Comparatists from the Former Yugoslav Republics United in Skopje

Milos Ilic photo - front-

Photograph taken by: Milos Ilic

The students at the Department of General and Comparative Literature from Skopje, Macedonia had the honor to host their colleagues from Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia and from Zagreb, Croatia. It was the first students union of comparatists on the level of Ex Yugoslavian countries. The event – organized for less than a month! The energy – you should have been there as a true comapratist to feel it. The organizers: the students themselves! All they needed was will, love and enthusiasms.

Literature is important, as it is always present to feed the other branches of the society.  Comparatists are among the rare agents of society today whose focus would not necessarily orbit around profit. It’s the profession which aims to truly embrace what is humane. Profound interest and knowledge in books, cultures, tremendous curiosity to all social phenomena – those would be just few characteristics that could pin down the comparatists.

The gathering took place from 12 to 15 of April in Skopje, Macedonia. And this is just the beginning of the adventures. Next destination should be Zagreb, Croatia! Here are some highlights from part of the organizing team!

1. What was the reason for this gathering?

Andrea Kocev (part of organizing team): There are few reasons why this gathering was conducted. Some of the reasons have academic origin or in other words, the aim to compare the curricula and what is being taught here in Skopje, and what is being taught in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zagreb. We wanted to have the students from Sarajevo as well in the gathering, but hopefully they will join us next time. As well, we wanted to scope the different approaches to comparative literature, to exchange contacts with colleagues coming from the region and hopefully to assure serious collaborations in the future in the field of Literature and culture in general. Finally, there was this exquisite wish to get to know each other!

Milos Ilic photo - Studentite vo New Age

Photograph taken by: Milos Ilic

2. Which topics were covered and which professors appeared to deliver a lecture?

Andrea Kocev: The gathering was warmly welcomed by all of our professors at the Department of General and Comparative Literature in Skopje. From our department we had the pleasure to hear unique lectures from one of the first professors of the department, as well as author and researcher in the fields of the Modern and Avant-garde era of the 20th century, prof. Vlada Urosevic who delivered a lecture on the surrealism and the tradition.
Furthermore, our professor Vladimir Martinovski delivered a lecture on the inter-media connections between Literature and Music. Professor Elizabeta Sheleva delivered an outstanding lecture on the contemporary status of Comparative Literature, questioning where does it stands today and which are the most actual fields of comparative research.

As well we had Venko Andonovski, author and professor at the Faculty of Philology, who gave a lecture under the topic “Literature – why?” Finally, the round of lectures was closed with prof. Ferid Muhic who delivered a lecture on the understanding of Aristotle and Plato and how their ideas affect literature and life in broader sense.

3. What were the out-of-classroom activities the students had while their stay in Skopje?

Andrea Kocev: The programme was amalgamation of lectures and hours dedicated on friendship and collective moments of fun and meaning. We visited Vodno and the monastery St. Panteleimon in Skopje. Also, the students had the opportunity to see The Old Town and to purchase some book from the Book Fair. By night, we were out in different bars and clubs and we usually ended up in the park until the early morning hours. We had quite a time!

Prof. Vladimir Martinovski

Prof. Vladimir Martinovski

4. Did the guests like Skopje?

Gracija Atanasovska (part of organizing team): The guests did like Skopje, they liked the city quay, the Old Turkish Bazaar, Vodno and the monastery St. Panteleimon; they also had a lot of compliments about the Macedonian hospitality and Macedonian food. Some of them compared it to Sarajevo, as they are the two most similar in the region in terms of multiculturalism.

Stefan Zharich (guest student from Novi Sad): As for Skopje and the ongoing projects in the city, I would add up that they would rather make Skopje remembered for kitsch instead of the cultural and artistic heritage that the city truly owns. Instead of contribution to the visual identity of the city, what’s being constructed at the moment takes a reverse direction.

5. What are the general outcomes of the gathering?

Gracija Atanasovska : One of the best things we got from the gathering was surely the exchange of ideas and contacts for future meetings. The gathering was significant for our future educational development and the changes we want to introduce in the educational system. Staying in touch with people who share the same or similar ideas, concepts and plans is out of great value. And we won’t stop here. Some of our professors confirm that a great international collaboration is to follow. Organizing more gatherings, summer schools even; working on international literary magazines – these are all on the list!

Olivera Margetic photo - Part of the organizing team with guests on Vodno

Photograph taken by: Olivera Margetic 

6. Which are your most valuable impressions from the gathering?

Gracija Atanasovska: There’s definitely the opportunity to meet people with similar interest as mine, people who care about Literature and Arts in general, smart and intelligent who think about the future and work towards better education.

Stefan Zharich: Impressions: the possibility of communication with people who share same interests; facing no barriers among young people regarding what our countries are propagating; visiting the St. Panteleimon monstary; our long and exciting journey with the train and for sure how truly impressive and hospitable Macedonians are!

Interview done by Stefan Alievikj

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