Renaissance Section


The history of the Renaissance Section


Renaissance research

The Section of Old Hungarian Literature was established as early as 1956, headed by Rabán Gerézdi. The main task of the section was to create the first two volumes of the literary history manual, published in 1964, as well as launching the seventeenth-century series of Régi Magyar Költők Tára (Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry) (RMKT) and the facsimile series Bibliotheca Hungarica Antiqua. In 1962 the Section of Old Hungarian Literature fell victim to considerations of scientific policy that relegated the research of the past into the background. The gap thus created was later filled by the Renaissance Section.

Tibor Klaniczay became head of the new section, sharing the position with Béla Varjas between 1973 and 1981. After Tibor Klaniczay’s death in 1992, József Jankovics became head of the section; since his retirement in 2015, Gábor Kecskeméti has been the head. The main focus of the section is research on Hungarian Renaissance literature, although this is done using the comparative method, with an outlook on European Renaissance. It aims to broaden the work in an interdisciplinary way, especially in terms of the history of religion, intellect, attitudes, and culture. The concept of the Renaissance is interpreted broadly, including not only Humanism but also Reformation, and research includes the late Middle Ages and early Baroque as well.

The Renaissance Section has ties to several institutions abroad, the most important of which is the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. It has been a member of Fédération Internationale des Sociétés et Instituts pour l’Étude de la Renaissance since its inception, and it regularly contributes data to the Bibliographie internationale de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance created under the auspices of the international organization, as well as the Scholars of Early Modern Studies database. It has participated in the enterprise Histoire comparée des littératures de langues européennes, overseen by AILC, and it has become one of the managers and organizers of the work on the four volumes on Renaissance literature. 

The conferences of the Renaissance Section (1970–2018; compiled by Teréz Sántha)

List of all reading sessions between 1969 and 2018 (compiled by Teréz Sántha)

Participation in higher education

The activities of the Renaissance Section have a close connection to higher education: doctoral students are the target audience of the masterclasses organized by the section. Participants can submit applications for the one-week sessions through a grant. The main aim of the masterclasses is to involve young researchers in the scientific discourse known and practiced by the members of the section, and to establish a dialogue between researchers and university students, the future generation of researchers, in a tutorial setting.

Previous masterclasses

  • Hosszú reformáció és a litterae irodalomtörténet-írása. A magyar reformáció irodalomtörténete az ötszázadik évforduló (1517‒2017) kontextusában (Long reformation and the literary history writing of litterae. The literary history of Hungarian reformation in the context of its 500th anniversary (1517‒2017)), 22‒26 May, 2017: The lecturers introduced the complex connections between reformation and litterae by discussing the topic from the point of view of literary and intellectual history, as well as methodology and textology.
  • 1618‒2018. A harmincéves háború hatása irodalmunkra (1618‒2018. The influence of the Thirty Years’ War on our literature),18‒22 June, 2018. The aim of this masterclass was to examine the validity of the literary history typology based on research on the history of genre and style, in light of the historical events that took place four centuries ago.
  • Hosszú reformáció: (nagy)elbeszélések, források, módszerek (Long reformation: (long) stories, sources, methods), 1‒4 April, 2019. During this course, organized in conjunction with Babeş-Bolyai University, the presenters interpreted texts of early modern culture and their historical context in connection with the concept of the long reformation.

International relations

The international relations of the Renaissance Section are managed through Nemzetközi Magyarságtudományi Társaság (International Association for Hungarian Studies), while also cooperating with different organizations abroad. The section has been a member of Fédération Internationale des Sociétés et Instituts pour l’Étude de la Renaissance since its inception, and it regularly contributes data to the Bibliographie internationale de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance, as well as the Scholars of Early Modern Studies database. It has participated in the enterprise Histoire comparée des littératures de langues européennes, overseen by AILC, and it has become one of the managers and organizers of the work on the four volumes on Renaissance literature. Further important cooperating partners: Fondazione Giorgio Cini,La Sapienza University and Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Villa I Tatti, operated by Harvard University in Florence, and Herzog August Bibliothek.

