History of the Section
Organized research on the Renaissance started in 1969 when the Renaissance Research Group was created. The Group operates as a Section since 1970. With Rabán Gerézdi’s leadership, the Section of Old Hungarian Literature was formed as early as in 1956, which set its goal to examine the period lasting from the Middle Ages to the middle of the 18th century. The primary work of this Section was to write the first two volumes of the manual of literary history, which were published in 1964, and to launch the 17th-century series of Collection of Old Hungarian Poets (Régi Magyar Költők Tára, RMKT) and the facsimile series titled Bibliotheca Hungarica Antiqua. The group compiled several individual monographs, too. In 1962, the Section of Old Hungarian Literature fell victim to those science political ideas that pushed the research of the past into the background. The gap left behind was later filled with the organization of the Renaissance Research Section.
Tibor Klaniczay became the head of the new Section from 1973 to 1981 together with Béla Varjas. Following Tibor Klaniczay’s death, József Jankovics took over the position. The primary task of the Section is the research of Hungarian Renaissance literature, which it does with a comparative method paying attention to European Renaissance, too. It also aims at expanding the work into interdisciplinary directions with a special regard to religion, idea, menthality and cultural history. The Section loosely interpretes the idea of Renaissance covering not only Humanism but Reformation, too, and expanding the scope of its research to the Late Middle Ages and the Early Baroque period as well. The Section has 8–10 permanent colleagues but many other professionals, who work in other institutions, take part in the research, too, together with a few fellow researchers. With the participation of this wider circle, there are readings once a month and a multi-day conference each year. Among the speakers and participants, we can often welcome guests from abroad including the experts of international research on the Renaissance.
There are various monographs and text editions in preparation within the frameworks of the Renaissance Programme. The series practically cover the activity of the complete Section and they also give work to external colleagues: we have authors from the whole profession. Apart from the works mentioned so far, we have also published the series Studia Humanitatis, which consists of volumes of studies. In the series titled Humanism and Reformation (Humanizmus és Reformáció) we publish studies and monographs; its 35th volume came out in 2014. As for text editions, two big enterprises have been launched or rather continued. The new series of Bibliotheca Scriptorum Medii Recentisque Aevorum, which includes the texts of Neo Latin literature, is now at its 16th volume containing the huge text corpus of András Dudith’s letters. At the same time – after several decades of silence – we have started to continue the 16th-century series of the Collection of Old Hungarian Poets: four volumes have come out. The colleagues of the Section publish monographs and text editions, too, which are not part of these series.
The Renaissance Section has relationships with numerous foreign institutions, among which the Fondazione Giorgio Cini (Venice) and the Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel) are the most important ones. The Section has been a member of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés et Instituts pour l’Étude de la Renaissance since its foundation, and it regularly provides data to the Bibliographie internationale de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance, in preparation under the sign of the international organization, and to the database called Scholars of Early Modern Studies. The Section took part in the enterprise called Histoire comparée des littératures de langues européennes, which was managed by the AILC, and it was one of the leaders and organizers of the works of the four volumes dealing with Renaissance literature.