Philological Sciences represent an ample and advanced field at HSE University, extending from Literature Studies and Linguistics with all respective sub-fields to Foreign Languages and Cross-Cultural Communication.
The following sub-fields of linguistic disciplines are currently witnessing consistent development:
- formal methods of language description.This sub-field includes formalization of the theoretical framework of linguistics, as well as linguistic typology. Research in this sub-field is carried out in close cooperation with academics from the Netherlands and the USA;
- experimental methods in linguistics.The Centre for Language and Brain, Laboratory for Cognitive Studies (at the St. Petersburg State University) and the University of Maryland (USA) are coordinating efforts to ensure innovative research on speech pathologies and language impairments;
- digitization of linguistic research. At HSE University, such tasks as Big Data processing and creation of text corpora, as well as the development of corpus and statistical methods for working with materials, are carried out by the Centre for Digital Humanities, Distributed Inter-campus Laboratory for Linguistic Learner Corpora, and Linguistic Laboratory of Corpus Technologies.
The most promising fields, which will develop most dynamically for the period by 2030, include:
- Russian as a foreign language (also, Russian as a second language or substandard Russian).Russian Language Centre has already earned its reputation as both a learning facility (where Russian is taught to international students) and a base for linguistic studies of Russian as a second language. Plans are in place to expand the research component at the centre in the future. The Centre has developed relationships with the Universities of Tromsø, Ljubljana, Berlin, Milan, and Vienna, respectively, Uppsala University, the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, and others;
- linguistic comparative studies and phylogenetics.This sub-field is researched by staff members of the Centre for Comparative Studies and Phylogenetics of the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, which is one of the largest and most reputable institutions in comparative-historical language studies. Today, the Centre engages with leading experts in Indo-European, Altai, Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan, African, and Paleoasian languages, as well as world-class specialists in research of the earliest genetic links between language families. Among the projects and fields in which the Centre’s staff members play a central role, participation in the international project “Evolution of Human Languages”, carried out at the Santa Fe Institute (New Mexico, USA), looms large. This project’s objective is to create a comprehensive genetic classification system for world languages, both on superficial and deeper, or even ultra-deep, chronological levels, as well as develop the linguistic methodology that shall facilitate a reliable reconstruction of ancestor language at various stages.
The domain of literary studies includes the following research fields, which are popular both in Russia and abroad:
- paleo-Slavic studies (literature and culture of Russian Middle Ages; cultural ties in medieval Russia; Novgorod birch bark manuscripts; the language and culture of medieval Russia). This field has received plenty of support from the HSE School of Linguistics and HSE School of History;
- transformation of the Russian literary canon in present-day Russia (literature as a social institution; state and literature institutions; the ideology and poetics of Russian realism from a comparative and cross-disciplinary perspective). Research in this field is carried out at the Department of Literary Studies, jointly with the University of Tartu (Estonia), the St. Petersburg State University, the Pushkin House, Moscow State University, New York University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, The University of St. Andrews (UK), Humboldt University of Berlin, HSE University in St. Petersburg, HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod, and Tolstoy State Museum. The work in this field foresees the development of large databases and the corpora of Russian novels (under development jointly with the Centre for Digital Humanities) and Russian prose of the 19th century;
- intellectual history (literary processes in the context of literary history; Soviet semiotics from an international intellectual perspective; humanitarian epistemology). This field is being worked on together with the University of Oxford and certain Russian universities;
- folklore studies and cultural anthropology (people’s religiousness at the intersection of folklore and booklore in a diachronic perspective; folklore on the ethno-cultural frontier; folkloric space in today’s metropolis). In partnership with the School of Linguistics, research in this field will results in the creation of an online version of the folklore archive, put together relying on the results of expeditions of the Faculty of Humanities. Studies will be conducted jointly with RAS Karelian Research Centre, the Jagiellonian University (Krakow), the RAS Institute for Slavic Studies, and the Centre for the Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Researches of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
The fields to be further developed may cover institutional and poetological research on the Russian literature of the 20th century (e.g., language, poetics, literature and political history, literature of the émigré, commentaries, studies of legacy and life in the works of Konstantin Vaginov, Venedict Erofeev, Osip Mandelstam, Nikolay Oleynikov, Boris Pasternak, David Samoylov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladislav Khodasevich, etc.) Research in this field focuses, on the one hand, on the language of literary writings, and on the other hand, on the social processes characteristic of life of Russian émigré writers, and, in doing so, relies on the automated language processing tools and network models of studying literary life, in cooperation with the HSE School of Linguistics. Various research teams partner up with researchers at HSE University, for instance, experts from its regional campus in Nizhny Novgorod, as well as the University of Helsinki, Stanford University, and Penn State University.
