Cultural History

Economic and Social History

Political History


Modern Greek Literature and History of Ideas, 18th-20th c.

The programme focuses on
(i) the literary and
(ii) the scholarly texts in general, written from the 18th to the 20th century.

The programme aims to study the ideological and intellectual tendencies derived from the body of literary and scholarly texts, the cultural transfers that determine the evolution of modern Greek literature, as well as the multiple manifestations and functions of the literary authors, scholars, editors etc. on the public sphere. Despite the fact that literary texts are a main source of information and a field of particular studies, the programme mainly aims to the history of ideas and the intellectual history for a more profound understanding of the cultural phenomena. Thus, research is based on the body of the published and unpublished literary works, scholarly essays, translated works, articles in the press, etc., which reveal the main intellectual orientations in Greece, and consequently the main ideological tendencies and currents of thought, from the 18th to the early 20th century.

More specifically, the research activities of the programme’s researchers deal with

  • the study of several thematic or literary genres (i.e. memoirs and autobiography, philhellenic texts, pedagogical texts, children’s literature, popular literature etc.) in their relation to the historical and cultural context, Greek, Mediterranean and European
  • the works of the scholars of the 19th century, their cultural and political dimensions and their contribution to the national self-awareness; the development of classical philology in Greece as a distinctive scientific field
  • the overall knowledge of foreign languages (geographic distribution, networking and social stratification of the foreign languages speakers, the ways and means of studying foreign languages) in relation with the translation phenomena, before and after the Greek revolution; the study of translation as a vehicle of cultural transfers and diffusion of ideas
  • the study of the scholarly tradition, the relations of modernity with the ancient heritage



The study of modern Greek literature has always been among the main scientific fields of the then Institute of Neohellenic Research, since its founding as a Centre of Neohellenic Research. However, the literary studies were never a goal in itself, but they rather served to the history of modern Hellenism and the history of ideas. In 2001 was created the “Seminar on Comparative Literature and the History of ideas” in order to promote the study of Greek literature within a broader international – European context. As the Seminar’s works contributed to the further development of the literary aspect in the Institute’s research activities, in 2006 the Seminar became the research programme “Literary studies 15th-20th centuries”, which, in 2011, defined more precisely its perspectives and orientations and has been named: “Literary studies and History of ideas, 18th-20th centuries”.



Ourania Polycandrioti, Senior Researcher, Supervisor
Sophia Matthaiou, Associate Researcher
Alexandra Sfoini, Associate Researcher
George Tolias, Research Director
Anna Tabaki, Professor at the University of Athens, invited researcher.


Ongoing projects

I. Genres of modern Greek literature (18th-20th century)
The research focuses on the study of literary texts as a main source for the history of ideas and the cultural history.
Main research fields:

  • the formation and the evolution of literary genres (from the 18th century), and more particularly of the genres of personal and referential discourse, such as autobiography and memoirs, in connection with their cultural and historical context.
  • the relations between readers and literary texts (19th-20th centuries)
  • children’s literature and pedagogical models (19th century)
  • popular literature or the multiple relations between literary texts and the public sphere
  • the perception and the representations of the Mediterranean area in literature
  • networks of scholars in the Mediterranean.

Supervisor: Ourania Polycandrioti, Senior Researcher


II. Nineteenth-century Greek intellectuals
The research focuses on 19th century Greek intellectuals and their role in the institutional and ideological formation of the Greek state. They were a group of people with European culture who substantially founded the state institutions and manned the administration. Their multifaceted contribution reflects not only their origins, education and cultural orientations, but also the pragmatic needs to which they were called to respond; therefore, it accounts for the social and political changes that took place in Greece at the time.

Supervisor: Sophia Matthaiou, Associate Researcher


III. Humanistic traditions: Greek studies, Philology, Archaeology
The research focuses on the reception and use of classical heritage [by modern Greeks?] including the early manifestations of this phenomenon during the waxing of European humanism. Emphasis is given to issues closely related to modern Greek intellectual history; the recovery [reappropriation?] of ancient Greek heritage and its integration into the new national ideological edifice as it was proposed by Adamantios Korais and the late Enlightenment French intellectuals, as well as by the European Philhellenism; another issue to be considered is the history and the national character of Greek archaeology.
In this context there is an on-going research on the establishing of classical philology as an organized discipline in the nineteenth-century Greece - a process closely associated with the conditions under which the new state was built.

George Tolias, Research Director
Sophia Matthaiou, Associate Researcher


IV. Language learning, translations, concepts (18th-20th centuries)

The object of the project is the study of the tendencies of linguistic orientation in various periods according to the social and cultural conjunctures and the necessities of the Hellenism under ottoman and venetian rule, the free state and the diaspora. The aim is to present the total language learning (geographical distribution, social strata and networks of the polyglots, modes and media of the language learning) and the translation production of the Greeks in diachrony, and to attempt the historical approach of the translation phenomenon in relation with the ideas, values and attitudes diffused in the Greek cultural area, in order to outline with as far as possible precision the process of cultural transfers and osmoses, the receptivities and the resistances of the Greek space, as well as the genres of the translation production. In that frame a documentation of the catalogue of printed and manuscript translations for the 18th-19th centuries is effected. The instruments of language learning (dictionaries, grammars, methods of learning, dialogues) constitute a separate category, the books in foreign languages, as well as the translations from ancient Greek.
At the same time a research of the new vocabularies, the conceptual tools and the specific terminologies is effected. This research presupposes the systematic indexing of a historical material of multiple tonality (mainly translations, but also originals) and focuses on the formation of a data base of basic words, terms and concepts of the Hellenic Enlightenment and Revolution.

