Peter Szondi (1929-1971) was the first professor of the institute. A Hungarian Jew by birth, he was at home in different languages, and he fought passionately for a Free University in Berlin.
Since 2005 the institute of comparative literature has officially carried his name. Since its foundation in 1965, the institute has been dedicated to a transnational perspective on literature, in terms of an internationally connected, up-to-date understanding of comparative literature. Today Peter Szondi Institute belongs to the leading research facilities in comparative literature and shapes the profile of the humanities at Freie Universität Berlin. Professors of the institute participate in collaborative research centers (SFBs), research clusters, and graduate schools of the nationwide Excellence Initiative. Yet as teaching and research have always been intertwined at Peter Szondi Institute, the same professors also regard themselves as committed teachers.