The Literature Centre is an institution of the Estonian Academy of Science, which is a public research institution. It was formed in 1993 as the literature department of the Language and Literature Institute of the Academy of Sciences.
The Centre is an institution with an international scope for research on literature and culture. Its task is the investigation and theoretical modelling of Estonian-language written culture in its entirety and the multilingual Baltic-German culture from earlier eras, thereby making the historical Baltic and the later Estonian realm of written culture visible, interesting and open to comparison with similar realms in international scholarship.
Main research directions
- Study of Baltic written culture in Estonia in a broad temporal perspective beginning with 13th century Latin and German chronicles up to and including the beginning of the 21st century.
- Study of 19th–21st century Estonian literature, which previously belonged to, Baltic German written culture, but later developed in conscious ideological and aesthetic opposition to it.
- Research on global Estonian written culture. The primary research question is to what extent the culture of Estonians abroad influenced the intellectual globalisation of Estonian culture, and to what extent, instead, it encouraged self-encapsulation; several other questions branch out from this one.
- Study of the process of modernisation in Estonian culture at the beginning of the 20th century, which was accompanied by the intensive transfer of western cultural influences into an Estonian-language medium.
- Historical analysis of Estonian culture in the context of Baltic literary space.
- Study of texts from different genres. Besides belles lettres and drama, the Literature Centre focuses on various forms of text composition: historiographic, philosophical, journalistic, education, and everyday life.
- Developing a theoretical basis for interdisciplinarity in the study of literature and culture.
The Literature Centre publishes original research and source materials on Estonian national literature and the humanities; curates a collection of historically valuable books and art; organises conferences, exhibitions, and other events.
The Literature Centreʼs Museum is the holder of the property of writer Friedebert Tuglas (1986–1971), which he bequeathed to the Estonian Academy of Science. It was Tuglasʼ wish that a small museum and research centre be founded in his home, where the literary couple Marie Under and Artur Adson had lived before the war. Today the Literature Centreʼs Museum is located in this building. From the outset, in addition to overseeing writersʼ bequests, the Centre has engaged in cultural research in the broadest possible sense. However, the intellectual and material legacy of Under, Adson, and the Tuglasʼs has continued to undergird the Centreʼs activities in many ways. Currently, in addition to the libraries and art collections of Tuglas, Artur Adson and Marie Under, the Centre is also the depository of the art collection of the Estonian Cultural Foundation of the USA, and the library and art collection of Paul Reets.