The Institute of Slovak Literature of the SAS carries out both basic research of Slovak literature and culture in Slovak and international contexts, as well as research of ideas and thinking about literature and culture from the beginnings until presence. It creates and maintains standards and competences for a wide range of methodological approaches, disciplines and areas of literary studies, historical periods, as well as problems of literary theory and literary history. It develops thinking about literature, especially about Slovak literature, about its history and literary culture, as well as about the position of literature in contemporary cultural, social and media contexts; and it mediates this knowledge to experts and general public.
There are four research departments: Department of history of older Slovak literature, Department of history of the 19th century Slovak literature, Department of researching Slovak literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, and Department of literary theory. Academic library is also a part of the Institute.
The Institute is the external educational organization for PhD. studies in collaboration with the Department of Slovak Literature and Literary Studies of the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava.
The Institute of Slovak Literature of the SAS publishes the journal Slovenská literatúra (since 1954).
The Institute of Slovak Literature of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (Ústav slovenskej literatúry SAV) was founded in 1953 when the Slovak Academy of Sciences had been established. It continued the tradition of the Institute of Literary Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts (Literárnovedný ústav Slovenskej akadémie vied a umení), preserving its structure, staff and research. The Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts itself was founded in 1942 as the supreme research body in the Slovak Republic (1939 – 1945). It was renewed in 1946; and eventually closed in 1953.
The Institute of Literary Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts published scientific periodicals, such as Litteraria historica slovaca and Literárnohistorický zborník (Literary-Historical Volume of Proceedings; the latter periodical was formerly published by the Slovak Matica). The Institute of Slovak Literature of the Slovak Academy of Sciences currently publishes periodicals Slovenská literatúra (since 1954) and Litteraria (annually, since 1958).
Karol Rosenbaum (1953 – 1957), followed by Ivan Kusý (1957 – 1970) and Ján Brezina (1970 – 1973), were among the first directors of the Institute. On 1 August 1973, after politically motivated purges, the Institute was reorganized. Two previously autonomous institutes, namely, the Institute of Slovak Literature and the Institute of World Literature and Languages merged. Consequently, the Institute of Literary Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences was established. Karol Rosenbaum served as the director of this new institution from 1973 to 1985; Vladimír Brožík from 1985 to 1989. In 1991, in new political and social circumstances, a separate Institute of Slovak Literature of the Slovak Academy of Sciences was founded again. Rudolf Chmel was its director since 1989 to 1991, Peter Zajac since 1991 to 1998, and Jelena Paštéková since 1999 to 2006, Dana Hučková since 2007 to 2019. Ivana Taranenková is director of the Institute since 2019.