL is today one of the largest research centres in Portugal and the one with the largest number of young researchers integrated in projects and occupying positions of responsibility.

CLEPUL gained a particular spotlight by winning the leadership of the preparation and publication of the Vieira Global project, which includes publishing, for the first time, the Complete Works of Father António Vieira, the "Emperor of the Portuguese Language" (as Fernando Pessoa called him), a 30 volume project with an astounding number of unpublished documents, found in a long trail of international archival research.

CLEPUL has generated creative dynamics of new institutions directed towards the development and promotion of specific cultural areas, such as the International Society for Iberian-Slavonic Studies – CompaRes and the European Institute of Cultural Sciences Padre Manuel Antunes, as well as the research band research Ai Deus i u é, at same time developing a more consistent strategy for institutional partnerships for strengthening its inscription in some of its areas of interest: The Portuguese Society of Authors (in the Letras Com Vida Gatherings) and the Mozart Choir, signaling the attention to the aesthetic dialogue in its broadest sense, but also the Observatory of Politics, recognizing its cultural importance, among others.

CLEPUL’s strategy of scientific policy, promoting and involving researchers from across Portugal and abroad in its scientific initiatives, has led other research centres of a similar nature from other universities to join CLEPUL, and constituting themselves as Poles based in their respective universities, growing in size and critical mass.

Currently, CLEPUL has more than 500 researchers distributed by 8 Research Groups and 5 Poles, which develop, in interaction with a vast network of national and international relations firmed by cooperation protocols, research on many areas of Literary Studies and the History of Culture, from Algarve in the South, to Porto up North, to the Atlantic Islands, such as Madeira, from Australia to Canada, keeping privileged relations with the Lusophone countries, particularly with Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and Guinea-Bissau.

The scope of some of CLEPUL’s initiatives had, moreover, the effect of creating templates and models going beyond the traditional boundaries of the sphere of influence of the Centre: the Historical Dictionary of the Orders and the Dictionary of the Antis are already being developed in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and France; accordingly, we must note the great projection of The Complete Works of Father António Vieira, the Letras com Vida Gatherings, the well-attended annual events presenting great works at the Rectory of the University of Lisbon and in other rectories, centres and faculties of Portuguese and foreign universities, and also the connection established with secondary education (the Pedro Nunes Secondary School); and the way the dialogue between the Literature and Medicine is now also observed within the teaching of Literature (due to the International Colloquium "Medicine and Narrative: Illness and Dialogue" (2010), the "Narrative and Medicine 2011" conferences, etc.).

In is development, CLEPUL has shown to follow, and in some cases anticipate, Portuguese and European principles, values, and scientific guidelines: increased critical mass, interdisciplinarity, interinstitutionality, internationality and intergenerationality.

CLEPUL works according to the following ideary:

“To assert itself, a society needs a consistent project for culture and science” (Manuel Antunes)