Throughout central and eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria), classical rhetorical studies pertain to a longstanding tradition of research on antiquity, while contemporary rhetoric scholarship focuses on democratic discourse and the political context in postcommunist times. A major challenge throughout the area is the diffused location of both classical and contemporary (postcommunist) rhetorical research. National academies of sciences along with classical philosophy and philology university programs host most classical and medieval rhetoric research. Scholarship on contemporary rhetorical discourse and political rhetoric can be located under postcommunist studies and philology. Since the fall of communism (1989), rhetorical practices of debate and democratic discourse are also part of postcommunist studies. Rhetoric as a general subject matter is embedded in humanities under programs such as classical studies, philology, linguistics, history, history of literature, ancient history, and classical philosophy. International democratic organizations sponsor new alliances with local, national, or international scope that acknowledge the role of debate and rhetoric for civic engagement, political awareness, and social change.
Important challenges for the study of rhetoric (both classical and contemporary) are shared throughout central and eastern Europe, such as (1) the scarcity of higher education or high school programs that incorporate rhetorical studies (Slovenia, Poland); (2) the diffused location of rhetorical scholarship within national research institutions inherited from the communist past (applicable to all central and eastern European countries listed); (3) problematic access to bibliographical resources or scholarship due to lack of translated materials; (4) terminology inherited from communist times; and (5) difficult international access to information or location of scholarship associated with the history of rhetoric in some countries, due to communist past and regulations. Almost absent as scholarship in the region are deliberative rhetoric and communist rhetoric.
Classical And Medieval Rhetoric In Higher Education
Most higher education programs in classical studies include classical rhetoric as textual/ literary studies within the Greek and Latin programs specific to each university. Natunewicz provides detailed information on the large number of classical scholarship programs for each country of the region in the listings part of the Central and Eastern European Classical Scholarship (CEECS) network (www.ceecs.net).
The three main programs that locate “rhetoric” as a subject matter for study and scholarship are Slovenia (University of Primorska, University of Nova Gorica), Poland (Center for Studies on the Classical Tradition in Poland and East-Central Europe [OBTA]), and Bulgaria (Department of Rhetoric, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sofia). Based on the profiles of the programs listed above, rhetorical studies signifies rhetoric and pragmatics (Slovenia), classical and medieval rhetoric (Poland), and philosophical or political rhetoric (Bulgaria). The University of Sofia, Bulgaria, lists its Department of Rhetoric as part of the Faculty of Philosophy. The umbrella term “rhetoric” does not explicate methodological or theoretical approaches specific to the mission of the Department. “Faculty” translates for American academic structures as “college” or “school.” The Bulgarian example is indicative of the general tendency to utilize such terminology describing academic structures of higher education in the area.
Most national universities in the Czech Republic (Prague, Brno), Romania (Bucharest, Iassi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara), Bulgaria (Sofia), Hungary (Budapest), and Slovenia (Ljubljana) have centers or departments dedicated to classical studies, classical philosophy, and classical philology. Such centers and departments feature undergraduate and graduate programs in direct or indirect relation to rhetorical studies, as part of the higher education curricula approved at the level of the national education department or ministry. Depending on the country, the uneven presence of rhetorical research creates difficulty in locating the term and the discipline of “rhetoric” under certain disciplinary studies in multiple departments or university programs.
At the high school level, following an educational tradition of over 50 years, Latin language and literature is part of the humanities high school four-year curriculum in most central and eastern European countries, with requirements set by each national ministry or department of education. For instance, the Romanian high school curriculum (four consecutive years) comprises ancient rhetorical texts to be studied as part of the Latin language and literature requirement. Starting in 2006, the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research introduced Latin language and literature focused on several religious texts from ancient and medieval times. Unique in the region, Slovenia recently included rhetoric as part of the secondary school curriculum (eighth and ninth grades).
Classical And Medieval Rhetoric Research
In all central and eastern European countries, academies of sciences validate most prestigious scholarship produced at national level. All institutes and centers under the auspices of national academies of sciences share similar formats throughout the region.
Postdoctoral and highly specialized research is organized under different names (institutes, sections, or committees), inheriting the communist format for specialized scholarship. Each national academy of sciences has its own publishing house, thus endorsing the highest levels of research. Accordingly, under the seal of each academy of sciences, numerous publications (in different formats) feature specialized research. Due to coexisting structures from the communist past, knowing the history of publishing houses in the area becomes an imperative for international scholars. Currently, some university press publications in the area announce broader scope for publishing textbooks and graduate work.
In all academies of sciences (Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria) “rhetoric” as a discipline is part of philosophical or philological institutes, depending on the research projects accepted. While the research produced in communist times can add important explorations beneficial to international scholarship, few classical studies produced in communist times have been translated into either English or any other international language. Kumaniecki (1967), in an indicative presentation on classical philology in Poland covering 1945–1965, attests to the wealth of scholarship, while rhetoric remains mostly an embedded focus.
Access to research produced during communism remains more problematic, due to previous political regulations or for translation reasons. Depending on the country, most communist publications require extensive library investigation to find rhetorical scholarship, translations of rhetorical texts, and specific studies on the rhetorical tradition. However, a wealth of both classical and philological research materials has been produced by national academies of sciences and/or university presses in the past 50 years. It is important to note that such materials require both language fluency and understanding of the political and pedagogical past in order to make successful advances in scholarship on specific rhetorical subject matters. National library archives in different countries inherit policies and resources based on the distinct political past of each country. For instance, pre-1989, library access to Byzantine original texts in Romania was under strict censorship laws, hence there is a scarcity of rhetorical research available for continuation of scholarship.
