Institute or Rusyn Language and Culture of Prešov University Has its
autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture newly established at
the University of Prešov
“Our own identity
means a lot for us”,...
FIRST DOCTORAL DISSERTATION
IN THE RUSYN LANGUAGE DEFENDED
School for Rusyn Language and Culture
June 9 - 30, 2013
The Institute or Rusyn Language and Culture of Prešov University
Has its First Head
In the Narodnŷ novynky newspaper Volume 9 – 12 / 2008,
an article was published (Na Prjašivskij univerziti vznyknuv
Inštitut rusyňskoho jazŷka i kulturŷ, p. 2) saying that, at
the meeting that took place on February 12th, 2008,
the Academic Senate of Prešov University (PU), as the highest
self-governing body of this institution, discussed and accepted
several propositions for innovation of the internal regulations
and organisational changes at PU, which had been submitted by
the rector Prof. RNDr. René Matlovič, PhD. Among all the
changes having been approved by the Academic Senate of PU, we
find the most important the organisation changes, as a
result of which, the Institute of Regional and National
Minority Studies of Prešov University (IRNMS PU) was
transformed into two independent entities. One of them is the
Research Centre of PU and the other the Institute of Rusyn
Language and Culture PU (IRLC PU), which was modelled on the
former Department of Rusyn Language and Culture IRNMS PU. From
March 1st, 2008 until the selection process
for the position of the Head of the new institute took place,
Anna Plišková, the former Head of the Department of Rusyn
Language and Culture of IRNMS PU, was empowered to lead the
Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture of PU.
The announced selection process for the position of the Head of
the Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture of PU, was carried
out by Prešov University on June 11th, 2008.
Based on the results of the selection, on June 12th,
2008, the rector of PU appointed PhDr. Anna Plišková,
Ph.D. to the position of the Head of the Institute.
July 9th, 2008
A SIGNIFICANT EVENT FOR RUSYNS NOT JUST IN SLOVAKIA:
An autonomous Institute of Rusyn Language and Culture newly
established at the University of Prešov
• PhDr. Anna Plišková, Ph. D. in charge of governing
the newly established Institute of Rusyn Language
and Culture, University of Prešov
On March 1st, 2008, an autonomous Institute of
Rusyn Language and Culture (Ústav rusínskeho jazyka a
kultúry – ÚRJK PU) was established at the University of
Prešov, which was a significant event for Rusyns. This meant
fulfilling one of the aims set by Rusyn activists at the
beginning of the Rusyn revival process in Slovakia after the
Velvet Revolution in 1989 – to establish an autonomous
Department of Rusyn Language and Culture. And now it finally
happened, and even better than hoped for, since, at present,
institutes are of higher status than departments in the academic
But until this was achieved, a turbulent journey had to be
undertaken. A lot could be said about it, as we (the late Vasiľ
Turok-Heteš as the then Chairman of the Rusyn Revival and the
World Congress of Rusyns and myself, as the Secretary in both
organisations) also take credit for the present success. As the
first step, in 1993, we established the Institute of Rusyn
Language and Culture at the Rusyn Revival in Prešov. At the same
time, we requested the foundation of an autonomous department,
or at least a sub-department, of Rusyn language and culture at
one of the faculties of the then University of P. J. Šafárik in
Prešov. However, the old guard did everything they could
not to let it happen although we managed to get 1.5 million
crowns to equip the future department of Rusyn language and
culture and we found rooms which we furnished and prepared...
But in the end, everything was in vain, because the university
claimed these possessions and Rusyns, again, were left with
nothing... That is why we were really enthusiastic about an
“alternative“ solution offered by the then university rector
Prof. PhDr. Karol Feč, CSc. In 1998, he established the
Institute of Minority Studies and Foreign Languages (Ústav
národnostných štúdií a cudzích jazykov – ÚNŠCJ) at the new
University of Prešov with a central position of the Department
of Rusyn Language and Culture. In 2006, this institute was
transformed into the Institute of Regional and Minority Studies
(Ústav regionálnych a národnostných štúdií – ÚRNŠ), focusing on
research on the region and its minorities, where the position of
the Rusyn department was reduced – it only became a group for
the Rusyn language and culture of the Department for Research on
National Issues at ÚRNŠ PU. During all that time, the output of
the department members’
(or “group” members’) work did not stay unnoticed. After
Prof. RNDr. René Matlovič, Ph.D. became the rector of Prešov
University in 2007 and after the resulting structural changes to
the university had taken effect, his proposal was approved by
the university Academic Senate on February 12th,
2008. As a result, the department (or group) of Rusyn language
and culture was transformed into an autonomous Institute of
Rusyn Language and Culture. Surely, V. Turok would be as pleased
as we are, since it is, although indirectly, also to his credit.
