Excellence in Research
Dr. Agnieszka Gutthy
Excellence in Research
Dr. Agnieszka Gutthy
Professor of Spanish
Philology is the little-known branch of knowledge dealing with
the structure, historical development, and relationships of a
language or languages. The original Greek term meant a love of
learning and literature.
The definition is a good fit for Agnieszka Gutthy, Southeastern
professor of Spanish and this year’s recipient of the
President’s Award for Excellence in Research.
With two master’s degrees in English and Spanish philology
earned in her native country of Poland, Gutthy earned her doctorate
in Spanish, from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1993.
In fact, she can speak, read and/or has a basic knowledge of
eight languages: Spanish, English, Polish, Russian, German, French,
Kashubian and Euskera. She admits that she loves literature and is
somewhat obsessive-compulsive when it comes to buying books.
“My inspiration comes from books,” she said.
“I spend most of my time reading. I love learning new things.
If something new appears, I read it. I create this literary
A member of the faculty for 18 years, Gutthy says research
contributes to her learning and teaching.
“If I stayed stagnant with what I knew 18 years ago, I
would not grow as an educator. I combine my interests with my
During her tenure at Southeastern, Gutthy has edited and
published two books, with a third due to be published in 2012. She
has also published numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews in
refereed journals and has organized panels, presented her research,
taught seminars on comparative literature and spoken at 28 national
and international conferences.
“It is extremely rare, and indeed most fortunate for an
institute of higher learning, to be blessed with someone with the
ability and enthusiasm displayed by Dr. Gutthy,” said Lucia
Harrison, head of the Department Head of Languages and
Communication. “Dr. Gutthy’s critical work is truly
first-rate. She is a sound literary critic who reads the text
carefully, who has an excellent frame of reference in social,
political, and historic terms, and who has passion for her subject.
Her accomplishments have benefited the university both as an
educator and as a researcher.”
Gutthy’s areas of research include comparative literature,
the literature of exile, and that of cultural and linguistic
minorities in Europe, specifically the Basques in Spain and the
Kashubs in Poland. She says she enjoys discovering the connections
between writers, literature and mutual influences on opposite sides
of Europe. Of all the research projects Gutthy has conducted, she
most enjoyed her work on literature in exile.
“I published a collection of essays,” she said,
“and while doing it I learned a lot from things that people
sent me from other countries. Literature of Exile in East and
Central Europe, is about works by writers from Russia, Germany and
Eastern Europe exiled because of unbearable political conditions.
There were commonalities among those writers; they all had to leave
or were expelled from their country because of their political
situations. While they all had reactions to this, each reaction was
Her second book, Exile and the Narrative/Poetic Imagination, she
concedes, wasn’t that region-specific.
“It deals with the exile and narrative or poetic
imaginations of the writers’ response to the whole idea of
exile,” she continued. “There are authors included from
Armenia, Africa, Germany, from all over the world. Themes of loss,
loneliness, the search for identity and memories of trauma are
included in the essays.”
Her current work pertains to the culture, language and
literature of the Kasubs, a Slavic ethnic group in Poland.
“They are mostly unknown, except for a small group of
specialists. There are only about 50,000 people who speak Kashubian
because the area is surrounded by two dominant languages, German
and Polish. The book is more like an introduction to the Kashubian
As for future projects, Gutthy has several in mind. First on her
wish list is to write studies on the Romantic Polish poet Cyprian
Norwid. “He was a modern writer in spite of being a romantic.
I would like to translate his poetry for an anthology of his poems
and a book of his other literature.”
Also high on the list is a book about the Basque history in New
Orleans, which has one of the most famous Basque families
the Zatarains. Gutthy says the Basque language is really hard to
understand because, “It has no connection with any other
languages that we know of. This language is on a linguistic
It may not stay that way for long if Dr. Gutthy has anything to
say about it.