The Renaissance Section and Hungarian Studies

Research abroad on the history of Hungarian literature and culture is organized and synthesized by the International Association for Hungarian Studies.

Its periodicals (Hungarian Studies, Lymbus), published in foreign languages and in Hungarian, often publish the results of research on the Renaissance and the Baroque. The association, together with the Institute for Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, established the Klaniczay award in 2002, the most prestigious recognition of research on the history of old Hungarian literature and culture since then. Members of the section who have received the award: Géza Szentmártoni Szabó (external contributor, 2010), Sándor Bene (2011), Péter Kőszeghy (2012), József Jankovics (2018)


Research projects


Scientific activities: main research directions and results

The section’s main task is researching Hungarian Renaissance literature. The wider connections are taken into consideration both in terms of space, time, topics, and methodology. The research projects survey European Renaissance, parallels, influences, and interactions. Using a broad interpretation of the concept of the era, they take into consideration not only the relevant phenomena of Humanism and Reformation but also those of the Middle Ages and the Baroque; what is more, they consider even those characteristics of the Enlightenment the origin of which can be traced back to the antique. In the name of interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity, aspects of the history of society, politics, mentality, religion, art, and culture are often considered. A wide range of epistemological considerations predominate, partly adapted to the shared goals and partly based on individual researchers’ beliefs, from a positivist approach to the latest in methodology. Due to the ethnic composition of historical Hungary, texts in German, Slovak, Biblical Czech, South Slavic, and Romanian languages also need to be considered. Due to the widespread use of Latin at the time, Neo-Latin studies are especially important.

The centres of scholarly activities can partly be found in some of the subdivisions important in their own right in the periods under examination, and partly in the research projects which fit into the synthesis encompassing the entirety of the antique, into the current Hungarian literary history. Beside issues related to individual persons, attention is often paid to different subperiods and directions (late Renaissance, Mannerism, Protestant Baroque, early Enlightenment, etc.), genres (love and epic poetry, psalms, sermons, confessional prose, prison literature, etc.), and other important areas of specialization and concepts of literary history (court and folk culture, political thinking, devotion, history of literary criticism, rhetoric, poetics, etc.), as well as presenting the theoretical and methodological issues of ages past.

The latest research results are already appraised during the workshop phase. Readings are organized during the last week of each month to discuss drafts prior to publication. The multi-day conferences organized in different towns at least once a year, typically at the end of May, also provide opportunities for shared reflection.

Particularly important among the centres of scientific activity in the section is participation in the writing of summaries of literary history. The perspective and methodology of historical communication theory plays an influential role in writing the latest synthesis of the literary history of the antique. The first volume of the planned new synthesis surveys the history of our literature until 1800.

The conference series Az értelmezés hatalma (The power of interpretation) is linked to the development of the methodological background of the manual. It is held at the institute, and its presenters come from the widest professional circles. Previous Events:

– A régi magyar irodalomtörténet-írás mint történetírói metodológia (Old Hungarian literary history writing as a methodology in historiography), 18 March, 2015.

Szerző és szerzőség a modernitás előtt (Author and authorship before modernity), 6 April, 2016.

– A kora újkori kéziratos nyilvánosság működésének módszertani kihívásai és tanulságai (The methodological challenges and lessons of early modern manuscript publicity), 29 March, 2017.

Kontextus és kontextualizáció (Context and contextualization), 28 March, 2018.

– Korszakaink a régi magyar irodalomban (Periods in old Hungarian literature), 20 March, 2019.


Special Projects

Further results are expected from the following individual and collective projects.

Galeotto Marzio text edition, János Bolyai Research Scholarship – Enikő Békés

– duration: 2017–2019.

