The IRIS program “Scripta-PSL. History and practices of writing”

Our time is witnessing profound changes in written culture, caused by the digital revolution and by the globalisation of writing. The practices of writing, its materiality, production, circulation and effects, are all mutating. All these dimensions thus deserve to be studied in historical perspective, from the earliest literate civilisations and over a wide geographical area, from the worlds of the Far East to those of the Mediterranean. The rapidly developing digital universe is also opening up new prospects for the scientific study of the written word, particularly in the past.

PSL member institutions offer a unique concentration of knowledge in a great variety of ancient or (very) rare languages ​​and writing systems, as well as in scientific approaches to writing. Within PSL, the programme “Scripta-PSL, The History and Practices of Writing” aims at integrating the fundamental sciences that deal with written artefacts (palaeography, codicology, epigraphy, history of the book, etc.), with other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (linguistics, history, anthropology, etc.), together with digital and computational humanities, around the study of writing. The program, a Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Initiative (IRIS) of PSL, is supported by EPHE and EFEO, in association with ENS, ENC, EHESS, Collège de France and IRHT (CNRS).

The research programme consists of six areas: “Writing and languages”; “Pages–Visual Fields for Reading”; “Exposed Writings–Inscriptions in Space”; “Documentary Practices, Old and New”; “The Transmission of the Written Word–Building Canons”; “Challenges in Digital Scholarly Editing”. The digital and computational team will focus on tools for computer vision and (semi-)automatic classification, especially adapted to writing from pre-typographic and/or non-Latin cultures.