The Institute of Literary Studies brings together professors who occupy a literary Chair at the Collège de France to organize joint research for these Chairs and their diverse fields. The Institute is currently led by Michel Zink, and includes the following professors:
- Roger Chartier – Writings and Cultures in Modern Europe
- Antoine Compagnon - Modern and Contemporary French literature: History, Criticism, Theory
- Carlo Ossola - Modern Literatures of Neo-Latin Europe
- Michel Zink, Permanent Secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres - Literatures of Medieval France
International professors invited by the Collège de France to hold annual Chairs in literature also participate in the Institute’s activities. Brian Stock (1997-1998), Thomas Pavel (2004-2005), Harald Weinrich (1989-1990) and Michael Edwards (2000-2001) were international guest lecturers before becoming full professors.
Odile Bombard, lecturer under the Chair of Professor Zink, first worked with Professor Bonnefoy and now coordinates the Institute’s activities. Senior lecturers work under the Institute’s Chairs. Catherine Fabre (Professor Zink), Christine Jacquet Pfau (Professor Ossola), and Francesco Solinas (Professor Recht), participate regularly in the Institute's activities as do associate lecturers (Yuji Murakami, Professor Companion, 2012-2013) and temporary teaching and research associates (Matthew Vernet, Professor Companion, 2010-2012).
Since the 1990s, the Institute for Literary Studies regularly organizes study days and symposia under the responsibility of one of its members, bringing together some of the professors and their colleagues as well as other French and international researchers. These encounters are held at the Collège de France, where they are opened to the public, or at the Collège de France Hugot Foundation as closed conferences.
Such symposia provide a venue for related fields to come together and share their thinking – fields such as literary criticism, the history of ideas, art history, and poetic creation – but there are differences in the period and approaches and methods used. The symposia are a testimony to the rewarding results of joint research among the Chairs whose titles, specialties and inspirations are all very different, but nevertheless united at the Collège de France.
From 1987 to 2004, Yves Bonnefoy organized a series of what became eleven annual conferences at the Hugot Foundation. The first was devoted to the work of Pierre Jean Jouve and the following conferences focused on “Self-consciousness in poetry”.
In 1998, Marc Fumaroli, Yves Bonnefoy, Harald Weinrich, and Michel Zink organized a large conference on “The literary identity of Europe: unity and multiplicity," at the Collège de France for the inauguration of the new classrooms.
A number of conferences organized by the Institute for Literary Studies have resulted in publications.