European cultural tradition is the foundation of contemporary European culture. This tradition covers a long time span, from the 2nd millennium BC to today, and a vast geographical area, from the ancient Near East and Mediterranean region to the British Isles and northern Scandinavia. To understand the roots of contemporary culture, languages and literature, we focus on European languages and cultures from the Greco-Roman antiquity and ancient Scandinavia through the Middle Ages and the early modern period to the 19th century. On topics like the reception and development of ancient and mediaeval literary heritage, we use diachronic approaches and work with researchers who focus on the 20th and 21st century. When researching the culture of antiquity or the Middle Ages synchronically, we collaborate with historians and religious studies scholars, as well as colleagues from philosophy and literary studies.
This cluster includes the study of the transmission and reception of ancient Greek and Latin languages and Greek and Roman culture from late antiquity and its Christian authors through the Middle Ages (especially Latin) to the Renaissance and the early modern period. The Department of Classical Studies is a member of CAEMC (International Research Center of Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Cultures) and collaborates with the Research Centre of the University of Tartu Library and its researchers who work on the early modern period, as well as with the international university network “Colloquium Balticum”, dedicated to the study of antiquity and its reception in the Baltic Sea area. Many researchers participate in the work of international organisations, such as the International Association of Neo-Latin Studies, the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, and the Renaissance Society of America. Our research projects include the study of Neo-Latin literature in Estonia, especially Tartu (including the aspect of multilingualism), the study of Humanist Greek literature in Europe, the poetics of the Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early modern period, the study of Humanism and Neo-Humanism, the study of terminology and use of classical names, and the reception of classical literature and myth in modern visual arts and media.
This cluster is dedicated to the study of classical antiquity, which mainly focuses on two topics. On the one hand, the cluster researches Greek and Roman metrics and stylistics, and more broadly, ancient poetics and rhetoric, in collaboration with the School of Theology. On the other hand, we study ancient literature (especially lyric poetry and drama, but also prose, such as the novel and rhetorical writers). In our research on ancient culture and the history of ideas we collaborate with the Department of Philosophy, the Department of General History, CAEMC (International Research Center of Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Cultures), as well as the international university network “Colloquium Balticum”, dedicated to the study of antiquity and its reception in the Baltic Sea area. Some members of our department also focus on the study of linguistics, for example syntax.
Our cluster at the Department of Scandinavian Studies researches European culture during the Middle Ages, with special attention to Old Norse studies. We currently focus on two projects: “Viking Dynasties – The Royal Families of Lejre and Uppsala between Archaeology and Text” (KrogagerFonden (Denmark) grant) and “Formulae in Icelandic Saga Literature” (UT baseline funding led by Professor Daniel Sävborg, with PhD student Kait Sepp and MA student Anastasia Tishunina as participants). Past projects include the study of supernatural and folkloristic motifs in medieval Scandinavian literature and tradition (“Encountering the Otherworld in Medieval Nordic Literature – New Perspectives” (Estonian Research Council grant, 2014–2018); translated literature in 13th-century Norway and Iceland; love and emotions in Old Norse literature; manuscript variation in the Scandinavian Middle Ages with a special focus on the Icelandic manuscripts of Snorra Edda, and interdisciplinarity in Viking Age studies.
Our cluster studies the history of European culture and education, with special attention to teaching Greek and Latin in the schools of Estonia from the end of the 16th to the 19th century, the history of Tartu and Tartu-Pärnu Academy under the Swedish rule (1632-1710), the new creation of the University of Tartu in the 19th century, and the impact of its first professor of classical philology, Karl Morgenstern, and his Neo-Humanist ideas. We collaborate closely with the University of Tartu museums, the University of Tartu Library and colleagues from other institutes. In some of the clusters, the main focus of research is more on the education and the ideas in general (e.g. Classical studies, Scandinavian studies), but all departments study their own history (e.g. colleagues in the Department of English study teaching English etc).
The Department of Classical Studies has studied translation from classical languages since the end of the 20th century, with projects dedicated to gathering the earlier translations as well as creating bibliographies and databases (http://philologic.ut.ee/). These translations have been studied from different aspects, such as translation type, metrics, syntax, lexica, using various approaches from modern translation theories. They have also been used as a means to study contrastive linguistics.