End of this page section.

Begin of page section: Contents:

History of the Institute

On March 21, 1870, the classical philologist and Slavic language linguist Gregor Krek was appointed associate professor for Slavic Philology. The first Chair of Slavic Studies at the University of Graz – Krek represented the subject from 1875 as a full professor – was founded due to the efforts of the Chairs of Classical Philology, German Studies and Romance Studies (Italian studies) to close a gap in research and teaching on comparative historical linguistics. Additionally, it was argued that “the population of the Styrian lowlands largely belongs to the Slavic peoples and that many students with Slavic tongues from Carniola, Croatia, the coastal region and Dalmatia should be able to attend this university and still be given the opportunity to hear lectures on Slavic grammar and literature” (Höflechner, Die Geisteswissenschaftliche Fakultät, p. 48).

Krek's appointment marked the beginning of local academic Slavic studies, but Slovenian had already been represented much earlier at the University of Graz, especially since midwifery and medical studies courses (Anton Buck, Matthias Goriupp, Johann Kömm) had already been offered in Slovenian since the last quarter of the 18th century. At the instigation of the lawyer and founder of the scientific society Societas Slovenica, Johann Nepomuk Primitz (Janez Nepomuk Primic), the then Jesuit-led university was also granted permission to establish a three-year Chair of Slovenian in 1811. Primic himself held this chair from February 19, 1812, until he fell ill in autumn of 1813. In 1823, the theologist and lawyer Coloman Quass (Koloman Kvas), who until 1867 was employed at the university as an “extraordinary teacher of the Windian language” and “Chair of the Windian Language”, succeeded him. Theology (Matthias Robitsch, Josef Tosi) and law (Johann Kopatsch, Josef Krainz, Josef Michael Skedl) were also taught in Slovenian for some time after 1848.

On April 2, 1892, the Ministry of Culture and Education of the Austro-Hungarian Empire granted permission for the establishing of a seminar for Slavic Philology. In addition, funds were being made available for a “specialist library in the field of Slavic studies”. The new institute was housed on the 2nd floor of the main university building. It had two rooms and 4 tables with three work spaces each. The number of seminar members never dropped below ten in the first three years (Krones, Geschichte der Karl-Franzens-Universität, p. 64-65).

Based on political efforts in the Imperial Council of Vienna to create an extraordinary Slovenian professorship in Graz, Karel Štrekelj, a Slavic linguist and student of Miklošič, was appointed as associate professor “of Slavic Philology with a special focus on the Slovenian language and its literature” in October 1896. This made Slavic Studies the second modern philological discipline to receive a second professorship. The associate professorship was originally intended for Vatroslav Oblak, a student of Jagić, who had been teaching in Graz since 1894 but died before he could take up the position.

In 1902, after Krek's retirement, the classical philologist and Slavic language linguist Matija Murko was appointed Chair of Slavic Philology. Karel Štrekelj, who was appointed full professor in 1908 due to the looming threat of being recalled to Sofia, was succeeded in 1913 by Rajko Nahtigal, who specialised in Indo-European and Slavic studies. After Murko moved to the University of Leipzig, Nahtigal was appointed full professor in 1917. In December 1918, shortly after his habilitation, the linguist Fran Ramovš left Graz for Ljubljana to join a commission for the founding of a new university there. In 1919, Nahtigal also moved to the newly founded University of Ljubljana and participated in the establishment of a department of Slavonic studies there.

It was not until 1923 that the vacancy of both chairs ended and Heinrich Felix Schmid, a Slavic language linguist from Leipzig, was appointed to Chair of Slavic Philology; the second chair was discontinued. Schmid specialised in comparative Slavic legal history and legal terminology, and became a full professor in 1929. After the Nazis seized power, he was arrested, forced to retire and drafted into military service with the German Wehrmacht.

From 1941, the Indo-European and Slavic studies linguist Bernd von Armin taught Slavic studies, researching Old Bulgarian texts, Southern Slavic dialectology and astronomy. He was expecting a call to the University of Vienna, but was instead drafted into military service with the Wehrmacht in 1944 and died soon after his release as a prisoner of war.