Data Base
The documentation of the Data Base of Neohellenic Translations from the 18th-19th centuries continues with identifications of originals and translations, autopsies, microphotographing of introductions, indexing of periodicals kept in the Gennadius, the National Library, the NHRF and other libraries. The Data Base contains about 3.500 entries. To the Data Base contributed students who are doing their stage from the Department of History and Archaeology and the Department of French Language and Literature of the University of Athens.

Supervisor: Alexandra Sfoini, Associate Researcher


V. Bibliography of Philhellenism: new additions
The project aims at the enrichment of the bibliography of philhellenism and the promotion of the philhellenic activity. In that frame the second edition of Loukia Droulia’s reference book Philhellénisme. Ouvrages inspirés par la guerre de l’indépendance grecque 1821-1833. Répertoire bibliographique, Athens, NHRF, 1974 is planned, with considerable additions coming from the scientific collaborator’s new indexing. At the same time the creation of a continually enriched portal is sheduled, where philhellenic original publications and iconographic material will be posted. At this portal the typescript of Loukia Droulia’s study on philhellenism will also be published, so that it will be accessible to the researchers. The project will become an important contribution to a subject of international interest, which still attracts scholars from all over the world.

Supervisors: Alexandra Sfoini, Georges Tolias.
Collaborators: Loukia Droulia, Stathis Finopoulos, Mirka Palioura, Constantinos Arniakos, Constantinos Maras.


Scientific Events
(2001-2013, selection)

  • Seminar on Comparative Literature and History of Ideas
    Tendances actuelles de la littérature comparée dans le Sud-Est de l’Europe
    (Athens, NHRF, 3-4 September 2001)
  • Colloque Franco-Hellénique
    Victor Hugo, une voix universelle à l’aube du XXIème siècle. Le rayonnement grec.
    Contribution hellénique au bicentenaire de sa naissance
    In collaboration with the Department of French Language and Literature – University of Athens and the French Institute – French Embassy at Athens
    (Athens, NHRF, 21-23 November 2002)
  • Seminar on Comparative Literature and History of Ideas
    Colloque international
    Transferts culturels / osmoses, divergences et convergences dans les traditions et les canons littéraires et dramatiques du Sud-Est européen (XVIIIe-XXe siècles)
    (Athens, NHRF, 31 October – 1 November 2003)
  • Ramsès-2, Réseau euro-méditerranéen d’excellence (Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme – Université d’aix-en-Provence – CNRS)
    Retours au passé. Mémoires politisées, mémoires expatriées
    Atelier : Mémoires en Méditerranée. Entre histoire et politique
    Responsables: Maryline Crivello, Ourania Polycandrioti
    (Athens, NHRF, 30-31 March 2007)
  • Conference
    Terry Eagleton, The death of criticism?
    In collaboration with the Department of Literature – University of Ioannina and the British Council at Athens
    (Athens, NHRF, 30-31 November 2008)
  • International Colloquium
    Ernest Renan et la Grèce. Philosophie, langue et politique
    In collaboration with the Department of French Language and Literature – University of Athens and the French Institute – French Embassy at Athens
    (Athens, NHRF, 3 April 2009)
  • Colloquium
    Literature and the visual arts
    In collaboration with the Greek General and Comparative Literature Association
    (Athens, NHRF, 3 October 2010)
  • International Colloquium
    L’espace Méditerranéen:  écriture de l’exil, migrances et discours post-colonial / The Mediterranean : writing exile, immigrations and postcolonial discourse
    In collaboration with the Department of Political Science and International Relations – University of Peloponnese and the Estudio de Literaturas Transnacionales Europeas ELITE / Université Autonome de Madrid
    (Athens, NHRF, 5-6 November 2010)
  • Congress
    The poetics of landscape
    In collaboration with the Greek General and Comparative Literature Asoociation
    (Athens, NHRF, 19-22 January 2012).
  • Round Table
    The image in Cavafy’s poetry
    In collaboration with the European Cultural Centre of Delphi
    (Athens, NHRF, 31 October 2013)
  • Seminars
    Athènes – Paris 1945-1975. Littérature et Politique
    In collaboration with the École Française d’Athènes.
  • Lucile Arnoux-Farnoux (Université de Tours), Ourania Polycandrioti (NHRF), « Introduction générale » – Takis Théodoropoulos (écrivain), « Camus et Malraux à Athènes » (Athènes, ÉfA, 27 mars 2013).
  • Lizy Tsirimokou (professeur, Université d’Athènes), «Au temps de l’engagement. Louis Aragon et les Grecs» (Athènes, ÉfA, 24 avril 2013).
  • Christine Dounia (professeur associée, Université d’Athènes), «Paul Éluard en Grèce : Athènes 1946 – Grammos 1949» (Athènes, ÉfA, 15 mai 2013).
  • Dimitris Raftopoulos (critique littéraire - écrivain), «Un écrivain grec à Paris ». Présentation : Lizy Tsirimokou (professeur, Université d’Athènes) (Athènes, ÉfA, 12 juin 2013).
  • Jeanne Constandulaki-Chantzou (professeur émérite – Université d’Athènes), « François Mauriac – Jean Cocteau : deux regards sur la Grèce de l’après-guerre » (Athènes, ÉfA, 2 octobre 2013)
  • Vassilis Alexakis (écrivain), «Une langue pour rire, et une pour pleurer » (Athènes, ÉfA, 13 Novembre 2013).
  • Titos Patrikios (poète), « Un poète grec à Paris » (Athènes, ÉfA, 11 décembre 2013).
  • Alki Zéi (écrivain), «La vie à Paris au temps de la dictature» (Athènes, ÉfA, 29 janvier 2014).