If it were not for the previous steps, there would not be the
present positive outcome.
2. 6. 2008
“Our own identity means a lot for us”,...
... the students of L. Stöckel Secondary Comprehensive School
in Bardejov claim unequivocally.
There was a threefold reason to ask Dr. Marcel Tribus, the
school Headmaster, for permission to visit the school – to
address the young generation with the issue of ethnic identity
and, at the same time, to inform potential university students
about the possibility to study the newly accredited programme
Rusyn Language and Culture in combination with twelve
other subjects at the University of Prešov.
Having mentioned a threefold reason, or, rather, three points
that have initiated the meeting, we had in mind the following:
Peter Čulák from Bardejov, a student of the school in
question, who, for the Secondary Academic Work (Stredoškolská
odborná činnosť – SOČ)
chose the topic I have been a Rusyn and I will be one...
(a paraphrase of Я Русин был..., a line by the national
revivalist A. Dukhnovich) (P. Čulák’s work can be found below
in the same column.) This was a positive point that gave the
author of this article a signal that our young generation is
interested in their origin. In the course of events, a young
student who wanted to present Rusyns as an ethnic group to his
classmates, also learnt many new facts about Rusyns. He was
surprised to hear about the recently launched book of Rusyn
fairy tales by the Kostova sisters from Kurov Приповідкы
на добру ніч (Good-night Stories). An
interest in organising a discussion with the authors of the
fairy tales was another reason why we had decided to visit the
abovementioned secondary school. Our plans were even speeded up
by a phone call from the Headmaster of the oldest secondary
comprehensive school in Bardejov, who welcomed the idea of
presenting the Rusyn language study programme at University of
students who are taking their A-level exams
Participants in the discussion with students of L.
Stöckel Secondary Comprehensive School in Bardejov
PhDr. K. Koporová, an editor of the Narodny Novînky
Press and Rusîn; Mgr. A. Zozuľák, the editor-in-chief of
the above issues; Mgr. Alena Blichová; an assistant at
the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture, Institute
of Regional and Ethnic Minority Studies, University of
Prešov and PhDr. A. Plišková, PhD, a senior assistant at
the same department.
The discussion with students, which took place on February 8th,
2007, met our expectations, as well as expectations of students.
It also outlined visions of the future cooperation.
At the beginning, the student Peter Čulák introduced the
topic of Rusynity to the students by means of his rhetorical
presentation I have been a Rusyn and I will be one…,
enriched by slides showing the most significant personalities of
the Rusyn revival. The most significant guest Mgr.
Alexander Zozuľák, the editor-in-chief of the magazine
аnd the weekly newspaper Народны новинкы (Narodny
Novinky Press) and the Deputy of the World Council of
Rusyns, talked about activities of Rusyns after November 1989,
and also presented many Rusyn publications, issued in Slovakia
after 1989. For students of the fourth (final) year, the most
topical piece of information came from PhDr. Anna Pliškova,
PhD., from the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture,
Institute of Regional and Ethnic Minority Studies, University of
Prešov, about the conditions of accepting students for Rusyn
language studies, as well as job possibilities after graduation.
Mgr. Alena Blichová, a doctoral student at the University
of Prešov, a graduate of Rusyn language studies informed the
students about world and homeland activities of Rusyn youth
organisations, and also about further possibilities of
self-realisation for young Rusyns. At the end of the event, the
author of this article asked the students a few questions
about their approach to their own identity in the common Europe.
The questions were aimed at their opinions of the need to learn
about history and culture and the need to preserve the
traditions and customs of our ancestors. We got answers to the
question whether these issues are important in the lives of
young people, or whether they are not accepted any more and,
rather, pushed aside as something unnecessary, or maybe even
obsolete or old-fashioned.