In 1943, the habilitated Slavic language linguist and toponym researcher Simon Pirchegger was recalled to the University of Graz as an associate professor, after having been expelled from the university in 1934 due to his sympathising with Nazi ideology. In 1945, he was dismissed from the university once again.

Schmid returned to the University of Graz at the end of the Second World War, only to accept a professorship for Slavic Linguistics and Eastern European History at the University of Vienna in 1948. His student Josef Matl, who had written numerous works on comparative Slavic literary, cultural, social and intellectual history, particularly in Southeastern Europe and had elevated Graz to a centre for Balkan studies in the 1960s, was appointed his successor. Under the aegis of Matl, the seminar for Slavic Philology was briefly renamed the Institute for Slavic Studies and Southeast Research. In 1969, the Institute of Slavic Studies received its current name.

With the appointment of the Slavic language linguist Stanislaus Hafner in 1964, the “second” Chair of Slavic Studies was re-established. Hafner's research areas include Serbian medieval literature and the history of Austrian Slavonic studies. He was appointed full professor in 1967 and initiated the long-term project “Inventarisierung der slowenischen Volkssprache in Kärnten” (Inventory of the Slovenian vernacular in Carinthia) in 1975 together with Erich Prunč (who became an assistant at the Institute of Slavonic Studies in 1968), which was continued by Ludwig Karničar in 1989.

In 1968, Linda Sadnik was the first woman to be appointed to the Institute of Slavic Studies in Graz. A student and successor of Matl, she researched Old Church Slavonic and Old Bulgarian and is considered the founder of the “Graz School” (or Graz linguistic circle), from which Herbert Schelesniker (Innsbruck), Klaus Trost (Regensburg), Wolfgang Eismann (Oldenburg, Trier, Graz), Heinz Miklas (Vienna), Rudolf Aitzetmüller (Würzburg) and Harald Jaksche (Mannheim, Freiburg, Bern, Graz) emerged, among others.

New positions for young talents were created in the 1970s. Slavic language linguist Eleonore Ertl held one of these positions starting in 1970, followed by Southern Slavic language linguists Manfred Trummer (1971) and Wolfgang Steininger (1972), the Russian and Balkanologist August Maximilian Hendler (1976), Russicist Heinrich Pfandl (1978) and Russicist and Slovenian language linguist Ludwig Karničar (1979).

After the early retirement of Linda Sadnik in 1975, Harald Jaksche was appointed to the Chair of Slavic Philology in 1978. His primary research fields until his retirement in 1989 were contemporary Russian language and literature and also Church Slavonic.

In 1988, Wolfgang Eismann succeeded Stanislaus Hafner. He researched Slavic cultural, literary and intellectual history, in particular in Russia and the Southern Slavic countries, as well as on the theory of so-called small forms, Slavic phraseology and research of proverbs.

Erich Prunč, who habilitated in 1984, was appointed to the Chair of today's Institute of Translation Studies in 1988, an institute with which the Institute of Slavic Studies has been closely associated since it was founded in 1946.

After several intermediate locations, the institute finally moved into the “Wall” building in 1994. In these years, the institute again expanded its research and teaching profile with the semiotician and Slavic language linguist Peter Grzybek (1992) and the Russicist and West Slavic language linguist Peter Deutschmann (1995), who was appointed to the University of Salzburg in 2013.

In 1996, Branko Tošović was appointed Chair of Slavic Philology, which had been vacant since 1989. He conducts research on the contrastive linguistics and styles of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, and established the GRALIS research portal.

Renate Hansen-Kokoruš succeeded Wolfgang Eismann in 2009 as Professor of Slavic Studies (literary and cultural studies). She conducts research on modern Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Russian literature, film, intertextuality and questions of narratology.