Scheduled conferences :
Marie Elisabeth Mitsou (26 février 2014).
Christos Daniil (19 mars 2014).
Vassiliki Lalagianni (9 avril 2014).



The research project Modern Greek Literature and History of Ideas collaborates with the:


Publications (Books - Books Editing), 2000-2013

Sophia Matthaiou

  • (ed. with Pantelis Carelos), Stephanos A. Koumanoudis’ unpublished writings 1837-1845. The diary 1837-1845 - An incomplete treatise against Fallmerayer, Institute for Neohellenic Research / NHRF, Athens 2010, 318 pp.
  • (editor of the Greek entries), Bibliographie internationale de l'Humanisme et de la Renaissance, XLIII, Travaux parus 2007, Genève, Librairie Droz, 2011.
  • (editor of the Greek entries), Bibliographie internationale de l'Humanisme et de la Renaissance, XLIV, Travaux parus 2008, Genève, Librairie Droz, 2012.
  • (ed. with Athina Chatzidimitriou), “Expatriated” Greek Antiquities: Departures and trajectories, Institute for Neohellenic Research / NHRF -125, Athens 2012, 257 pp.

Ourania Polycandrioti

  • Takis Theodoropoulos, Rania Polycandrioti, La Méditerranée grecque, series: Les représentations de la Méditerranée, t. 6, Maisonneuve et Larose, Coll. ‘Monde Méditerranéen’, 2000, 56 p.
  • (ed. and Introduction with Z.I. Siaflekis), ΤαυτότητακαιΕτερότηταστηΛογοτεχνία, 18ος-20όςαι., τ. Β΄: Μύθοι, Γένη, Θέματα[Identity and Alterity in Literature, 18th-20th century, vol. 2: Myths, Genres, Themes], Proceedings of the 2nd International Congress of the Greek General and Comparative Literature Association, Domos Editions, Athens 2000, 359 p.
  • (ed. and Introduction with Z.I. Siaflekis), Expressions et représentations littéraires de la Méditerranée : Îles et ports, 16e-20e siècles, Symposium Proceedings (European Cultural Centre of Delphi, 5-6 November 1999), series: “Studies and Researches”-1, Greek General and Comparative Literature Association, Patakis Editions, Athens 2002, 165 p. (« Avant-Propos », p. 9-17).
  • Identité culturelle. Littérature, histoire, mémoire, sous la direction de Ourania Polycandrioti, Τετράδια Εργασίας [Research Notebooks] 30, Institut de Recherches Néohelléniques, Fondation Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Athènes 2006, 220 p. (« Introduction », p. 15-29).
  • Les échelles de la mémoire en Méditerranée, Edited by Maryline Crivello, Coordinated by Karine-Larissa Basset, Dimitri Nicolaïdis and Ourania Polycandrioti, Actes Sud / Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, coll. : « Études méditerranéennes », 362 p.
  • Η διάπλαση των Ελλήνων. Αριστοτέλης Π. Κουρτίδης (1858-1928) [The Molding the Greeks. Aristotle P. Kourtidis (1858-1928)], Institute of Neohellenic Research / National Hellenic Research Foundation-123 (ISBN: 978-960-9538-05-3), Historical Archives of the Greek Youth / General Secretariat of the New Generation-48 (ISBN: 978-960-7138-43-9), Athens 2011, 430 p.

Alexandra Sfoini

  • Ξένοι συγγραφείς μεταφρασμένοι ελληνικά (15ος-17ος αι.) [Foreign authors translated in Modern greek, 15th-18th centuries], Athens, N.H.R.F., 2003, 249 p.
  • (ed. – introduction) Ιστορία των εννοιών. Διαδρομές της ευρωπαϊκής ιστοριογραφίας, [History of Concepts. Itineraries of the European Historiography], Theories and Studies of History 20, EMNE – Mnimon, Athens 2006, 336 p.

See also the List of Publications


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