About the project

Remembering Literature in Everyday Life (ReLEL or PoKUS in Croatian) is an Installation Research Project financed by the Croatian Science Foundation. It is being implemented at the Department of Comparative Literature within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zagreb University. It started on March 1, 2021, and its projected duration is five years.

As with any other Croatian Science Foundation's Installation Research Project, ReLEL was started with the general goal of supporting "the development of autonomous research careers of young scientists in its crucial stage, when they are capable of establishing a new research group that would deal with internationally competitive and/or nationally relevant scientific topics" (from the project call UIP-2020-02). The project will therefore involve three researchers who are in relatively early stages of their respective academic careers (an assistant professor, a postdoc and a PhD student).

The specific goal of the project is to comprehensively identify and interpret facts about the memory of literature in everyday life, with a focus on non-professional readers in Croatia. The methodological starting point of the research is a large number of semi-structured interviews with numerous participants (about a thousand respondents from various parts of Croatia). Based on that archive, the various aspects of readers' experiences and the textual transformations present in their memories are to be analyzed according to the interests and competencies of the research group members.

The analyses shall be conducted in three directions which are complementary to the secondary project goals. The first direction will lead to determining which elements of literary texts are remembered best and most often, and conversely those which are forgotten most completely and most often. The second direction will lead to identifying and describing the presence of literary texts in Croatian citizens' everyday lives, and potentially their application in a non-professional context. The third direction will lead to studying specific instances of collective memory of literature on selected samples.

The largest direct scientific contribution of the project will be to empirically validate knowledge about everyday readers of literature, which is still mostly lacking in literary studies at the moment. The importance of that knowledge might me appropriately expressed by paraphrasing Tzvetan Todorov, who in 1980 wrote that nothing is known less than the everyday reading experience, which in turn lies at the root of everything we can know about literature. ReLEL will therefore utilizes the voices of Croatian readers - literally and metaphorically - to try and create a more definite outline of the 99% of the total numbers people who read literature.

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