The paper focuses on selected folklorist and ethnological activities during the inter-war period, financially supported by the Board for the Research of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was established on the initiative of T. G. Masaryk as part of the newly created Slavic Institute in Prague in 1928. This institution aimed to support links between Slovakia and the so-called Czech historical lands and the expressions of “mutuality” in the scientific, cultural or ethnic and language area, etc. The Board provided grants for conducting dialectological, folklorist, geographical and other projects, e.g. for the collection initiative of F. Wollman and his students in Bratislava and Brno in 1928–1947, covering Slovak and (yet unprocessed) Moravian folk fiction. Support was also granted to the research of music culture (D. Orel, K. Hudec, F. Zagriba, etc.), the collection of anthropological and ethnographical materials (K. Chotek, K. Domin, etc.), the study of Slovak folk embroidery (V. Pražák), folklore customs and practices (P. Bogatyrev), folk wood architecture (V. Sičynskyj, D. Stránská), Slovak dialects studied, for example, by V. Vážný, member of the Board, etc. The Slovak Encyclopaedia project, today already forgotten, was not completed. Its editors included historian V. Chaloupecký and, in particular, K. Chotek who prepared the concept of the work in 1930.
The paper explores possibilities of a more intensive use of comparative literature within literary education in which the adoration of national literature prevails together with the abstraction of the concept of world literature. This means putting more emphasis on area and comparative approaches. Emphasising comparative literature may bring in a search and respect for otherness, since it is not connected to any national language and literature, to any concrete tradition and culture, but refers to their variability, with the aim of explaining the contact with the other, which can be close as well as different. More effort should be put especially on the attempt to point to the interconnectedness and mutual influencing. The so-called educational, didactically applied comparatistics is a field of comparative literary studies aimed at overcoming binary, ethnolinguistic opposition of “the national” and “the worldly” in education, and, as far as literary education is concerned, it could become a new methodological stimulus. As a methodological basis of this educational comparative studies is being used the hermeneutic understanding of otherness, though not the interculturally remote one, but a close otherness which exists, for example, in the intertextuality of a particular work emerging within the framework of the “neighbourhood” of common Central European area. What is meant here is, first of all, the so-called innovated imagology, concentrated on the interpretation of images by means of which verbal text renders foreign countries and nations. The overall meaning of imagological impulses can also be seen on the weakening of the opposition of the traditional categories of “national” and “world”, as well as in the overcoming of the ideas of some cultures being more developed at the expense of other ones. Applying the area and comparative approach, educational comparative studies may facilitate the dialogue of literature as art also with other spheres, and have integrating as well as didactic function, or develop the feeling of mutuality and the ability to “compare”, not only in linguistic and ethnic circumstances, but in the value-contextual ones as well.
The aim of the authors is to respond to the growing demands on the intercultural competence of university teachers due to intensified internationalization pressures on higher education, especially due to the growing number of students and teachers’ international exchanges. They report on an intercultural course design responding to this need, presenting a case study from Slovakia. First, they define the need of intercultural competence of university teachers, especially those teaching in English-medium study programmes. Then they share a) findings from a needs analysis preceding the design of a new curriculum for an intercultural competence course (ICC) at Matej Bel University (MBU) with three aims (development of linguistic, cultural and pedagogic competences); and b) results from action research during piloting the ICC course. A comparison of 2011 and 2018 surveys pointed to the growing dominance of the English language, including an increasing command of English by MBU teachers. The ICC curriculum, tailored to the pre-identified teachers’ needs, proved to be a feasible way of facilitating their intercultural competence. Its implementation revealed persistent prejudices and difficulties associated with overcoming them. It also confirmed a significant deficit in preparing university teachers for their role as intercultural mediators in English-medium courses.
In Slovakia, modern Cultural Studies of English-speaking countries have been integrated into university curricula since the 1990s. However, there is a fundamental difference in the role CLIL plays in teaching “realia” (alternatively: cultural studies, country studies and area studies) for philological students and for business students of non-philological faculties. While philological students study realia with primary linguistic and cultural goals (i.e. to learn new words, terminology, context and comparative cultural aspects), non-philological students’ goals are business oriented (i.e. allow a successful graduate to function effectively in a new business environment). That affects the methodology, teaching procedure and assessment of both disciplines in debate.