Croatica was first published in 1970. It was conceived, spurred by the growing interest in national philology of the times, as a fundamental Croatian Studies journal “for the history of Croatian literature”, as its subtitle proclaimed. Instigated by its first editor-in-chief Ivo Frangeš, professor of newer Croatian literature, it was founded by the Institute of Literary Studies of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, and the Institute for Croatian Literature and Theater of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts). It was published by Liber, and the cover design, with its illuminated initial C from the edition of Croatia rediviva by Pavao Ritter Vitezović (Zagreb, 1700) was designed by renowned painter Alfred Pal. The motif reappears in every later journal design. Originally, therefore, Croatica was a literary journal, especially recognizable for its promotion of a comparative approach, grounded in the activities of the eminent Zagreb School of Stylistics that was headed, together with Frangeš, by distinguished professors from the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – professor of German literature Zdenko Škreb, and professor of Russian literature Aleksandar Flaker.
The publication of the first issue of Croatica coincided with the general strengthening of Croatian Studies in those years, peaking in the emergence of the political and cultural movement the Croatian Spring of 1971. Croatica was published continuously, albeit with short interruptions, until 2000. In 1976, the issue 7-8 contained the conference papers from a conference that resonated broadly in academic circles: Croatian Literature in European Context. Frangeš was succeeded as editor-in-chief by professor of older Croatian Literature Josip Bratulić in 1980, and from 1990-2000 that position was taken by Ante Stamać, then Chair of the Section for Literary Theory at the Department of Croatian Language and Literature. As can bee seen in the published bibliography of Croatica (XXX/2000/49-50), guest editors of special issues during this time were professors Aleksandar Flaker and Krunoslav Pranjić (7-8, 1976), Josip Bratulić and Dunja Fališevac (18, 1987), and Stjepan Damjanović (26, 1996). As editor-in-chief, Stamać broadened the thematic range of articles, increasingly publishing articles dealing in a more traditional philology and linguistics.
In 2007, due to administrative reasons the journal changed its name into Nova Croatica and formally functioned as a separate periodical, changing also its graphic design. Now, next to the Croatian Philological Society appears another founder: the Department of Croatian Language and Literature of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. Editors of this new Croatian Studies publication were professors of literature Vinko Brešić (editor-in-chief) and Cvjetko Milanja (vice editor-in-chief, until 2010). During their editorial mandate the journal opened itself to younger generations of academics, and the editorial concept became open to cultural studies.
In 2013 the journal’s title reverts back to Croatica, and since 2015 its editor-in-chief is Mateo Žagar, professor in the Section for Old Slavic language and Croatian Glagolitism. In 2017 the new cover was designed by Nikolina Jelavić Mitrović. The journal began its regular publication with several themed issues dedicated to the professors of the Zagreb Croatian Studies, issues publishing conference papers (“Forgotten Beginnings,” “500 Years of the Libro od mnozijeh razloga”), and issues that combined a range of philological topics. Croatica’s regular section Reviews follows relevant new Croatian Studies books, conferences and symposia, especially those organized by the Zagreb Department of Croatian Language and Literature.