The group of disciplines falling under the category of foreign languages and cross-cultural communication will see development of the following sub-fields:
- methods for teaching foreign languages.The results expected to be attained by 2030 include the update and development of goals and contents of methodological framework for teaching foreign languages in high schools with due consideration of international standards, employers' demands and students' needs; theoretical rationale and the testing of innovative approaches to learning foreign languages and respective evaluation; development and implementation of latest online technologies within the system for the University’s training in foreign languages, e.g., testing and assessment processes; development of professional competency-focused profiles for teachers of foreign languages at Russia’s universities, with consideration of subject-specific knowledge demonstrated by a teacher, as well as his/her emotional wellbeing, and digital competencies required for the successful implementation of educational programmes at universities;
- theory of cross-cultural communication. Studies carried out by a large group of experts from the Department of Foreign Languages will focus on communications between representatives of various cultures, communication styles, strategies and tactics of cross-cultural interactions; corporate communications, and identifying and settling cross-cultural conflicts.
Over the next decade, studies and preservation of the languages and cultures of Eurasia and Africa field will become one of the viable areas of development across all groups in the Philological Sciences. For instance, the following areas where small languages are spoken will be considered: the subarctic region, Russian dialects, the Dagestan region, Abkhaz-Adyghe area, the Volga-Kama region, Pamir languages, etc. In parallel, various types of sign languages researched (i.e., languages used by deaf people) will be studied and described. Moreover, activities in these fields shall go beyond Eurasia, and hence take in Africa and Indonesia (where expeditions of the School of Linguistics have already travelled). However, the anticipated expansion requires both institutional and financial and political support. Furthermore, the current global community of scholars and politics alike express their keen interest in cooperating with the School of Linguistics in this particular line of research. Thus, we have already established working partner networks with the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (Caucasian languages), the Max Planck Society, the University of Hamburg (the Volga-Kama languages), Uppsala University (Subarctic and Iranian languages), Department of Pamir languages of the A. Rudaki Institute of Language and Literature (in Khorog), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, France(African and Caucasian languages) CNRS (LACITO) (African languages), Utrecht University (Finno-Ugric languages), and the University of Bergen (sign languages).
With respect to educational processes, the following tracks/institutions will be the focal points of development:
- Russian Language Centre. This Centre possesses all of the capacities for significantly expanding its activities (i.e., attracting international learners), which is crucial for both the Faculty of Humanities and HSE University as a whole, not only in view of raising additional funds, but also from a pedagogical, research and reputational perspective (e.g., promotion of Russian as a language for international communication in the world). The Russian Language Centre is a subdivision, which combines teaching with trailblazing research, which makes it distinct from any Russian language courses offered at other academic institutions. The instruction approaches to the Russian Language Centre relies on unconventional approaches, which are underpinned by, in particular, the use of high-tech quality educational products (e.g., interactive textbooks, e-dictionaries, databases like “Russian Constructicon”, learner corpora, etc.);
- programmes in Asian studies. By 2030, the most sought-after regional fields (China, Japan, Korea, the Arab world, etc.) will be supplemented with other options for majors. The delivery of the entire range of majors related to Asian studies (including the “revival” of such dormant educational programmes as Egyptological Studies), as well as “extension” of the field of “Asian Studies” to the officially declared field “Asian and African Studies”, through teaching African languages in the context of the entire historical and cultural wealth of African studies, is one of the more ambitious and addressed tasks in this sub-field;
- linguistic comparative studies. Strong cooperation between instructors and researchers of the Institute for Classical and Oriental Studies with those of the School of Linguistics is anticipated in this particular area. In order to attract talented Master’s and doctoral students to research activities, syllabi for new and existing special courses and research seminars are being developed. In terms of international collaborations, links with Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte (Jena), Centre for Linguistics of Leiden University, and Institut National des langues et civilisations orientales (Paris) are receiving extensive support, and preliminary agreements are already in place.