Andreas Leben, who was appointed to the newly created Professorship for Slavic Studies (Slovenian Studies) in 2010, is currently teaching at the Institute of Slavic Studies along with Boban Arsenijević, who succeeded Branko Tošović in 2016 as Professor of Slavic Linguistics, and Sonja Koroliov, who was appointed to the three-year Professor of Slavic Studies (literary and cultural studies) after Renate Hansen-Kokoruš resigned in 2019.

In recent years, numerous young academics have been employed at the institute, including Emmerich Kelih, Elena Popovska, Arno Wonisch, Ingeborg Jandl, Dijana Simić, Agnieszka Będkowska-Kopczyk, Olesia Zalkowski, Claudia Mayr-Veselinović, Goran Lazičić, Anastasia Chuprina, Marko Simonović, Felix Kohl and Svitlana Antonjuk. The senior lecturers (currently Alexandra Gallen, Dagmar Gramshammer-Hohl), lecturers (currently Ivana Bulić, Mariya Donska, Tatjana Koren, Michaela Winkler), and foreign lecturers also contribute to research and teaching (the full current staff list can be viewed here).


Grzybek, Peter (2008): Slawistik in Graz / Slavistika v Gradcu (Slavic studies in Graz). Signal 2007/2008, p. 183-207.

Hafner, Stanislaus (1972): Die Slawistik an der Universität in Graz bis 1918 (Slavic studies at the University of Graz until 1918). Anzeiger für Slavische Philologie (Journal for Slavic Philology) 6, p. 4-13.

Hafner, Stanislaus (1985): Geschichte der österreichischen Slawistik (History of Austrian Slavic Studies). In: Hamm, Josef; Wytzrens, Günther (eds.): Beiträge zur Geschichte der Slawistik in nichtslawischen Ländern (Contributions to the history of Slavic studies in non-Slavic countries). Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, p. 11-88.

Höflechner, Walter (2005): Die Geisteswissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Graz zur Zeit von Gregor Krek (The Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Graz at the time of Gregor Krek). Anzeiger für Slavische Philologie (Journal for Slavic Philology) 33, p. 43-51.

Höflechner, Walter (2006): Geschichte der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. Von den Anfängen bis in das Jahr 2005 (History of the University of Graz. From the founding until 2005). Graz: Grazer Universitätsverlag, Leykam.

Kernbauer, Alois (2005): Gregor Krek und die Anfänge der Slawistik an der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Gregor Krek and the beginnings of Slavic studies at the University of Graz). Anzeiger für Slavische Philologie (Journal for Slavic Philology) 3, p. 53-70.

Krones, Franz von (1886): Geschichte der Karl-Franzens-Universität in Graz. Festgabe zur Feier ihres dreihundertjährigen Bestandes (History of the University of Graz. Commemorative publication to celebrate the university’s three-hundredth anniversary). Graz: Verlag der Karl-Franzens-Universität.

Reichmayr, Michael (2003): Ardigata! Krucinal! Ein slowenisches Schimpfwörterbuch, basierend auf Arbeiten von Josef Matl (1897-1974) zum deutsch-slawischen Sprach- und Kulturkontakt (Ardigata! Krucinal! A Slovenian swear word dictionary based on research by Josef Matl (1897-1974) on German-Slavic language and cultural contact.). With a preface by Paul Parin. Graz: Artikel-VII-Kulturverein für Steiermark.

Sadnik, Linda (1972): Die Slavistik an der Universität Graz nach 1918 (Slavic studies at the University of Graz until 1918). Anzeiger für Slavische Philologie (Journal for Slavic Philology) 6, p. 14-19.

Šumrada, Janez (2002): Janez Primic und die Gründung der ersten slowenistischen Lehrkanzel in Graz 1811 (Janez Primic and the foundation of the first Chair of Slovenian in Graz in 1811). Anzeiger für Slavische Philologie (Journal for Slavic Philology) 30, p. 7-20.

Trummer, Manfred: Geschichte 1919-1975 (History 1919-1975). URL: https://www-gewi.uni-graz.at/gralis/grazer_Slaw/Forschung/Geschichte/index.html


End of this page section.

Begin of page section: Additional information:

End of this page section.