The Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT) is an independent institute within the CNRS (UPR 841). It is devoted to fundamental research on medieval manuscripts and early printed books. The textual histories of works written in the major languages of the Mediterranean Basin (Latin, romance languages, Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic) are treated from all aspects: the material support, writing, textual content, decoration, iconography, diffusion, and reception.
Internationally recognized for its scholarly competence in many areas, IRHT brings together specialists in fields that treat the history of texts, writing, books, libraries, art and illumination. The objective of their philological, lexicographical, historical, palaeographical, and codicological enquiries is to date and place the manuscripts, identify and establish their texts, prepare critical editions of their texts, and reconstruct the history of their production, circulation, readership and use from Antiquity up to the Renaissance. These studies produce an array of intellectual tools that are made readily available to researchers.
Since its foundation in 1937, IRHT has also been conceived as a centre for documentation, endowed with a film and photographic library that now contains reproductions of manuscripts from around the world. Its highly specialized library of editions, technical texts and periodicals is no less remarkable. Over the years it has also produced many card-files and descriptions concerning medieval manuscripts and their textual transmission. The history of IRHT written by Louis Holtz, director from 1986 to 1997, was published in the Revue pour l’histoire du CNRS, n° 2, 2000.
IRHT has a resident staff of more than one hundred researchers and technicians in 2013, of whom the two thirds are permanent employees of the CNRS, working in tandem with contractual personnel and associate members. IRHT is organised in service units (administration, library and centre for digitized resources) and in research sections; they are housed on five sites (headquarters: Centre Félix-Grat, 40 avenue d’Iéna, Paris 16e; Centre Augustin-Thierry, Orléans/La Source; Collège de France; Institut de France; Paris-Sorbonne).
Director of IRHT: Nicole Bériou (since 1 January 2011).
Administrative management of IRHT: the delegations of Paris A and the Centre-Poitou-Charentes.
Scientific disciplines: within the comité national de la recherché scientifique, the disciplines represented at IRHT fall under the tutelage of two sections :
- Section 32: Ancient and medieval worlds (archaeology and history, languages and texts, religions and arts, civilisations of the Mediterranean Basin: Egypt and the Orient, Classical Antiquity, Islam, Gallo-Roman and medieval worlds)
- Section 35: philosophy and philology, science of the arts (philosophical thought; textual sciences; artistic, scientific and technical creation; ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophy; epistemology; history of science and technique; artistic and aesthetic theory; literature in French and foreign languages)