The aim of the project is the publication of the annotated critical edition of Galeotto Marzio’s De doctrina promiscua.

MTA-SZTE Antikvitás és reneszánsz: források és recepció (MTA-SZTE Antiquity and Renaissance: sources and reception), Research group supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences


 Supervisors: Éva Vígh; István Lázár, János Nagyillés, Gergő Gellérfi, Annamária Molnár, Attila Hajdú, Péter Ertl, Gábor Petneházi, Márton Róth (SZTE), Ágnes Máté, Réka Lengyel, László Szörényi (MTA BTK ITI).

– duration: 2017–2022.

The research area of the exceptionally rich network of the antiquity and the Renaissance has researchers with results of international significance in the subfields of classical-philology, Neo-Latin literature, and the literature of Romance languages; however, currently there is no centre in Hungary where these analyses are conducted in close cooperation, according to an organized and clearly articulated concept. Our research group coordinates the analysis of the above-mentioned fields and research directions by connecting with international research projects and coordinating with experienced researchers, as well as involving young researchers whose extremely promising work is related to the connection between these two eras of literary and cultural history. The research projects completed within the research group contribute both to the analysis of the European history of reception and to exploring the Hungarian reception spanning several centuries.

Vita in Hungaria: Hungarus-tudat a 17. századi multietnikus Felső-Magyarországon (Vita in Hungaria: Hungarus Consciousness in Multi-ethnic Upper Hungary in the Seventeenth Century), postdoctoral grant – Ingrid Papp

– duration: 2017–2020.

The proposed research aims to introduce the development and variations of the Hungarus consciousness of those living in the region through mapping and analysing the Biblical Czech-language portion of the text corpus published by intellectuals in seventeenth-century multi-ethnic Upper-Hungary. During this period in the area north of the Danube in Upper and Lower Hungary different peoples were living next to each other (Hungarians, Germans, Slavic people) in statistical proportions that varied according to region, and they often mixed with each other in the same settlement. An exceptionally exciting zone of contact was created in which the Hungarus and non-autochthonous cultural elements can be seen in the transitional state of fusion, reflecting on each other, and inclusion. The Hungarus identity of the Hungarus intelligentsia of the region can be observed in an interpretative section in which the elements of identity characterized by many centuries of poor sources and difficult dating mix with recently accepted ideological patterns, which are partly familiar but are partly still perceived as different. Thus, they become objects of especially close attention, interest, and elaboration. The fact that conditions were to some extent upset in Hungary creates points of reference compared to which the self-reflection of the population of a Hungarus origin and the developing Hungarus self-reflection of the newly accepted refugees can be observed and described much more clearly.

Oláh Miklós levelezésének kritikai kiadása II. (Critical Edition of the Correspondence of Nicolaus Olahus II.), MTA Premium Postdoctoral Research Program– Emőke Rita Szilágyi

– duration: 2019–2022.

The aim of the project is to collect and edit the previously unpublished correspondence of Nicolaus Olahus (1493–1568), primarily from the period 1539–1568. The existing edition of the previous correspondence (Leveleskönyv (Epistolae familiares), 1527–1539) needs revision: on the one hand because Arnold Ipolyi’s 1875 edition does not meet the basic requirements of today’s critical editions; on the other hand, over time several flaws and errors have been discovered in it. The corrections and rewriting completed by Nicolaus Olahus have to be noted in a quality critical edition, as well as the text variants of the different extant copies. One year after the publication of the printed version, the online version will also be available.

Mohács 1526–2026: Rekonstrukció és emlékezet (Mohács 1526–2026: Reconstruction and memory), supported by of the Centers of Excellence of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Supervisors: Pál Fodor (MTA BTK TTI), Norbert Pap (PTE TTK); members of the Renaissance Section: Enikő Békés, Sándor Bene, József Jankovics, Emőke Rita Szilágyi, László Szörényi, Márton Zászkaliczky.

– duration: 2018–2021.

