Villers's painting

Marie-Denise Villers (1774–1821, French), Young Woman Drawing, 1801

First set up in 2007 by the European Science Foundation (ESF) Standing Committee for the Humanities, Cultural Literacy in Europe set itself the task of investigating the following questions:

  • What is the current state of the field of literary studies in Europe?
  • What is the interdisciplinary field of ‘literary and cultural studies’ (LCS) and what are its relationships to other fields?
  • How is LCS already active in European society, in the form of ‘cultural literacy’?
  • How can we develop and extend the contribution of LCS to Europe and its challenges?

In 2009 an ESF-COST synergy was created to carry the initiative forward; between 2009 and 2011 it ran five international workshops. It was decided that LCS research is based on four key concepts:


From Literature to Cultural Literacy cover image (photo by Naomi Segal)

Research has continued within these four fields of study; at the first CLE Conference, in 2015 the following papers were given:

The initial two outcomes were an ESF-COST Science Policy Briefing, published in January 2013, and a volume of seventeen essays, From Literature to Cultural Literacy, coedited by Naomi Segal and Daniela Koleva, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

At present, the project’s Steering Committee aims to implement the first two recommendations of the Science Policy Briefing:

    • Recommendation 1: Create a biennial Cultural Literacy conference series
    • Recommendation 2: Inaugurate a European Forum for LCS research.