In order to locate classical rhetorical scholarship produced in conjunction with national academies of sciences, Natunewicz (2000) provides a detailed description of most classical studies programs in the region. Among them, for the Czech Republic, rhetorical scholarship can pertain to the Section of Humanities and Philosophy, Historical Sciences or research produced at the Institute for Classical Studies or the Institute of Philosophy. To name a few Czech Academy of Sciences publications, there are Philological Letters, Eirene, Folia Philologica, and Philosophical Journal. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences lists institutes focused on studies of classical times and, by extension, on the rhetorical tradition. Among them are the Institute for Literature, the Institute for Philological Studies, and the Institute of History. The Romanian Academy (of Sciences) includes large research sections related to classical studies, among which are philology and literature, arts, architecture and audiovisual, historical sciences, and archaeology. The Romanian Academy publication Classical Studies is considered the most prestigious national publication on Greek and Roman/Latin studies, in print for the past 50 years. In addition, 40 other serial, periodical, and commemorative publications are listed under classical scholarship. The Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) houses the Committee for Studies on Ancient Culture, along with numerous other committees and institutes related to classical studies. Of international note is the longstanding publication Journal of Juristic Papyrology. In 1994, after the fall of communism, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences announced its status as the national research entity aligned with the rest of the academies of sciences in the region. Rhetoric as part of classical studies can be found in projects related to philological endeavors. Part of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is the Institute of Philosophy, where there is a Research Group on Communication. The University of Leipzig, once a part of the former East German Republic, hosts rhetorical studies focused on style and literary tradition, at the Institute of Classical Philology.
Medieval rhetoric can be studied within the Czech Academy of Sciences, Center for Medieval Studies; or in Poland, at OBTA, among others.
Contemporary Rhetorical Studies
Deeply connected to the development of postcommunist studies in the last decade of the twentieth century, scholarship focusing on rhetoric and democratic discourse has become of academic interest throughout the region. Complex theoretical approaches (rhetoric and culture, critical discourse analysis, political rhetoric, among others) create novel and exciting scholarship on the function of rhetoric in postcommunist times to create civic engagement and social change.
Since 1989, a plethora of new academic institutions have pursued research on political, historical, philological, and philosophical studies related to communist and postcommunist societies in central and eastern Europe. Hosted by national academic centers as multinational research projects, rhetorical scholarship brings forth political and civic discourse as part of postcommunist studies in the humanities. Of note are postcommunist academic institutions such as the New Europe College (NEC-Romania) and the Central European University (CEU-Hungary). NGOs, democratic and civil organizations, associations, and alliances at local, national, and international levels feature debate, argumentation, and rhetoric as practical venues to create civic awareness for social change throughout the area.
Extremely important for the development of rhetorical studies in postcommunist times is open access and exchange of scholarship related to classical and current rhetorical studies. After 1990, multiple conferences and symposia have been organized to emphasize contemporary rhetoric and its impact on democracy. In the past decade, several international organizations, associations, and centers have featured rhetoric and democratic discourse as part of research programs and/or projects. Among such multinational alliances are OBTA at Warsaw University, the Center for Rhetorical Studies at the University of Cape Town, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the International Society for the History of Rhetoric. In recent times, Advances in the History of Rhetoric has published annually rhetorical scholarship on the region (e.g., Marin 2004, 2006; Ornatowski 2005, 2006).
Research on postcommunist discourse is also part of the International Pragmatics Association conferences, incorporating central and eastern European pragmatics and critical discourse analysis. Similarly, engaging scholarship on argumentation and postcommunist rhetoric is part of international conferences and publications hosted by the International Society for the Study of Argumentation.
Since 1995, most central and eastern European countries joined with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) to form regional and national organizations that promote democratic education through rhetorical practices of debate and argumentation.
- Axer, J. (ed.) (2003). Rhetoric of transformation. Warsaw: Warsaw University Press.
- Kumaniecki, K. (1967). Twenty years of classical philology in Poland (1945–1965). Greece and Rome, 14, 61–75.
- Marin, N. (2004). Rhetoric at the gates of revolution: Romanian presidential discourse in translation. Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 7, 293–312.
- Marin, N. (2006). The other side(s) of history: The return of rhetoric. Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 9, 209–225.
- Marin, N. (2007). After the fall: Rhetoric in the aftermath of dissent in post-communist times. New York: Peter Lang.
- Natunewicz, C. F. (2000). Classical studies in central and eastern Europe. Sarmatian Review, 20(2). At www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/400/natunewicz.html, accessed September 29, 2007.
- Ornatowski, C. M. (2005). “I leapt over the wall, and they made me president”: Historical context, rhetorical agency, and the amazing career of Lech Walesa. Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 8, 155–192.
- Ornatowski, C. M. (2006). Rhetoric and the subject of/in history: Reflections on political transformation. Advances in the History of Rhetoric, 9, 187–207.
- Riley, K. K. (2007). Everyday subversion: From joking to revolting in the German Democratic Republic. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.