The professional periodical of Hungarian literary history titled Publications on Literary History (PLH, Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények) was started in 1891 as a journal of the Committee of Literary History of the Academy. Since 1956, it has been the journal of the Institute for Literary History (from 1969 Literary Studies) of the Academy.
The task of the periodical is to publish the new results of Hungarian literary history writing. It follows the history of Hungarian literature from the beginnings to the second half of the 20th century – in general it does not consider the analysis of current literature its task.
Regarding the distribution of literary history periods examined in the publications of the PLH, traditionally three periods can be indicated as the focus points of interest: old Hungarian literature, the Enlightenment and the Reform Age, and the literature of the nearly hundred years between 1849 and the middle of the 20th century. These units have long been given a nearly equal role in the thematic proportions of the periodical. The number and proportion of publications dealing with the literature of the second half of the 20th century have slightly increased in recent years with a special regard to the examination of those careers that have already been finished and are considered outstanding, and to the analysis of those works that have a content or form with special significance.
However, it is obvious that the great number of periodicals on literature, culture, literary history and literary studies provides many possibilities for researchers of modern Hungarian literature while the PLH is the central – and from a certain aspect the only – periodical for old and classical literature. Due to this position, it publishes studies dealing with cultural history and the history of ideas, too.
The journal aims at giving place to the dialogue between the researchers of old and classical literature and the representatives of the new ways of expression of literary interpretation. Although the researchers of previous periods are considered to apply traditional textological-philological methods, while modern and postmodern literature is usually approached with current methods of literary studies, in reality many studies that deal with the problems of old and classical literature could make their subjects relevant in recent years by using the approaches and methodical elements of the most up-to-date hermeneutics and literary theoretical trends of interpretation. The momentum that a paradigmatic thesis system – or one that is meant to be paradigmatic – demonstrates its own possibilities through old works is known from the international science history of the new ways of expression. Thus the PLH pays special attention to enlighting the real relationship between the modern strategies of literary interpretation and the methods and principles of approach used in the research of old-classical literature. Besides presenting the new methodological trends and research tendencies, the periodical pays attention to the analysis of certain questions of literary theory, providing an up-to-date orientation regarding actual and important issues of methodology and approach.
The PLH gives a picture of the research on Hungarian literary history with the help of its various columns (Studies, Smaller Publications, Literary Analysis, Textology, Workshop, Debate). Its Database column regularly publishes the newly explored and so far unknown works and documents of literary historical interest. In its column called Review, it issues reviews and critics on the recent publications of Hungarian literary history writing: monographs, study volumes, critical editions; and it also presents publications in foreign languages that have a subject of Hungarian literary history. The column Chronicle reports on the most important happenings of the Hungarian profession of literary science. The table of contents of each volume is published in French, too.
The PLH is the field of professionalists’ discourse (it is an indispensable basis of professional orientation for colleagues working in tertiary education, research institutions and public collections). Besides, the periodical is regularly used by the students of tertiary education (BA and MA students of Hungarian linguistics and literature, and the PhD students of the doctoral schools of literary studies) and the teachers of secondary and elementary schools, while it is occasionally read by secondary school students (for their research homeworks or preparations for the national secondary school competition called OKTV).
Since 1997, the peridoical has also been available on the internet (with annexes, databases, search options); first in HTML, since 2008 in PDF format. Our website is: http://itk.iti.mta.hu.