The research projects of the members of the section are related to the politics of memory aspect of the project: they involve collecting the memories of the battle of Mohács, with special emphasis on sources of literature, history, and art history.

Hosszú reformáció Kelet-Európában: konfesszionalizációk és irodalmi kultúrák a kora újkorban (1500-1800) Kutatócsoport (Long Reformation in Eastern Europe: Confessionalizations and literary cultures in early modernity (1500-1800) Research Group), MTA BTK Lendület (Momentum) project

Supervisors: Zsombor Tóth; Tünde Móré (MTA BTK ITI), as well as researchers employed at other Hungarian and foreign educational and research institutes (in Romania and Slovakia).

– duration: 2018‒2023.

The most important innovation of the project is the use of the concept of multiple Reformations, and its historical narration within a timeframe that is different from tradition, i.e. between 1520 and 1791. The research focuses on the dual examination of confessionalization processes; on the one hand, re-evaluating the historical development of denominational and ecclesiastic structures and the development of multidenominational societies in early modern Hungary and Transylvania; on the other hand, focusing on the processes of confessional teaching relevant to literary history, the unique text production characteristic of multidenominational societies and literacy in a comparative and intellectual history context.

Nemzet, haza, vallás és szabadság - régi és új beszédmódok a Bocskai-felkelés szöveghagyományában és a 17. század magyar politikai gondolkodásában (Nation, homeland, religion, and freedom - old and new forms of speech in the textual tradition of the Bocskai uprising and seventeenth-century Hungarian political thinking), K 113251, NKFI-6

Supervisors: Tamás Kruppa (SZTE); Pál Ács, Sándor Bene (MTA BTK ITI), Gábor Kármán, András Péter Szabó (MTA BTK TTI), Roger Teszelszky (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Nationale Bibliotheek van Nederland, Den Haag), secretary: Márton Zászkaliczky (MTA BTK ITI)

– duration: 2015–2019.

The aim of the project is to explore the roots of the emergence of modern political thinking in Hungary through text edition and systematic processing. The texts to be explored include the political and propaganda texts of the Bocskai uprising, the correspondence and court activities of its main participants, the Catholic reaction to the uprising and its contemporary Catholic interpretation, the internationally relevant political pamphlet war of the Bethlen era, the most important political-ideological and literary-religious expressions of the early years of the Thirty Years’ War, the foreign-language printed and manuscript declarations targeting an international audience in the 1640s and 1650s, as well as in the 1660s and 1670s, and the lesser-known Palatine speeches and drafts of the era.


Series of publications

a.) Source editions

Bibliotheca Hungarica Antiqua

The series publishes facsimiles of sixteenth and seventeenth-century prints that have a Hungarian relevance, are significant in terms of literary history or bibliography, and often only exist in a single copy. They are accompanied by studies presenting the publication and its author with scientific rigor, occasionally with German and English summaries. Until 2018, 46 volumes were published.

Bibliotheca Scriptorum Medii Recentisque Aevorum (BSMRAe)

The primary aim of the series is to make accessible for scientific research those medieval and early modern literary records in Latin that have a relevance for Hungary or the Hungarian language.

The publications encompass the period from the beginning of Hungarian literacy till the mid-eighteenth century, but on a case-by-case basis other, later texts (created before 1844, the end of Latin as an official language) can also be added which were still an integral part of Latin culture in Hungary. Works can be considered that were written in the territory of one-time historical Hungary (the Kingdom of Hungary and its attached territories, later the Turkish rule and Transylvania), or works by authors originally from these territories that were written abroad. The introductions and notes in the volumes of the critical edition are prepared in Latin or a modern foreign language. Since the theory and practice of textology and philology is changing over time, the editorial principles are also constantly adjusted to the current scientific, technical, and science policy expectations. Until 2018, 16 volumes were published in the new series.

Régi Magyar Költők Tára (Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry) (RMKT)