Petra Mihalčinová, Bardejov:
My parents come from Šariš, but, searching the family tree, I
have found out that, in our family, we also have Rusyn
ancestors. I think that finding our own identity and learning
about our roots is important for the future and we should not
give it up. The traditions and customs of our ancestors need to
be saved for the future generations.
Ivana Vančíková, Bardejov:
My parents are of Rusyn origin – my mum comes from Ondavka and
my dad was brought up in Kurimka. We speak Rusyn at home and I
am convinced that minority languages should not be suppressed
for the sake of world ones. They should be preserved, because it
is a piece of our identity.
Zuzana Kokindová, Bardejov:
I was surprised to find out that Rusyn language has been
codified and, today, for the very first time, I had the
opportunity to hear Rusyn in its codified form. It sounds good.
In my opinion, languages of minorities have their place in the
world, they need to be preserved and developed.
Marek Baňka, Bardejov:
I used to spend every summer holiday in Kurov, so I was in
intense touch with other Rusyns in the village. My family are
also Rusyns, although we live in a town where Rusynism is not so
powerful. That is why everything which is Rusyn is so close to
me. In villages it is natural that people communicate in Rusyn.
It seems to me that we, Slavs, should do more to present
ourselves, our culture and traditional values to the world.
Jana Čuláková, Bardejov:
Both my parents are Rusyn, which is why we were brought up in
this spirit. Thanks to this, we have no doubts about our
nationality. We should learn about the history of our ancestors,
we should preserve their traditions, customs, religion, and also
language; it is our most precious possession.
Mária Šurkalová, Becherov:
My national orientation was influenced by my family and also by
Father Vladimír Pančák from Becherov. I am convinced that Rusyn
nationality as well as Rusyn language should not disappear and,
to prevent this, the young generation must continue the started
work. That is why I have decided, after I have finished this
secondary school, to study my mother tongue – Rusyn.
Peter Čulák, Bardejov:
My interest in own identity is obvious from my rhetorical
presentation. I think I will also succeed with my SOČ work about
Rusyns. Although I have chosen a university in the field of
economy, I will still be interested in Rusyns and I believe
that, during my studies, I will keep dealing with Rusyn issues.
March 7th, 2007
FIRST DOCTORAL DISSERTATION
IN THE RUSYN LANGUAGE DEFENDED
The past decade has seen
an enormous growth worldwide of scholarly interest in the history and
culture of Carpatho-Rusyns. Several talented young scholars of various
national backgrounds, who accept the premise that Carpatho-Rusyns form a
distinct people, have earned doctoral degrees at leading universities
for Ph.D. dissertations in the fields of history, linguistics,
literature, musicology, and sociology. Among these are Helena
Duc’-Fajfer (Jagellonian University, Poland, 1997), Lenora
Decarlo (Florida State University, USA, 1998), Alexander Teutsch
(Heidelberg University, Germany, 2001), Eva Michna (Jagellonian
University, Poland, 2001), Marc Stegherr (Ludwig-Maximillian
University, Munich, Germany, 2002), and Bogdan Horbal (University
of Wrocław, Poland, 2005).
The latest to join
the ranks of scholars whose dissertations is on a topic of Rusyn studies
is Anna Plišková, who in November 2006 was awarded the Ph.D.
degree from Slovak Academy of Sciences Institute for Slavic Studies in
Bratislava, Slovakia. Dr. Plišková, who since 1999 teaches at
Prešov University’s Department of Rusyn Language and Literature, was
also holder of the Steven Chepa Fellowship in Rusyn Studies at the
University of Toronto. Her dissertation,
Списовный язык карпатьскых Русинів: проблемы становліня,
кодіфікації, акцептації і сфер функціонуваня,
was written under the direction of the
distinguished Slavist, Professor Ján Dorul’a.
What makes Dr.
Plišková’s work unique is the fact that it is the first dissertation
written entirely in the Rusyn literary language.
The appearance of her dissertation is not only a triumphant personal
achievement, it is also a historic moment which reveals that the
scholarly world recognizes the existence of Rusyns as a distinct Slavic
people, and that the Rusyn language can be used for scholarly and
scientific publications. Clearly Dr. Anna Plišková has shown to other
young scholars that it is not only possible to undertake scholarly
projects on Rusyn topics but also to publish the results of such
research in the Rusyn language.
Prof. Dr. Paul
Robert MAGOCSI, PhD.,
University of Toronto,
Canada, 10. 1. 2007